I went to the Canada Day fireworks display, in Delhi Park, last night.
I lay out on the lawn on what turned out to be a beautiful summer evening despite the earlier threat of rain. I was near the top of the hill, midst the crowds on their blankets, looking across at the empty hills in the cemetery; no one was taking advantage of its open spaces, which offered a perfect view of the display.
Delhi is the largest park in Picton. It’s built on an old landfill, next to a cemetery and beside a sewage treatment plant. I would’ve loved to have been at that town-planning meeting.
New friends surrounded me, one who I met in the café a while back; the rest I had just met that night. We oooo’ed and ahhhh’ed at the colours as we watched them explode in the sky and cascade down like angels wings while sparkling like cherubs eyes.
As I watched I couldn’t stop my mind from drifting back to the last time I saw the fireworks in Delhi—but I wasn’t in Delhi then.
My dad has been gone six years today. Which makes it six years ago last night that I watched the fireworks from his hospital room window.
My sister, Trish, had arrived from England just hours before, with my brother, Mike, his wife, Charlette, my nephews, Ryan and Mitchell, and my niece, Allison, who had come in from British Columbia. Their planes had landed at the same time in Toronto and they drove down together.
Jordann, who was my wife at the time, and I had been in the hospital for about 36 hours by then, my mom for longer than that.
Charlette and Jordann had taken the kids down to Delhi to see the fireworks. Maybe they had sat on that same piece of lawn, near the top of the hill across from the cemetery.
Watching my father die, feeling the rock beneath my feet crumble away while I was still standing on it, and having fireworks explode in celebration of my country's birthday right outside the window; reality too intense becomes a surreal experience, like you’re floating above watching it unfold, powerless to intervene no matter how desperately you want to.
I remember wishing that I was in the in the park with Jordy, Char and the kids, while at the same time wishing that Jordy was back in the hospital room with me. I didn’t want to leave Dad’s side but I didn't want to be there. I didn't want him to be there.
I think Dad would have liked the fireworks, he was too drugged to be able to see them, but he always liked a celebration of any sort and he would have wanted something to remind us that not only will life go on, but that it was for others, at that very moment—even as his was coming to an end. He also would have appreciated the distraction; he never liked being the centre of attention; though his stories and personality would often put him there. But he took the role only to be hospitable and for the sake of the story. He loved a good story, or a good joke, and boy could he tell them. Stories and jokes are among the few things in life worth collecting. Like any friendship, the good ones never rust through or wear out. And like a good piece of music, stories can be eternal; something to be shared and handed down from generation to generation.
At the end of the display I felt tired. But, I got up, brushed myself off, said my good-byes and pleased to met you’s and headed to the pub to meet up with another group of friends, old and new, to exchanged some jokes and stories and maybe, if I was lucky, get a few new ones.
I think Dad would have approved.
Copyright © Colin Frizzell 2009. All rights reserved.