Dad driving the boat as I catch some waves in Barrie.

Being back in Ontario and hanging out with my family this past couple of weeks has been such an amazing gift. I’m pretty lucky that I like my family; in my line of work I often meet and connect with students and guests who feel they can open up about their lives, and I have the privilege to listen. A lot of people don’t actually like their parents; they may love them, but they don’t really like them. There’s a difference. I once wrote a tune called, “Out of Like” about being in a relationship with a fellow; we really loved each other but just realized that we didn’t really like each other when it came to the end of the relationship. Not a nice feeling. And so, looking at my family: parents, sister, aunts and uncles, and actually feeling like I want to hang out with them, I feel blessed. 

I remember hearing a Buddhist talk on compassion and loving-kindness; the example the teacher gave was to think about how a mother cow looks at her young calf. Soft eyes. Relaxed. Content. Pure love. Lately, that’s how I’ve been looking at my Dad these days…with those same eyes. The same eyes I use when I look at our dog Anouk, who has been the love of our lives now for about eleven years. She just turned 14 last week, which is about 98 in dog years. My dad is almost in his mid-seventies, and I’m realizing that they (the pooch and my dad) won’t be around forever. A lot of Dad’s pals with whom he chummed around have passed away over the past few years, and some are now dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, cancers and other shitty ailments. And so, I’m pretty grateful that he is still rockin’ and rollin’; literally that is. The other night I came into the house and he was sitting in the dark listening to the album “Hotel California” cranked up to the b-jeezus. 

He’s the dude who actually got me into rock and roll in the first place. Every Saturday he’d head down to Sam the Record Man here in Barrie and buy a new piece of wax. Every Saturday afternoon we’d sit in the family room by the record player and have a listen to the new goods: The Eagles, The Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp. My dad was so cool that he was one of the first people who showed up at Woodstock. He was at a friend’s cottage in upstate New York when they heard there was a “little concert” nearby. They got in Mike O’Brian’s VW Van, took some goodies for the road and rocked out for the next four days. Dad said that it was The Who, that really “blew our minds”, so it was pretty cool for me to get to relay this story to Pete Townsend when I sailed with him in Antigua. 

He’s also the guy who paid for all my piano lessons for ten years, then helped me go to music school when I was in my 30s. Not only was he a rock and roller (who used to hang out with Ronnie Hawkins), but he was a kick ass water skier. I was wake boarding the other day in Barrie and Dad was driving me around, like a pro, probably re-living the days when he used to waterski up at the cottage by putting a round disk made of plywood on the water first, then a chair on top of that, then spin around behind the boat. Yeah. The guy is pretty cool. I feel like this might be a belated Father’s Day blog, but on Father’s Day I was high in the Andes hiking up a storm, so didn’t have access to a computer. 

And so, I write this today as a way to honour him. To thank him for his support. To thank him for the piano lessons and the ski lessons. And to realize that I need to embrace every moment I can with my family members while I’m here. And while they’re here. I’ll take in the next week before I leave for Nelson, and look at my family with those cow compassionate eyes. Mooooooooo.

Question for You: how did your parents shape you to help you to become the person you are today?

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