, 02.15.2018 09:42 AM

Happy birthday


Many guys will understand what I mean when I say this: your father is both a bit of light, and a bit of shadow, over your path through life.

Mine, T. Douglas Kinsella, MD, OC, would have been 86 years old today. So many years after we lost him, he remains a constant in our lives. He still illuminates some of the path. Without even being here, he still quietly persuades me to examine the choices I have made.

Me? I have made bad choices. I have been reckless and cruel with the hearts of too many. I have not lived by the single rule he left us.

“Love people, and be honest,” he said to us, and I often feel I have done neither.

He saved many lives as a physician, and he won accolades, and he was a member of the Order of Canada. But for us – my brothers, my nephew he raised, my closest friends – he was the man we aspired to be. Not for the distinctions he received, but for how he was, in his soul.

He was unfailingly honest; he was kind to everyone he met. He married his high school sweetheart, and was with her every single day for 50 years, and my God how they loved each other. We would sit there at the kitchen table in Calgary or Kingston or Montreal, and we would listen to him. He’d listen to us, too, and persuade us to try and figure things out. There were some great times, around that table.

The best thing is having a father like that. The harder thing is knowing that you will never be like him.

I had a dream that he died in 9/11; I don’t know why, but I did. I woke up weeping, and remembered that I wasn’t a boy anymore, and that he has been gone for more than a decade. I don’t think he would like what his son has become. I know I don’t.

So I put on my pants and shoes, and went out into the day, looking for what’s left of the path.

Happy birthday. I miss you.

3 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    When my Dad died three years ago someone said to me that no matter how old you get or how long he’s been gone, you’ll still want to make him proud of you. I really didn’t think much about it back then.

    But three years later, I now know that person was right.

  2. Robert White says:

    We are a product of the 60s, Warren. Our fathers are products of the 20s & 30s where the 1st & 2nd World Wars influenced their world views, and their humanitarianism. Collectively, their generation endured world war, and fallout from the Great Depression. Our generation manifested out of the boom phase after the 2nd World War. Collectively, we turned our backs on war by throwing Tricky Dick out of office. We saw Kennedy & King assassinated by fascists from the right-wing, and that ushered in the collective skepticism that carried all of us through life to this day.

    In contemporary society we are evidencing another right-wing fascist movement that will likely foment another world war, but this time that war will be thermonuclear hot World War Three. Personally, I, for one, think we have the collective right to be skeptical & nihilistic where our parents refused to see the ugly side of Western Imperialism through the collective lens of humanitarianism, or the liberal ethos/pathos of state.

    RW

  3. Eastern Rebellion says:

    I’m glad that you enjoyed your time with your father, who certainly seemed like a great guy. I lost my father over 30 years ago, before any of my children were born. That he never had a chance to meet his grandchildren is the greatest sadness for me. It sounds like you still had many great years with him, so remember the good times, and the positive life lessons he imparted.

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