Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Sad Farewell

On July 2, 2013 at 3:15 a.m., the world lost a gentle man and a gentleman.  He was not only my Dad, he was also my very good friend.  Our lives will never be the same.  I am so very grateful to have known and loved him.

Thank you everyone for attending our service today and for being here to reflect on and celebrate the life of our beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Our Dad would be so thrilled to see each and every one of you here today as you all truly represent the many and varied pieces that made up the puzzle that was his wonderful life. It is the best example of and a wonderful testament to a life so very well lived to have you all here this morning.

Please know that each of you held a special place in Dad's life and in his heart. However you may have known Dad; be it as a coach, a golfing or a coffee buddy; an uncle, a grandpa, a father-in-law or a friend; whether you knew him as a young man, an old man or if you were lucky enough to have known him as both, he was indeed many things to many people.

But to me, he was not only my Dad, he was also my great and true friend and I am so very lucky to have had him in my life; to teach me right from wrong, to be a stellar example of how to be a good person and a shining example (with big shoes to try and fill) of how to behave in this world as a good, good man. I will miss so very many things about him, but with each thing that I will miss, I have learned so much from him, just by watching the way he conducted himself in this world.

I remember and I will miss... my Dad's sense of humor. He enjoyed nothing better than to joke and good-naturedly tease. When I was growing up, we had a running joke about who was sexier, "The Bionic Woman' or "Wonder Woman". More recently, our teasing included why in the world "Corner Gas" was a funny tv show!! No matter how I tried, I could not convince him that it was the greatest show ever made! I think perhaps the lines between comedy and reality were blurred a bit too much. The fact that that show ran so closely to my/our own life story hit a chord with both of us deeply. I received books, calendars and dvds of the show from him as Christmas presents. He would also send me things in the mail with nothing but a newspaper clipping or picture about the show with some wisecrack he had written on it.

But the most touching thing he gave me was a face of Brent Butt, which he had whittled, painted and mounted on a piece of beautifully varnished wood, on one of his homemade display easels. It is one of my most cherished possessions.

The stories he would come back with from coffee row; the time they spent the evening of "phlyping' socks with the Janetts; his annual golf tournaments with Uncle Magee and Aunty Syl, Nanny and Sprout and Ken and Lil; the time he broke the kitchen table playing cards with Aunty Alice and Uncle Bud when he dove into the middle of it while trying to grab the last spoon during a card game; hitting Aunt Yvonne in the head with a bun when she asked him to please pass the them to her one Christmas dinner; adjudicating the church choir with Uncle Keith after their Sunday anthems by holding up a score card giving (generally) positive reviews after they had finished singing; giving people like Lois Smandych nicknames such as "Sweetie" and most recently, having people compare him and Uncle Arnold to Statler and Waldorf, the two old men from "The Muppet Show" who sat in the balcony and heckled people, when the two of them attended public outings like hockey games and funerals together, all show how much he appreciated the "funner" side of life. What I learned by this from him... is to focus on the pure and simple things in life and to approach life in an open and positive way.

I remember and I will miss ... my Dad's ability to fix or build anything. As a kid, he was always able to fix any broken toy I brought him, or build a bike rack, install shelves and cupboards or make a table, deacon's bench or foot stool.

When I was growing up, he always supported and was present at any activity I was involved in. Speaking on behalf of his children, we never had any doubt that whenever we needed help in any way, all we needed to do was ask....and more often than not, we didn't even have to ask. What I learned by this from to be reliable and dependable.

I remember and I will miss... his strong sense of committment... be it to his loving family, his cherished friends or his beloved community. As a testament to this, just look around you and you will see representatives of all these things sitting here this morning.

His involvement with hockey and the "Cougars" gave Dad's life a purpose and a meaning, blessed him with life-long friends and countless stories to reflect upon for years. All of my growing up years, I remember watching Dad coach hockey and all the things that involved and meant for him. He was both humbled and so very proud when the Cougars recently began to present the Glenn Cowan Community Involvelment Award annually to a player who displays oustanding interest and involvement in their community . What I learned by this from how your life has more interest and meaning when you have a goal, a passion and an involvement that goes beyond your daily existence.

I will remember and I will miss ...his sense of keeping things simple and meaningful; his belief in having and keeping a hobby and the importance of living with a sense of community. He built many bird houses with Uncle Arnold; "whittled" and created many beautiful things from wood; he golfed and decorated the town at Christmas; he bird watched and loved to 'go for a drive' around town; he attended meetings and helped to organize town events.

He was humbled to receive a Qu'Appelle Valley Volunteer Recognition Award in 1999 for his many years of volunteering in Bredenbury. In 2002, he was presented with the the Queen's Jubilee medal, by then Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan Lynda Haverstock, which is to honor significant contributions to community & country by Canadians. In 2007, he met Princess Anne during her visit to Saltcoats (spit*) where she met with veterans from this area during her Royal visit to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Regina Rifles.

His friends knew no boundary to age or gender. He was "Uncle Glenn" to many people, of which the actual blood relationship was in the minority. What I learned by this from him to live a life with dedication, dignity and integrity.

I remember and I will miss... how Dad lived with a 'bigger picture' in mind and how he had such a sense of giving to others. If anyone present here worked with Dad on the Christmas light committee, you know that he was a man with a plan. He was a man on indeterminate focus, dedication, determination and drive. As kids at home, we always knew what to do and how he wanted it done. "Determined" is a polite word to use to describe his work ethic once he got a notion to do something!! You may not be surprised to hear that on Dad's last day on earth, he was thinking about and planning "that Cougar reunion and golf tournament" for next summer. (He has been doing this for several years). I watched my Dad work with people in his capacity as an organizer, a coach and a business man for many, many years. What I learned by this from to be a good person by thinking and acting on behalf of others and about the importance of being a man of your word.

I remember and I will miss... writing to him on Sunday evenings to recap what was going on in my life that week. Since Mom passed away, I wrote to him regularly and sent him the weekly "Word Jumble" from the newspaper in Saskatoon. Our family has solved probably thousands of Word Jumbles with him over the years. Our house is full of little scraps of paper with cryptic writing on it from when we tried to figure out how the words of the day were spelled. Not a day could go buy that didn't feel complete for Dad until he had successfully 'done the puzzle'. Some of these days felt complete quickly; on other "tough puzzle days", not so much! What I learned by this from that love can be shared from miles away and that just because you aren't close in physical proximity, it doesn't mean that you can't be close to one another's heart.

But one of the most powerful things I have learned from my Dad is how, when you live a long, good and loving life, it comes back to you a thousand fold in your later years. When Mom passed away seven years ago, a piece of Dad went with her too. His love for her was whole-hearted, unconditional, complete, absolute and without waiver. He missed her so terribly much and no matter how hard we all tried to comfort him and be there for him, no one and nothing seemed to be able to fill the whole in his heart and in his life that only Mom was able to fill.

However, the care and support that he received from his friends and neighbors these last few years has meant so much not only to him, but to us as a family as well. To this end, nobody deserves more special recognition than our dear friend Uncle Arnold Vickers.

Dad and Uncle Arnold have known each other for years; since they were both young men living in Bredenbury. They raised their families, coached hockey and spent countless hours doing woodwork together.

In the last little while, as Dad started getting weaker and more frail, Uncle Arnold's never-ending friendship and unfaultering support is an example to us all of what a real and true life-long friendship is like. He checked on Dad every single day...often more than once.

Our family will be forever grateful to you, Uncle Vic, for everything you have done for Dad and our family. You give new meaning to the term "extended family". We love you a lot and are forever indebted and grateful for all you have done. What I learned by this from them... is the importance and value of having and being a true friend.

I would be remiss at this point if I were not to mention our sister Brenda. Oh my dear sister, if not for you, Dad's quality of life these last few years would have been so much less fulfilling. Since you moved home to be with Dad, your ride has not always been smooth, but it has always been paved with the most loving of intention, the greatest of respect and the deepest of love. Dad told me so many times how good you were to him, how much he loved you and how much you spoiled him. You allowed him to hold on to his independence and his self-worth for a very long time. We cannot ever adequately thank you enough for giving Dad so much dignity, respect and love in his final years. What you gave him is a gift that we can never repay, other than with our thanks, our praise and our undying gratitude.

Since Tuesday morning, we have admitted to a sense of feeling rudderless, aimless, directionless, with a new sense of being suddenly thrown off course. I have a feeling it is going to take some time to get used to our new lives without the physical presence of our dear, old Dad.

But as you have heard, I believe that he has shown us all how to pick ourselves up, re-adjust to our "new normal", and carry on in a manner that would make him proud. He always led by example and now we shall follow in the manner that he so gallantly showed us all how to do.

We love you so much Dad, and will forever miss you. Although we won't be able to be next to you anymore, be assured that when we go to a Cougar's game, hang our Christmas decorations, attend a Remembrance Day ceremony, catch a whiff of Gold Bond, see a lovely manicured lawn and flower bed or have a 'snifter' at happy hour, you will be thought of warmly; with love, affection and never-ending admiration.

Oh Dad, I hope that you and Mom are together, holding hands like you always did, watching us from a lovely, sunny garden somewhere, with your Gaither music blaring, and that you can feel the love that is with you now and forever. You leave us all with such lovely memories and a love that will last forever, and really, what could be a better gift?

Thank you for being a man that I can only aspire to be like one day and for showing me how to do it. I am so very, very proud to be your son and to have had you as my mentor, my friend and most importantly to have had the absolute honor and privilege to call Dad!

I love you!

-Written with much love

July 3-5, 2013



A table full of love and memories of a life well lived.

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