Father's Day,..........enjoy your day and have fun ,appreciate your family & friends,cause they can be gone in an instant. Here's a story from today's Gazette.
I love thunderstorms and blizzards. They remind me of my dad. They're emblematic of what he taught me: Master your fear. Never let it shackle you. Face it, deal with it and move on. He's been gone more than 10 years now, but his influence continues.
My dad, Tony Malazdrewicz, worked on the railway for nearly four decades. He was a station agent and train order operator, working the small towns that dotted branch lines leading to and from Winnipeg. Most towns had a train station, a plain, functional building that housed a business office and passenger waiting room. There were ice houses and coal bins, freight sheds and living quarters. Those modest living quarters were home to my family as we grew up in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The train station was the centre point of the town. The passenger train would grind to a stop each day. People would come and go. Farm supplies would be unloaded from boxcars and piled high in the freight shed, alongside shipments of bottled beer destined for the local hotel. The grocery and hardware store owners would come by to pick up new stock for the approaching season. Tractors, combines and hay balers would be unloaded from flatcars, onto the weed-covered dirt and gravel ramp on the other side of the tracks, near the grain elevator.
When something important happened, Dad would send and receive telegrams, linking our small community to the rest of the world, using the mysterious dots and dashes of Morse code.
Everyone in town knew where the station was, and everyone knew and liked my dad. He was an old-school gentleman, a diplomat. He understood the value of respect. He didn't give it lightly, but once you earned it, you won his loyalty and trust. He was not without his flaws, but his honesty, unshakable family values and rock-solid work ethic defined who he was. He also had a pragmatic, stoic outlook. He believed that, in this world, there are things you can change, and things you can't. If you can change something, you must. If you can't, you deal with it.
One summer, when I was about 5 years old, a new family dog appeared - Cindy, a beautiful golden cocker spaniel. She came from a farm somewhere in Saskatchewan and arrived, of course, in the baggage car of the passenger train.
The first order of business was to build a doghouse. Early one evening, Dad slid open the big freight shed door, gathered together his tools and some scrap lumber, and the two of us set about the task.
While we were measuring, sawing and hammering, the sky outside began to darken ominously as a massive prairie thunderstorm brewed overhead. Rain began to fall, first dancing off the weathered wooden platform between the station and the tracks, then changing to hail and hammering down mercilessly. Thunder exploded, one howitzer-voiced blast after another. Lightning electrified the twilight, creating blasts of surreal, blue, high-noon brilliance.
I was terrified. We put down our tools and, together, stood in the open doorway, watching the storm unleash its fury. Dad put his hand on my shoulder and talked soothingly, admiringly even, about how much he loved the power and beauty of thunderstorms. I felt my fear dissolve. I felt safe.
Over the years, our family moved often as Dad's work assignments changed. A new town meant a different house, a strange school and the necessity of making new friends. To a kid, this is a scary prospect, but Dad was always there to help me adapt to the new reality.
One winter, in one of these towns, a massive, howling blizzard was paralyzing the countryside. Visibility was near zero. Yet there was Dad, grinning, getting dressed to go outside. He suggested we go for a walk. I agreed with some trepidation, and he bundled me up against the elements.
We walked out into that blizzard, down the main street of our town, past the barbershop, the pool room and the abandoned restaurant. I think we only went as far as the post office and back, a few blocks at most, but for all I knew, we could have walked to the far side of the moon.
Outside, it was amazingly quiet. The swirling snow absorbed every sound except that of our footsteps, softly crunching through snow drifts. I couldn't see much. The world had disappeared into a disorienting whiteout, but I wasn't afraid. Dad was there.
He was always there, through the fun stuff, through the tough stuff and, most importantly, through all the scary stuff. I may not have realized it at the time, but I know it now: He was always watching my back, and he still is.
Dad believed that, in any situation, if you look carefully at what you're facing, then prepare and move forward with respect and confidence, you'll be fine. Purposeful action has honour and dignity. Inaction leads nowhere. The key to it all is mastering your fear. This is his greatest enduring legacy, one I was determined to pass on when it became my turn to be a father.
So, yes, I love thunderstorms and blizzards because they remind me of my dad. My two daughters love thunderstorms and blizzards too. Dad would be proud.
Chris Malazdrewicz is a filmmaker living and working in Montreal.