I remember back in elementary school, we had to write about our hero. Everyone wrote about abstract concepts of people like celebrities or firemen, but I couldn’t think of anyone to write about except my dad. I think he was a bit taken aback since up until that point there had been a space between us. By the time I wrote about him being my hero, the majority of my memories with my dad were of spending time with him during visitation periods while he was in prison. Due to my age at the time, I didn’t fully have an understanding of the severity of someone being in jail; nor did I care. All that mattered to me was that I got to spend time with my dad. My mom had told me that he was in jail due to being in a fight, which I accepted and didn’t think or ask anything more of. It didn’t matter to me what he did or why he did it, not that I would’ve understood. My dad being incarcerated meant that I hadn’t had a “proper” father-son relationship as a child. When I wrote about him being my hero, it may have come off a bit strange that a child who barely knew his father would place so much weight on their relationship. Following my dad’s release from prison, he and I went through countless other difficult experiences throughout my adolescence. Despite these tough moments, I continued to look up to my dad. I was always in awe of his resilience despite the difficult life he had been given; a life he never asked for nor deserved, but one that he has somehow continued to fight through.
Before my dad can remember, his own father went missing while on a boat trip near Brooks Peninsula, British Columbia. This was only the beginning of my dad’s storied life; one that should be recorded in greater detail than I have the opportunity to document here. I believe that never knowing his father gave my dad the drive to do his best at being a father himself, even if it was often at odds with his own struggles. I remember him telling me that when he originally ended up in prison, he was of the mind that since he committed the crime, he was prepared to live out the full duration of his sentence, before one day realizing that he felt it imperative to work at being granted an early release in order to be more present in my life. It’s decisions and experiences like this that have always made me know my dad as a man that had everything stacked against him, yet did everything he could to be better. I recognize now that simply holding the title of being my dad does not make him infallible as I thought he was when I was young, but now, just like that little boy back in elementary school did, I don’t really care, because he’s still my hero.