The Greatest Man
He was the greatest man I ever knew. He’s been gone for 21 years; he’s been out of my life for longer than he was in it. My father. Today was the anniversary of his passing. He committed suicide 21 short years ago, on February 6, 1992. He was 44.
It still doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m still reeling at the injustice of it all. I was away at University, when I got the call. I’ll never forget it; I’ll remember it like it was yesterday, for probably my entire life. I hope, one day, that I’ll forget. I doubt I will. I doubt I ever will.
I remember the phone call. It was from a Captain from the Regina Police Force. He asked if I was going to be home, and if he could come by. Yes, of course. I was so naïve, I was so young, I thought he was coming to arrest me for a speeding ticket I hadn’t paid. I had no idea. I truly didn’t. Then, I got the call from my mom.
I remember panicking, answering the phone. I remember frantically telling my mom that I couldn’t talk, that the police were on their way over. Then my mother said it, she said those four words that broke my heart, “Your father is dead.” That was the exact moment in time that my heart broke. It broke, into pieces that took years to tape themselves back up. Some of the pieces are still missing.
I remember throwing the phone on the counter of the kitchen and walking away; I remember in the corner of my eye my boyfriend running for the phone, talking and hanging up to run to me. I remember the door buzzing and letting up the Police Captain. I remember this man standing there, and simply saying, “I see you’ve received the news.” It was at that moment, that I realized he wasn’t there to arrest me, and I wept. To this day, I still smile amongst the tears, when I think of that poor white dress shirt of his, that poor white dress shirt with mascara staining it.
I did things that day that only grief can cause you to do. I had to get home. I was wearing pajama bottoms and a t-shirt; I threw on a summer jacket and I was out the door. I was going home. I could drive there; my boyfriend at the time could drive; I could hitch-hike. It didn’t matter. I was going home. It was also minus 40 in Saskatchewan. I was not dressed appropriately. I didn’t feel it. I had to get home.
I remember driving for six hours, and seeing the scene, as it was. I remember that moment I changed. I remember growing up. I instantly became an adult. It became real. Grief makes you do incredible things. It probably explains why I became a safety officer.
There is a stigma to suicide. You can’t talk about it. It’s hidden, deep and dark; it’s the over-whelming secret that the survivor’s hide from the world. Instead of being able to share, instead I/we feel guilt over what happened. Instead of being able to share, instead of being able to connect with other survivor’s, instead – all I want to do is bury the secret so that people don’t think poorly of me.
I know that I told him every chance I could that I loved him, I know he returned that every chance he could in return. I remember his actions. I remember the love of horses he instilled in me. I remember how he taught me to always do the right thing, regardless of who was watching. I remember the morals, ethics and values he drilled into me. I remember. I remember him. I mourn what he missed. What he missed, by his choice.
He was the greatest man I ever knew. He also went through unspeakable things that best remain unspoken. However, he missed his daughters – he had three of us – getting married. He missed his grandchildren; he had four boys and two girls – one set of indomitable twins. He missed on so much. He missed out on a lifetime of love.
There has been change, since my father. There are no longer as many of the judgmental views. There has been a focus more on compassion, verses judgment. Compassion, verses judging.
I want to stand up to suicide. This is my first step.
I miss you dad. Every day.