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  • My first love was my Father. We were charcoally-grey-sheep together. We laughed at the same nonsense. I look just like him. (except he was BIG. I'm not so big.)

    He took me to Square One in Mississauga to the movies. We saw The Jungle Book. When we were leaving he began to bellow "The Bare Necessities." My five-year-old-self laughed until he had to carry me. I remember him taking long strides through the busy mall with me over his shoulder; singing at the top of his over-sized lungs. I clearly remember thinking he was absolutely dreamy…

    He used to dress me up in pretty dresses and patent leather shoes. I called them my 'clippy' shoes and loved the sound they made when I walked on the subway platform. He would take me into the city to see Musicals and Operas and all things Bernard Shaw.

    We would go to the ROM and look at the mummies. He didn't get mad when I demanded to stay for hours in the exhibition of the Queen's dresses. Walking around the glass cases over and over and over again.

    He took me secret-hunting at Depot Harbour, the ghost town by our summer place. We would look for fragments of the people who lived there before the factory exploded. I found a fork once. I wanted to take it home and he said "No, Babyskins. Leave it behind…" I cried in my little-girl-way and he sat me on his knee on an ancient ruin. He rubbed my back and told me about 'Now,' explaining that the fork was meaningless. What mattered was that they had all existed and someone had loved them. Not how they had eaten their breakfast.

    He taught me to pull illegal 'copper' turns on the highway.

    We would sit on the lawn in the middle of the night and contemplate life and the cosmos.

    One day, when we were driving he told me I didn't need to pay too much attention to the Minster. He explained that I could talk to God anytime.

    He woke me up in the middle of night to carry me down to the water and watch the fish worship the moon. I laid against his shoulder, thumb in mouth, and watched the fish dance. So thick I thought I could walk on them. It was magic.

    He made jokes about being sick. He laughed it off. When he almost died at Christmas and then made a miraculous recovery he ate three huge plates of food. Then demanded that I get a bottle port out. We got drunk quietly. He told me months later that his angels had offered him an early out. Being Big-Pat he refused… he told me he wanted another summer.

    He would sit and watch the hummingbirds on the porch. The summer of 2001 was intensely hot. He loved it as well as he could. I would dress up in silly clothes and do comedy routines for him when he couldn't get out of bed anymore. Mom would cook so he could smell it…

    He said "I love you. Be Independent."

    I said "Don't stick around for this. It's been a good summer."

    In the end I wasn't there. But I watched the sky turn dark and a torrential rain begin. I knew he was gone. I just knew.

    A few years later I was in a bathroom stall in a movie theatre in Toronto. 'The Bare Necessities' began to pour out of speakers. I sat in that bathroom and cried and cried and cried. I thought about being a charcoally-grey-sheep and my 'clippy' shoes and the Queen's dresses and copper turns and talking to God and the fish dancing and Cancer and Angels and big dinners and hummingbirds and being independent and not being there. And the way it rained that afternoon. And how I knew everything was different.

    And I thought about staring at that fork in Depot Harbour and turning it over in my hands. And him convincing me it wasn't all about having things. And slowly putting it down on the ruin. And him reminding me not to look back while I whipped my eyes and he lead me away...

    And how absolutely dreamy he was.
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