The Little Things
By Jason Marshall
I’m a big believer that all things happen for a reason. I truly am.
No matter how unfair or painful something seems, my view is that it was meant to be. I may not fully comprehend why it happened, but it’s all part of the universe’s master plan.
Maybe it’s an age thing. The older I get, the more I look at life through a philosophical eye.
Today my eye spotted two words on my calendar. They took me back to June of 1988, in the card aisle at the drug store. I couldn’t tell you what the picture was on the front. Or the verse inside. But I can tell you with certainty I knew it would be the last Father’s Day card I’d ever buy.
Two months later—almost to the day—my dad died of lung cancer.
I was 17. Life is complicated enough at that age. But this was a life changer.
I’ve thought of him every day since. Spoken to him. Asked for his advice. And just plain wished he was still here.
He’d given a lot to this world and I know he had a lot more to give. He just didn’t get the opportunity.
I know this because he was only 52. The same age I am today. And I’m not done giving.
Barry Marshall was a husband, father and grandpa. A son. Brother. Uncle. And friend.
He was a mentor. A rock. And provider.
I never had the chance to fully appreciate him as a dad as I navigated life. Or get to know him as a man. Or friend. And he never got to meet my son. Those are some of my only regrets in life.
My dad was a carpenter by trade, but had also been a mechanic. There wasn’t a job he couldn’t do with his hands.
He always measured twice and cut once. And if he measured twice and still cut it the wrong size, I usually learned a new word or two. To this day I never trust a person who doesn’t swear.
Dad loved to hunt. And fish. He taught his kids how to do both, and he reveled in knowing they loved and respected the outdoors as much as he did.
He took pride in his work. And his family. Just ask anyone who crossed a line when it came to either. Especially family.
He had a temper. But also enjoyed a good laugh. He loved his beer. And listening to country and western albums on the hi-fi. I can’t hear Don Williams sing Amanda today without thinking of my dad.
Dad had strong, calloused hands from swinging a hammer for so many years. But those big, thick hands could pick you up in the gentlest way when you fell off your bike.
He taught me to skate. Throw a fastball. Shoot a gun. Set a hook. And the importance of taking pride in everything you do. No sense in doing something if you don’t do it to the best of your ability.
I also got my height—or lack thereof—from him. But he showed me that it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of fight in the dog.
I can also thank him for my sense of humour. My low tolerance for BS. And my steadfast rule of pie over cake every time.
And even until his final breath, he showed us all how to live—and die—with pride, dignity, love, and respect. And to never lose sight of what’s truly important in life. That being your family and friends.
You know what? He sounds a lot like me. Or I guess I’m like him. I learned from what he did, and how he did it. At the time I didn’t realize it.
What could he possibly teach me? I was 17. And when you’re 17 you know everything.
I’m 52 now, and here’s some advice: don’t forget your dad this Father’s Day. However you do it, let him know he’s loved and appreciated. It’s only a little gesture, but it’s the little things in life that make all the difference.
Jason Marshall has been a writer and journalist for more than 30 years and is an on-air host and station manager at Valley Heritage Radio just outside of Renfrew, Ontario. And he’s truly a big kid at heart. You can email him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org