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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"I Don't Know Where You Get This From"

It was fifteen years ago this September and I was standing in Pearson International Airport surrounded by fourteen of my closest friends and family.  The day had finally come, I was headed for Africa.

As my friends hugged me and told me they'd miss me, we cried and I wondered if I wasn't losing my mind.

Then it came to say good-bye to my Dad.  We had had some painful years between us since the loss of my mother and his wife.  Finding our way without her, my anger often found its way toward him.  But those days were behind us, I had said my apologies and we were on solid ground.

As I approached him, he opened his familiar arms and embraced me in one of his bear hugs that momentarily squeezes the air from my lungs.  Then, pulling away he put his hands on my shoulders and said, "I have no idea where you get this from".

The truth was I didn't either.  He and my mother had done very little traveling in their thirty four years together.  Six children puts a bit of a damper on the travel budget.  Not to mention my mothers fear of highways, bi-ways and most modes of transportation.

The thing that drove me to Africa was a desire to leave no page unturned, to leave no dreams left un-lived, no regrets. I was also going out of a desire to help, to save, to make a difference in peoples lives.

As I sit here, drumming up memories and spinning them together into something I hope people will want to read, I took a break and scrolled through Facebook and stared at my Dad's picture that is currently my profile picture.  It was taken the year I was born, 1972.  He had just been accepted to the Fire Department as a paid employee after being a volunteer.  I look at his kind eyes, the same colour as mine, the ones that I only had to meet for a moment when I wanted something.  He couldn't say no.

But more than just the memories of the soft hearted Dad I have been blessed to have all these years, I'm struck by something he said just a few months ago.  The doctor assigned to his case came for her first visit and she wanted to get to know him.  She asked questions about his family, his life and his career, and what gave him life.  His answer to that came quickly, 'Helping people.  If someone needs help, I want to be there'.

So Dad, fifteen years later I can give you the answer to that question in the airport.  Who do I get it from Dad?  The need to do what I believe in because I know it will help others?

I get it from you.

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