From Gypsy to Blogger (a tribute to Dad)

Like many pre-teens, I spent many nights gathering evidence to prove I was adopted. My childhood photos seemed to suggest that my “parents” won me in a poker game from a band of gypsies.

.gypsies

This theory was shattered one night when I found the first existing childhood photo of my Dad. For a few years I was under the impression that my Dad was little Ricky Ricardo, and I was counting on a sizeable inheritance from his acting days. Somewhat sadly, I realized I looked just like him as a child, which I’ve already documented here.

Little RICKY

My gypsy adoption theory blown, I began to suspect my entire family was adopted before me. I had four siblings, so we were like a French Canadian version of the von Trapps, only hairier and tone deaf. There simply could be no other explanation. I am nothing like these people.

I love politics. I have interest in history. I listen to opera music. I write. I read poetry. I travel. I eat food not found on cholesterol warning charts. I enjoy being alone. I am simply a different breed.

I fear it is a secret my father took to his grave. I don’t quite know I could look exactly like my father and not be Miss Daisy’s (aka Mom). She’s a charitable woman, but she can’t keep a secret more than three minutes. I might suspect cloning, but my Dad was from Maine, so science was not likely. On the other hand, inbreeding definitely is. That might explain my siblings.

Being the youngest, with a nine-year age gap (woohoo Catholicism!), I was basically an only child. My dad was a firefighter, and worked doing roofing and siding and plowing snow as side jobs. My siblings claim he wasn’t involved in their childhood much as a result. They never went on vacations, which they should be grateful for. When I was 13, my Dad discovered camping.

Thankfully camping for him involved a trailer, not a tent. There was no way I was going to sleep in a tent with bugs and no indoor plumbing.   For two summers I was subjected to this way of life, which I dreaded. I feel guilty saying that now, because it was a bonding experience with my Dad that my siblings never had. What made it so horrible was that my Dad ate one meal a day, at night. He would eat a donut in the morning in the truck, and then drive for 12 hours straight listening to bluegrass music. I was trapped in the middle of the bench seat in the truck and only allowed one cassette tape a day. I tried to compromise with Randy Travis, who was at least tolerable country music from my perspective.

Dad tried to make me happy though. For every two hour side trip to see Canada’s largest ball of yarn, he would hike an hour in blistering sun to take me to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I remember he drove into downtown Ottawa with our trailer in tow, impossible to park in a city, because I whined incessantly about the new Corey Hart album that came out. He found a record store to buy it for me. And I repaid him by refusing to go see the locks on the Rideau Canal because I was an over-hungry, PMSing, miserable teenager and just wanted to listen to my new cassette. I still feel guilty about that.

When I look at my nieces and nephews, who go to Disney every year, and don’t get to “see” things, it makes me grateful for my Dad and his sense of adventure. My Dad wanted to be a pilot in the Marine Corps but he was color blind. He had a sense of fearlessness and wanderlust. Even though he only took me to Canada, I was lucky to see the crazy things he dragged me to, like Magnetic Hill and the Rocks in New Brunswick. Getting to experience my distant family there and see the places where my ancestors lived in Nova Scotia sticks with me. The Basilica of Sainte Anne de Beaupre in Quebec is the site of a martyrdom and a miraculous healing in my ancestry. And seeing the Stanley Cup with my Dad is something I won’t forget. As a child I begged to go to Disney, but now I realize my Dad gave me an appreciation for nature and the important things in life rather than consumer sideshows.

Even though I don’t relate to the rest of my family, I’m okay with that. Because my Dad was a lot like me, so I know I’m not the crazy one. My last words to him were that I would make him proud. I’m not sure writing a blog or book with stories about my sex life falls into that category, but I like to think the subject matter is not the point. He had my dry sense of humor. I think he would appreciate that I’m sharing it with the world.

I never knew until his funeral that he frequently said, “You have to get up a day early to get ahead of Danny.” At least there was one person in my family who saw me for who I really am. Now if only I could figure out who my real mother is…

 

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