Today I ate an Egg McMuffin. My sister told me to (you can find her at www.itsnotthatserious.net) , as a remembrance for our father, who passed away one year ago today. But now, as well as sad, I feel totally nauseous. I never ever eat McDonalds, never mind anything with sausage patty inside of it or a hash brown next to it (because if you’re going to get it, you have to get the meal, right?) I didn’t even know my Dad’s guilty pleasure was a greasy Egg McMuffin. But, these things I do know.
He held my Bat Mitzvah party, a late night cocktail event, at Bersani & Carlevale, somehow sensing that what I really wanted was to feel cosmopolitan and grown up.
He introduced me to all kinds of tastes, textures, and international foods. Some of my best birthday dinners were at Scaramouche or the Boulevard Club. He got me to try tongue, and turned me vegetarian with sweetbreads.
He spent his weekends with anywhere from 2 to 5 kids trailing behind him, sometimes with a spouse, sometimes just on his own. He took care of us as he knew best, if you count teaching 6 year olds dirty jokes as childcare. He never, in his 70 years, changed a diaper.
When he made me cheese melted on toast (the only thing I would eat from age 3-6) he used extra old cheddar and fancy artisan breads, and he never covered the bread completely with the cheese.
When I had my wisdom teeth out, he came almost every day to visit, bringing books and surprises to cheer me up.
He bought me an Easy Bake Oven and sampled every delicious cake I cooked up with that light bulb.
He loved to wear blues and greens, which were the colours of his eyes.
His secretary had to write my letters to camp as his handwriting was unreadable. But he still wrote me at least twice a week.
He sent me a Valentines Box when I was at the University of British Columbia, somehow sensing how homesick I was. Inside were chocolates, several Valentines cards, a Marci Lipman Sweatshirt covered in hearts, a teddy bear, and an Olympics sweatshirt.
He had a glove compartment full of candies, especially jubejubes and black babies.
He took us on adventures. Everything with him was fun: sampling Sasparilla at country fairs, car breakdowns on country roads, art gallery visits, Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, and any other cultural pursuits he could find. He used to drive his BMW, laden with children, flying over a bump on York Mills Road, speeding and then going airborne, as we screamed, ‘Do it again. Do it again.’
He used to call my house and ask ‘Where’s ___(insert child’s name)?’ I’d answer and then he’d say, ‘OK bye.’ And that was it. He just wanted to know they were ok.
He took us seriously. He took our education seriously. He took our opinions, our actions, our honour seriously. He took not quitting seriously. When we were not happy, it truly troubled him.
He believed in giving back and never taking for granted. He supported Covenant House because he had 5 healthy children and 11 amazing grandchildren. He supported Sick Kids because they were incredible when his granddaughter (my niece) had Neuroblastoma.
He wasn’t shy to kiss and hug and tell people how he felt. He loved nicknames. He seemed silly at times, but that was his love of life shining through.
He wasn’t perfect. He was congenitally late. He sometimes let me down, or went back on a word he shouldn’t have given. He was infuriating at times. He’d lecture me for hours, or would obsess on one detail. He left really long messages on my voicemail.
I didn’t even know that my Dad liked Egg McMuffins. But I did know that he loved me.