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Another Hurdle

September 23, 2008 @ 07:02

I watched most of the Leafs pre-season game last night with a heavy heart.

It didn't hit me until the game actually started, but I quickly realized this Leaf season would be different because it will be the first since my dad died.

By this time in September I would have set Dickie up with a Leaf schedule that clearly displayed what channel their games would be on.

Dickie was from a different era. The era that had Saturday Leaf games on the CBC and midweek games on CTV. It was all so simple then.

But then all of a sudden, as my dad became older, the digital television world became newer. Following the Leafs on TV wasn't so easy any more.

Some games were on CBC, some games on TSN and a whole whack on Sportsnet and then a growing number on Leafs TV.

The television universe that just a few short years ago was manageable for Dickie, had become a wacky system that featured channels that zoomed into the 500's.

Some nights the Leafs were on channel 417, but then the next game would be on 466 or 400 or way back at 302 or 348. Don't game me wrong, my dad was a smart guy, but as he settled into his 80's, he had trouble getting his head around constantly updated digital boxes and complex converters.

That's why I always made sure by this time he had a Leaf schedule that had a big number beside every game. It made it easier for him. I actually enjoyed doing it. I looked forward to it.

But last night, because I've been so busy lately, I really didn't think about it until the puck dropped against the Buffalo Sabres.

I miss ya Dickie..

Category: Family

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The Flying Weed Whacker

August 19, 2008 @ 11:00

I got caught in one of those moments yesterday. Not like George Costanza in the bathroom with the Cosmopolitan, but it was almost as embarrassing.

Let me preface this by saying I'm married to the world's most well adjusted, calm, cool and collected woman alive. She's got endless patience and wouldn't say shit if her mouth was full of it.

I'm somewhat the opposite and tend to let little things get the better of me sometimes.

Like yesterday when I was attempting to use my weed whacker again. It's useless. Delyse bought it for me a couple of years ago, and she bought it because I asked for it.

My Weed Eater had screwed up for the one hundredth time and against my better judgment I asked for another gas powered small engine jobby even though I knew these things are more trouble than they're worth.

I should have asked for the cordless re-chargable but I thought by the time I asked for a new gas machine they would have ironed out all the wrinkles and the tendency for these things to stall all the time or refuse to start for no goddamn reason.

I was wrong.

Delyse bought something called a Homelite and although it worked properly for maybe the first two or three times, since then its been a bitch bastard pain the ass.

It always starts OK when its cold, and it actually whacks a few weeds before something comes over it and it refuses to continue.

It stalls, and then you have to choke it before it even pretends it wants to start. And then if it does start, as soon as you take the choke off it stalls. And if for some reason it doesn't stall at that point, as soon as you give it some gas it definitely stalls.

Imagine being in the middle of yard work and having to deal with this. It got so bad at one point yesterday that I was continuously yanking the cord, and if it ran for a brief few seconds I would run over to some grass and try to cut it before it stalled again.

It was brutal, frustrating and extremely aggravating. So I did it. I threw it across the yard.

But I have to admit, just before I threw it, it crossed my mind that somebody might be watching me. But it was early in the morning and there was nobody else outside so I went with the law of averages and flung the son of a bitch halfway across the yard where it landed with a bang against the bottom of the fence.

And then almost instantly I heard a tapping. Like someone was tapping on a window. So I looked up, and there in the bedroom window was Delyse giving me a sarcastic thumbs-up.

In my world, this was trouble. Delyse is the most patient and tolerant person in the world, but when it comes to my impatience, she has no patience or tolerance.

I sheepishly nodded as she left the window with a look of disgust on her face.

I finished doing a few things around the yard and then prepared myself to go into the house and face the music. But I decided to be pro-active. Rather than wait for her to bring it up, I decided to bound into the house and explain myself.

"Dol" I said. (That's what I call her) "What I did was stupid, silly and immature. There's no excuse for it and it would have been awful if someone else had seen it. Like one of neighbour John's kids or Danny's girlfriend (who I'm just getting to know). But I had to do it hon, that piece of crap has been haunting me for two years now. It was the wrong thing to do and solved nothing..... but I'll tell ya something, it felt great!"

What happened at that point surprised me. She laughed. My little darlin' laughed.

Turns out she has witnessed what I've been going through with that hunk of junk over the past couple of years and she understood. She understood the extent of my frustration and how it could push me to the point of an outburst.

Too many times she saw me pulling on that cord to the point of exhaustion only to have it sputter and spit in my face. She understood.

Today I'm going to crush it with the back wheels of my Pathfinder.

Category: Family | Stuff

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Happy Birthday Dickie

August 15, 2008 @ 10:03

Today is one of those days along the way.

My dad would have been 83 years old today and it brings back a lot of memories, and nothing but good ones.

As I've stated many times on this blog, Dickie was a great guy and a fabulous father and we all miss him dearly.

It's amazing how the years go by. It just seems like yesterday that we gathered for Dickie's 50th birthday in the backyard of our house on Chopin Ave. in Scarborough.

We bought him a football T-shirt with the number 50 on it, and the words BIG DICK across the shoulders.

At the time I couldn't believe my dad was actually 50 years old - two years younger than I am now.

And its funny how times change. I remember when I was just a little kid, on my dads birthday due to lack of funds I would often scrape together 48 cents and buy him a pack of cigarettes. Buckingham, large, non-filter.

I don't think there are too many kids buying their father cigarettes for their birthday in 2008.

Once I got a part time job I elevated my gift giving by buying him a case of beer, but not his usual Molson Golden, I'd go the extra couple of bucks and get him a case of Brador with the gold foil around the neck.

In the most recent years, there's was nothing Dickie liked better than a gift card. It gave him a good excuse to go and spend a few hours in the aisles of Canadian Tire or Home Depot.

I wondered how I'd feel today and to be honest, I don' feel sad. I really don't.

I miss my dad but I hold onto the fact that we had him for a long time and when his body had finally had enough, he didn't suffer long.

A great guy, a great life and great memories. How can you feel sad about that?

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Their Kind Of Town Chicago Is

August 6, 2008 @ 10:21

As a parent, you want your kids to experience all they can. Why wouldn't you?

Life experience develops character and we all want our kids to be solid citizens don't we?

OK, not all of us. I'm forgetting about the skunks in our society who blast their seed all over the place and then take off with no accountability, but if you read this blog often, you know how I feel about that, so I'll move on.

This past weekend both my kids went to Chicago for Lollapalooza and it made me feel good.

I remember when I was in my early 20's and how enjoyable road trips could be, especially to far away places, and considering that Chicago is a nine hour drive, it qualifies as a far-away place.

Not only that, I think them to experience not only the things that I have, but also things I haven't, and other than a brief weekend jaunt to Chicago back in 1991 for a Blue Jays series, I really haven't experienced Chicago.

Since then I've often said to my wife that we should go there for a long weekend and check-out all the neat stuff they have in Chicago, including Wrigley Field, the Sears Tower and some great food.

It's often been said that Toronto could be the twin city of Chicago. The cities have similar profiles and sit on the waterfront of a Great Lake.

It was one of the first thing my daughter Melanie noticed, but on closer examination she quickly realized how Toronto is failing while Chicago in thriving.

It's hard to believe this because Toronto used to take pride in its cleanliness, but according to Melanie, there's no comparison.

The litter is a minimum, graffiti doesn't seem to be a problem, there are no bums on the streets and she found the general attitude of the people to be a lot nicer.

She also noticed that the Chicago waterfront isn't cluttered with condominiums. The city isn't "cut off" the way it is in Toronto.

My son Danny made the same observations. He fell in love with the city and wants to go because he felt a much different vibe in Chicago, as compared to Toronto. Chicago is on its way "up" while Toronto is heading in the other direction.

I find it sad, because when I was their age, Toronto was a model city and when I compared to most of the cities I visited, my hometown came out on top.

The streets were tidy, the roads were in good shape, there was no graffiti and the subway wasn't a filthy mess.

Toronto was a functional city run the way Chicago is now. As a business. A serious business run by business minded people with rational thought and fiscally responsible decision-making.

While Chicago has improved, Toronto has been pulled into the mud by a socialist city council, led by a delusional maniac.

Toronto is suffering. All you have to do is look around, and then listen to people who travel to other cities and report back.

Toronto is no longer the model that most other North American cities are compared to. It's become trashy, mismanaged experiment for a pack of losers who are ripping it apart.

When I was in my early 20's wherever I traveled I found comfort in the feeling that Toronto was a better place than pretty much everywhere else.

It's not like that any more.

Category: Family | Stuff

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One Of Dickie's Favourites

June 20, 2008 @ 11:12

One of the great things about my father was how generous he was with his time. He was the ultimate volunteer, giving his time to the Canadian Legion in a executive position, the Stayner Horticultural Club and the Stayner Food Bank, just to name a few.

He was also heavily involved in minor hockey during the 60’s and 70’s, acting mainly as team manager within the Wexford Hockey Association that was based out of Tam O’Shanter Arena at Sheppard and Kennedy in Scarborough.

He was involved in the top level, which at that time was called the MTHL, it would be what Triple A is now.

Back then, a coaching staff would get a team at a young age and then stick with them for a few years. Changes would be made along the way of course, but the core of the team remained constant.

One of the players may dad managed through most of the 1960’s was former Maple Leaf John Anderson, and he was always one of Dickie’s favourites.

Through the years with Dickie, John Anderson was a good player, a good captain and a good kid, and that’s why my dad was so excited one June night in 1977 when he got the call that John had been drafted by the Leafs.

He and Junie got in the car and drove over to the Anderson’s house and shared in the celebration. Dickie was happy for John and proud as punch that one of “his” kids had made it the NHL, let alone being drafted by the Leafs.

Dickie followed John’s career through the NHL, and for the years following that, would often ask me “what John was up to.”

Well, “what John was up to” was becoming a very successful minor league coach, and it culminated with another Calder Cup victory with the Chicago Wolves this spring. One of their victims was the Marlies.

Anderson won two Calder Cups with the Wolves, and he captured a couple of Turner Cups in the International League.

His teams are always near the top of the standings, and a pressing question has been over the past few years, “why hasn’t John Anderson been given an NHL opportunity?”

He certainly has proved that he deserves it, and there are lots of guys who’ve been given a shot with fewer credentials, but there were never any clear answers…. until yesterday, when the Atlanta Thrashers put an end to all the questions by naming John Anderson as their head coach.

“Andy” is back in the NHL and man oh man, let me tell ya, Dickie would have loved it.

Category: Family | Sports

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Dickie And Junie Were Lovers

June 16, 2008 @ 09:17

The weekend was challenging from a personal standpoint, but I’m happy to report it was a lot better than I thought it would be.

First of all, Friday marked what would have been my mom and dad’s 61st anniversary, so needless to my thoughts were with my mother, who had to endure the first “notable day” since my dad passed away in March.

I was up north having decided that Junie would probably be better off on her own to reflect and remember and probably cry a little bit.

Finally, about eight o’clock Friday night I gave her a call and was impressed with her spirit and attitude. Her voice was bright and she sounded fine… to the point where we didn’t even talk about the anniversary. Instead she talked about going over the Canadian Tire and buying a new hose to water her flowers.

I hung up feeling a lot better, but wondering how I would feel on Father’s Day, the first without Big Dick.

It was OK.

I still count my blessings that we had Dickie for as long as we did, almost 83 years; so on days like yesterday, rather then get bummed out and feel sorry for yourself, its better to reflect on the good times and the great memories to get you through.

It’s all relative I guess. My buddy Darren lost his dad at the age of 66, so I imagine his perspective is a little different. Sixty-six is much too young, and simply not fair.

I actually felt pretty good yesterday. The tin palace is situated in a place my parents introduced me to when I was about six years old, so everywhere I looked yesterday, I saw my dad.

On the end of the dock fishing. Down by the rapids fishing. At Young’s Point fishing and just sitting on the dock looking up the lake.

It comes down to this. You have a choice. Be bummed out, or appreciate what you had and feed off the memories.

Dickie was a great man, who lived a long and productive life and we had him longer than most people have their fathers. It’s sad that he’s gone, but the memories are happy. Very happy!

Life goes on.

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Tribute To Dickie

May 2, 2008 @ 10:00

Al Falkner is a long time friend of mine. We grew up in Scarborough and went through a lot of things together, including the tragic death of his father in a car accident way back in 1977 when we were only 21 years old.

Yesterday he sent me this e-mail.

Thanks Al.

Freddie,

"Hope you and your family are doing well, especially your mom.

My memories of your dad have him standing in front of a bbq, flipping burgers at the lake with his Wexford jacket on when we were maybe 13 years old. Something my Dad never did. Brenda doesn't let me BBQ either. Everything comes out Cajun style. Blackened.

I remember having a beer in your backyard when the pool first went in. Your dad came home and sat with all of us and had a drink. Another thing I never got to do with my dad.

At your wedding a bunch of us were heading back to my house to continue the party. I tried to buy a bottle of rum off him and he gave it to me and refused to take any money for it.

I think of him often. Every time we drive through Stayner and I see the beautiful flower barrels along the main street, I can picture him tending to them. I believe you told me those were his project when they lived up there."

Hope to see you soon,
Al and Brenda

Category: Family | Friends

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What Would I Do

May 1, 2008 @ 10:17

I realize money isn’t everything and money definitely doesn’t guarantee happiness, but as the father of a 25 year old woman, I can’t help but wonder it would be like to have her walk in the door and tell me she was marrying a 37 year old rich guy.

That was it was like for the parents of 25 year old Swede Josephine Johansson who was yesterday officially introduced as 37 year old Mats Sundin’s fiancée.

I’ve got to admit, if my daughter brought at 37 year old guy into the house and I didn’t know his financial situation, I’d probably be pissed.

I’d wonder what this old bastard wanted with my little girl and I’d be concerned for her future. What about having kids and her retirement. The old prick will probably be useless down the road.

However, once it was presented to me that he was worth tens of millions of dollars I wonder how I’d react.

To be honest, I’m sure it would lessen the blow and allow me to get my head around my little darlin’ marrying someone who comes across as a cradle snatcher.

All of a sudden I wouldn’t worry so much about her future knowing that even with a pre-nup she’d be set for life before life had really even begun. I’d realize the burden of child rearing would be made that much easier and who the hell cares about retirement because retirement would start the day she tied the knot.

And I’ve got to admit, it wouldn’t hurt that along with the money came the profile of my daughter marrying a freakin’ Toronto Maple Leaf for cryin’ out loud.

I might even overlook the fact it’s Mats Sundin, although I’m sure at family dinners I’d be all over him for not accepting a trade at the deadline and for keeping company with the likes of Tie Domi.

And get his opinion on why, still to this day, a team has never won a Stanley Cup with a European captain.

Category: Family | Sports

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Dickie Lives On, Sort Of

April 21, 2008 @ 07:40

This is Alliyah. She’s my brother’s granddaughter which makes me her great uncle.

For months Alliya and her big sister Mayia have been badgering their parents for hamsters, but they got nowhere.

However, being smart little turds they went to the soft spot and started badgering their grandparents, and eventually my sister in law Gwen gave in and bought two hamsters and everything necessary for owning hamsters.

Their names?

Mayia named hers French Fry. Why, I have no idea.

But Alliyah named hers Richard. After her great grandfather.

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Thanks Everybody

April 2, 2008 @ 08:49

Thanks for taking the time to leave a message on the website about my dad.

It’s really been great therapy. Especially for Junie who’s thrilled that so many “young” people acknowledged Dickie, and especially proud that so many people who knew him had such wonderful things to say about him.

I’ve had several people ask me how they can send Junie a note directly. All you have to do is hit the “contact me” button on this website and I’ll make sure she gets it.

Among the things I’ve been doing over the past few days is going through some pictures, and it’s funny, one of my favourites is this one.

You can’t even tell it’s my dad and my son Danny in the boat, but it epitomizes so much about him.

A lake, a fishing rod and doing something for one of his grand kids. Dickie also bought me the flag pole and Canadian flag.

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