Hypergraphia is a condition that causes people to transcribe their thoughts uncontrollably. I don't suffer from it in the clinical sense, but I may be borderline. My blog is the cyber-wall where I spray paint my thoughts for all to see. By the way, if you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at www.hypergraffiti.com, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad

I really meant to post this yesterday, which was my dad's birthday, but the day got away from me. I mentioned awhile ago that some of my time this month had been absorbed with a project which I couldn't blog about due to secrecy concerns. The project was a memory scrapbook for my dad's 70th, full of pictures and tributes from family and friends. It did take up a lot of time but I loved doing it -- I am a bit obsessive about archiving photos and memories; I hate to think of pictures and stories being lost in the mists of time, which is why, despite my utter lack of artistic or crafty skills, I do the odd bit of scrapbooking (I made a similar scrapbook for my mom on a significant birthday a few years back).

Anyway, since it was a big important birthday and my dad is an important person in my life, I thought I'd dedicate a blog entry to him and reproduce here the first page of the scrapbook, and the tribute that I wrote for him in the book.

My earliest memories of my Dad are of him playing the guitar and singing. It seemed like music was a constant background to life in our house when I was a child. I remember listening to and learning from his vast repertoire of songs, which ranged from hymns to old love songs to a wide variety of silly songs. The fact that I inherited my Dad’s love for music without inheriting his excellent singing voice has always been a great sorrow to me, but at least I know where the roots of my lifelong love of music lie!

The “silly songs” included novelty classics such as Alan Sherman’s “Camp Granada.” I remember how excited I was years later, during my college days, when in a second-hand record store I found a copy of Sherman’s album “My Son the Folksinger” and bought it as a gift for my dad. Nowadays we’d just go online and find the album, but back then something like that was a real discovery and I was proud to be able to give it to him!

Other “silly songs” were not originally intended to be silly, but became that way under my father’s unique treatment. It was years before I learned that the old song did not go:

“Cab driver, drive by Mary’s place,
I just want to throw this pie into her face.”

I suspected, however, that there was something amiss with the Christmas carol that began,

“Watch that torch, Jeannette, Isabella,
You’ll burn the house down around our ears.
Call up the man at the fire insurance,
We’ll have a new address this Christmas.
Hush! Hush! Don’t tell him how it happened,
Hush! Hush! Don’t breathe a single word!”

And of course, what Christmas would be complete without a rendition of,

“Don we now our gay apparel, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la, la, la,
You kiss Charlie, I’ll kiss Harold, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la, la, la!”

After all these years it is sometimes difficult to remember the correct versions of songs. In church recently we rose to sing “At the Cross, at the Cross” and I turned to my dad to mouth the words, “At the Bar, At the Bar, Where I Smoked My First Cigar…”

Musical evenings with my father were usually pleasant times except when my parents conspired to make me cry. I was a hard-hearted child who was not moved by tales of human sorrow, but my folks learned quickly that any song featuring a dead dog could make me cry. Just a few bars of my dad singing, “Old Shep Has a Wonderful Home,” or “Why Don’t You Send My Dog Home, Uncle Sam?” could send me running from the room in tears, accompanied by gales of parental laughter. As with my parents’ favourite trick of removing the head from my toy lamb “Poor Sin,” this was all done in a spirit of love … I think.

Dad knew how to make everything fun and I learned early on that having a good sense of humour was one of the most valuable qualities a person could have. I remember him reading my Sabbath School lessons to me on Friday nights and making jokes out of all the stories so that I giggled all the way through it. Of course, this is the same parent who answered my question, “What is a Rhodes Scholar?” by saying, “Someone who pays their way through school by working on the roads in the summer.” I quickly learned to take many things my father told me with a grain of salt.

His sense of humour stood me in good stead throughout my adolescence as Dad usually saw the funny side of things. The gargantuan task of teaching me to drive fell to him and I vividly remember rolling gently past a stop sign with my father in the passenger’s seat chanting, “Brake! Brake! … Break on thy cold grey stones, O Sea, and O that my heart could utter, the thoughts that arise in me!” I’m sure there were many thoughts arising at that time that he didn’t utter. Fortunately for me he always kept it light. I can probably only remember my Dad being angry at me once or twice in my entire life, and it was always short-lived.

The fact that he could quote Tennyson while I ran a red light was typical not only of his patience and humour but also of his love of literature, books and reading which made my family an excellent one for a writer to grow up in. At a gathering of writers recently some of the other people present were talking about how various family members didn’t understand or appreciate their ambition to become a writer. When they asked about my experience I replied that in my family – of printers, English teachers, and avid readers – becoming a writer seemed like a perfectly natural career choice! I’ve often wished more of my Dad’s stories were written down and I was very pleased a few years ago when he released the very-limited-edition “Don’s Dissertations” which gathered together some of the short pieces he had written as Superintendent’s Remarks during his years as a Sabbath School Superintendent.

As my Dad and Mom approach 45 years of marriage next year I am deeply impressed by the example they have shown me of a lifelong relationship between two people who are there for each other no matter what. One of my greatest hopes is that in 30 years Jason and I will still be best friends the way Mom and Dad are.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the stories I could tell, but I am grateful to my father for the heritage of music, books, faith, love and (especially) laughter that has shaped my whole life and that I hope to pass on to the next generation! Jason and I wish you every happiness, Dad, on your 70th birthday and many more wonderful years.


Blogger cathrina said...

amazing blog..my dad stays in great britain and i just gave him a call after i went through your blog..he will come down this christmas and we will celebrate it together..

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Your Dad said...

Hi Trudy,

It's an unusual feeling to read about yourself in print, and as I was reading this particular blog, many thoughts raced through my mind. For one, that photo was taken when I was 17, and knew everything. I only wish I could know as much now as I thought I did then. Also, I don't think I truly understood love at first sight until I looked at you through the nursery window at the Grace Hospital (they kept the fathers at a safe distance in those days). You were a little bruised and slightly battered, and in need of a cleanup, but I couldn't identify a more wonderful child in that room. Over the ensuing years that love has been returned many times over.
I've had lots of good things happen in my life, but you are right there at the top.
Thank you for making my 70th such a memorable event.
Love, Dad

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, see, Trudy's dad made me cry too.

Very moving stuff (although the whole lamb's head removal makes me concerned for your sanity, Trudy--talk about Silence of the Lambs--well, at least you couldn't hear the toy lamb scream).

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Tasra Dawson said...

This is a wonderful layout you created. I agree with you that I hate seeing photos and stories get lost in "the mists of time." I even talked about it during my NBC11 appearance a few weeks ago when I demonstrated creating a tribute album for my grandpa. Keep up the great work!

8:26 PM  
Blogger TrudyJ said...

Dad, thanks so much. It's an honour to be able to pay a tribute to someone who means so much! I guess that's why we celebrate birthdays ...

cathrina and tina, thanks for your comments. Tina, I remain relatively unscathed by the lamb experience, although it probably explains a lot about me psychologically. tasra, it's exciting to know that a "real" scrapbooker read my blog! Thanks!

10:58 AM  

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