As you all know we have just commemorated Remembrance Day. It is an opportunity to reflect on those men and women that fought for our freedom in past wars. I noticed on Facebook that my motivational message was the statement, ‘I remember who my people are; I do not take them for granted.’
In keeping with Remembrance Day and this important principle that I feel is important to live by, I would like to take a moment to remember someone who died a very long time ago (1971) who fought daily for me to assure that I had the best opportunity to be a healthy, compassionate, productive member of society. I’m talking about my dad.
My dad died when I was fifteen years old but I am convinced that in those fifteen years he provided me with the best possible model of a loving, concerned and engaged dad that I could possibly have had. His example laid the foundation for the person I am today. Here are some of the qualities that I best remember about him.
From the time my dad was twenty eight, he had a rare lung disease that over ten years robbed him of his ability to breath. Whenever he caught a cold, he would be bed ridden for a week because his weak lungs would not allow him to function. Knowing how debilitating it was for him to get sick, he would still take me to hockey practices at 4:30am and sit in the cold stands to watch me. I would hear my mom scold him from time to time about doing that but he would just respond, ‘I don’t know how many times I will have the opportunity to watch my son play, so, I’m going to watch.’
In the ten years that my dad was ailing, he worked really hard to establish his construction company and leave a number of properties that would generate income for the family when he was gone. He knew he was not going to be around for long, so, he would consistently sacrifice his well being to make sure that we were taken care of.
My dad really knew how to deal with me. He knew how to discipline me and encourage me at the same time. Of course, many of my memories of him are related to sports stories because he was so proud of the fact that he had a son who was gifted athletically and he would spend lots of time watching me.
One evening after one on my hockey games he came to my room to talk to me. I had been in a fight on the ice and he obviously wasn’t happy about it. He sat down on my bed beside me with a very stern look on his face and said, Terry, you know I am not going to agree with you fighting, even if it is hockey. I’ve raised you to be a fighter, not a brawler. You are supposed to be fighting for people not against them.’ I told my dad that I understood and would try not to allow my anger get the better of me on the ice. As he was leaving my room he turned and smiled at me and said, ‘nice fight.’ As I reflect on that moment, I can still see his smile and the strong sense of assurance that he really understood me. I have never been someone who has played strictly by anyone’ rules but I live according to the kind of life principles that my dad taught me.
It was important for me to have a dad who was fun. He laughed a lot and took lots of opportunity to show me that you should never take yourself too seriously. He had three major operations on his lungs in ten years and had massive scars from his sternum to the middle of his back. And yet, he would often take off his shirt off in the summer at home or at the beach in public. We would be a little horrified wondering what people thought of his scars but he would just smile and say, what scars?
I remember clearly one day we had a car full of my friends heading for a hockey game and one of my friends saying, ‘hey Mr. Lige, this is a nice car.’ My dad responded with, ‘you think so. Let’s see what she can do.’ He proceeded to spin the tires at the stop sign and roared down the road, much to the delight of my friends.
I could go on and on about my dad, but for me this is a snap shot into my memories of him and some of the things I most admired about him. One of my greatest disappointments is that my dad never had the opportunity to see me do what I do as an adult. I would have really enjoyed seeing him in one of my programs, face beaming with pride watching me fight for someone’s life and saying to me, nice fight son.