There is a mysticism that we humans give to numbers. We’ll put on a gala for the 10th, 20th or 25th anniversary of an event. We don’t seem to give the same meaning if it is the 9th, 11th, or 26th anniversary. The reason I bring this up is that my dad, Ken Nicholls, turned 75 this year and we had an affair for him. It was a significant year for us and by the way, the affair was not the 20-something blonde he keeps asking us for (just joking). I wonder if some of this comes from the fact that only a few centuries ago people used have problems living past 50.
To know that your dad has lived for three quarters of a century starts you thinking and remembering. My dad grew up on a farm, later moving to Larder Lake. He started working at the young age of 14, which was normal for those times.
Through his life he would do many things. I remember one story of when, as a young man, he worked as a driller. Part of his job was to blow out the excess gas from part of the drilling platform at the end of the job before packing up. Someone had left the fire going and he got a throat full of gas and fire. He alternately walked and rode a horse-drawn sled to the hospital.
He still remembers that while his throat healed he hated people who brought him fruit. Whenever someone would eat one it would be torment for him as he couldn’t eat. The smells would drive him crazy. I like the idea of a fruit basket for someone in the hospital but because of that story I am always careful to see if the patient can eat also.
My dad, like most dads, taught me a lot about life, but one thing stands out. I noticed that when someone would come to him with a personal problem he would listen. When he would talk it would be to ask for more information or to help the person look at the problem from a new angle. He rarely gave advice but rather helped them to find their own solution to the problem. I found this to be fascinating.
Of course, when the problem was mechanical or in an area of his expertise, (you should see how many diplomas dad has, over 50 at least), dad could be a bear. He would tell you what to do about it, but rarely was patient with those who didn’t know what they were talking about. I always wondered how he would have done as a journalist.
I know that this deep sense of right and wrong comes from or is severely reinforced by him. He would never abandon a friend and has many to this day that he has had for most of his life.
A dad is someone who will show you how to hold your first screwdriver or hammer. He will take you fishing or hunting to spend some time with you. He will gladly share with you what knowledge he knows. He will take great pride in you when you do well, even if sometimes he cannot show it. He will always be on your side, and accept you no matter what you do right or wrong. He will be there for advice but in the end accept what you decide in life. He will always want something better for you and make sure to try to steer you clear of the hardships or obstacles he faced when he was your age. From the time you are born he will think about you often and hope the best for you always. At least that’s what I saw and lived.
Dad, it was great to celebrate your 75th, and this year we’ll start counting backwards for you and hold another gala on your 70th.