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Saying goodbye when words can’t possibly suffice

My Dad passed away on Monday, December 3. Earlier today, December 10, his funeral was held at St. Edward’s Catholic Parish in Duncan, BC. My brother Todd and I had the honour of eulogizing our incredible father. And while words can’t possibly sum up Dad’s impact and legacy, here’s what I chose to say when it was my turn at the mic.


I’ve thought a lot about what to say today — about how to honour Dad’s memory and legacy.

Like Todd, I could talk about his deep commitment to his church; the strength he drew from his love of God and from the tenets of his faith; the pride he took in his time as a lector, parish councillor or lay presider.

Or I could talk about his love of fellowship and camaraderie; the strength he drew from time spent with others; his loyalty to friends and colleagues and his ability to lift people up when they needed it most.

I could talk about the call he felt to serve his community; his 30 plus years of coaching minor hockey, or his work on community projects like the airport in Marathon or the radio station in Mackenzie. His active involvement in service clubs like Rotary and Probus, or his work in Slave Lake.

But instead I want to talk about photographs.

My dad loved to take photos. And, as his family members assembled here today can attest, he loved to take one kind of photo in particular. The ritual went something like this. We’d come upon a monument or a landscape; a view or an attraction; or — best of all for him — a pulp mill. He’d parade us out, usually with much groaning and complaining from us, and have us line up in front. We’d stare directly into the sun — this provided the best light for his photos, you see — and he’d slowly and carefully frame us in his viewfinder.

The act of taking the photo always seemed to take an agonizing amount of time. Focusing. Framing. Refocusing. Reframing. We’d complain and whine but he’d take his time and make sure everything was just as he liked.

As a kid, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why he needed to drag his family out of the van to stand in front of yet another pulp mill. I couldn’t understand why it took him so long to frame and focus and I couldn’t understand why he had to get our feet in there every single time.

I realize now why it mattered.

Because while Dad may have been passionate about pulp mills and monuments, while he may have cared deeply about highway border signs and views of rocks and trees, those things only mattered to him because they were things he could share with his true passion.

Us. His family.

And when he was standing there, making sure he could see our toes in the viewfinder, he was doing the one thing that mattered most of all.

He was making sure that everything fit.

Those photos tell you everything you need to know about Dad. His hobbies, his passion, his work… Dad always took the time to make sure there was room for all of it. But his family? We were always front and centre.

Published inFrom Medium
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