Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Origins - Part Two

My father, David James McIvor, was born in 1951. At this very moment, I have forgotten his birthday -- more than slightly embarrassing -- but I happen to know that his Zodiac sign is Pisces, so we're fairly close to a specific date. He had three older brothers: Malcolm, who died a few years back of drug and alcohol addiction-related factors; Trevor, who lives in William's Lake and has ever since I knew him; and Lawerence, who lives in Qualicum Bay. He, my younger brother, and I currently live in Parksville. We're a family, of sorts, and it's been a good few years.

David grew up in Errington. His father, Cecil, was a sawyer and operated a mill next door to the school on Grafton. My father worked from a very young age and hasn't stopped, even now. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade and began working in the forestry industry in the 1960s. By the time I was born, he was an established feller working for MacMillian-Bloedel (yes, that's the correct word). He got seriously hurt a few years before the time that M&B gave way to Weyerhauser, probably in the early to mid-1990s. The tree that got him was supposed to fall one way, but the top decided to break off and fall in the opposite direction. David's right upper arm and shoulder were smashed and he sustained serious, but ultimately non-paralyzing, damage to his lower to mid-vertebrae. Later, his knee went, and he's been in pain ever since. I often wonder if I could endure such tribulations as he has (often with a smile!), and to be honest, I doubt it. David no longer works due to his injuries, though he's been known to get bored enough to do most of the housework and some yardwork. I'm glad he doesn't have to push a lawnmower around, though...

He met my mother when she was fourteen years old, so that would have made him eighteen... I figure this was more standard and accepted back then. Either way, they were together up until shortly before David was seriously injured. And liklely separated for reasons closely related to not just my mother's alcoholism, but perhaps the priority he gave work over family as well. Needless to say, the separation hit him quite hard, as I think it would anyone in that position. To go from having a wife, two kids, two dogs and a nice, large house on Hirst Avenue to having none of those things save a loving hound and an empty, lonely house in the space of a week must have been traumatic. From what I've observed of men his age, I don't doubt that the sudden removal of all stability and security must have been horrible.

In the time since the separation and his injury, my father went through many changes. After the death of his elder brother, David became close to and eventually married Marlene, Malcolm's widow. I'm not certain how to present this, it seems a bit odd, perhaps a bit more than that, but they were happy and as a young teenager, I didn't mind. It allowed for some amusing "mountain people" jokes and the like, which I still chuckle at from time to time. Marlene came from a troubled background centering on drug addiction, which led to her abandoning him for an abusive relationship with a drug dealer. We have not since heard from her in several years, and I do not miss her. She hurt my father too much by doing that to him. Perhaps she will be forgotten, but she will never be forgiven.

Looking back with a new perspective, I must say that my growing up in what amounted to a broken home and watching as another was torn asunder by death and another by drug addiction, has led to my viewing relationships as a risk. Not that I've ever meant to, but of all the relationships that I've seen, the three most major ended and ended disastrously. This is not to say that I have not seen good and lasting ones, both my surviving Uncles on my father's side have lived in long and loving relationships and my grandparents have been married forever, but the ones closest to me have all ended poorly. Perhaps, I view all relationships as fundamentally finite -- which may undermine everything before ever I meet someone.

A stark realization.

But one that I'm aware of now, so perhaps amends can be made...

Presently, my father is a changed man. It was a slow change, and one that was not entirely positive. David is no longer able to be as physically active as he once was and for a man who's element was the wilderness, I believe it must have been and continues to be deeply disappointing for him to not be able to wander into the bush and simply be a man in the forest, a man of the forest. He continues to have a deep and fundamental love of nature and the natural world. If he was to revere anything, it would be what one might call the natural order, something far apart from the orders of mankind. Though I suspect that my father's always been something of a misanthropist, he has become reclusive as he has gotten older. I believe it is because the world around him, the changing nature of Parksville and our society, has disturbed him. Not only disturbed him, but very much disappointed him. He's of the mind that we're missing something in this technologically-advanced and economically-developed civilization that's developed during his lifetime and I'm starting to believe him.

Things are too fast, and people tend to miss the important things because they're either not willing to wait for them to grow or willing to put in the work to see it through.

In that way, he truly is "old school."

Though he may seem reticent and quiet to start, this is changing. He's at his best when he's in comfortable and familiar situations and environs. He is a good man, a hard-working man, a classical man, but of all things, he is an honest man -- especially when it's inconvenient, since that's when it's most amusing.

Once you meet him and get to know him, you'll soon realize where I get my deeply irreverent sense of humour.

As I get older, I have become more fearful of my father leaving us. He's an ardent and unapologetic smoker, something I've grown to respect despite the consequences. I hope he'll be one of those statistical anomalies -- I had been without a father for so long during my childhood that I'm not prepared to give him up now that we're just getting to know each other well.

But, as far as I know, he's not going anywhere just yet. I'm glad he's there, and I hope he realizes just how important he is to me.

I'll have to tell him when I get home today.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

John, I think you're writing your autobiography. I like it. It's a nice way to get to know you better and makes me grateful that you're sharing an important part of your life with me/us.