Friday, April 1, 2011

Reading with Dad

When I was a kid we lived on the small Alberta farm the DVA (later called Veterans Affairs Canada) settled on my father at the end of the war. He had volunteered for the navy and spent the war on convoy duty in the North Atlantic.

A quarter section of land was not a living, and my father was often away working. After the big oil strike in Leduc in 1947, he worked on the gas line. He also built grain elevators in towns around Alberta.

When I was six or so, he came out to Kitimat to find work while Alcan was building the smelter. The farm in winter, with its coal and wood stoves, the unfinished house and the prairie wind, was too much for my mother and three small kids. Dad rented us a house in town.

Dad worked in Kitimat for nearly two years before we left Ryley. Then my parents sold the farm and bought a little house in Terrace.

There, when he was not working, he would lie on his bed reading Bertrand Russell and the ancient philosophers -- the old Greeks -- Mom used to call them. Periodically he would call Mom or one of us in to read a particularly interesting passage.

He also liked to write out brief quotations from these works and pin them to his wall. I do the same, but with my computer. Instead of pinning the quotations to the wall, I add them to my file.

Thanks, Dad, for demonstrating for us the mystery and value of the written word.

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