Sunday, November 12, 2017

My Heros

I find it offensive to denominate anyone a hero. Acknowledging their talent is judicious without approaching the cheek to comment on their furnishings. The example set by matchless people is worth emulation but not fawning. From what I know of paragons they perform well without oleaginous additives.

On the other hand if I were asked to list those who have left upon me an indelible mark I am far less hesitant.  Actually I should back up on that one.  Upon a moment's reflection I realize that I am hopelessly reluctant to confess admiration for those who most deserve it.  My parents for example, it has taken me six decades to confess their achievement. In fact for most of my life I considered that I was their shining achievement!  And while there may be some foundation for that observation, it doesn't however diminish their own starring performances.  What rings true about them with me is that they survived themselves and their creations, which is pretty much the best one can say about anyone.  They endured.  It matters not whether they had the pleasure of distinctions and public recognition along the way, they just kept going whatever the circumstances.  I doubt I would feel any differently about them if for example they had divorced one another; or even if one of them had died at a young age. The measure of their success is that, given what life handed them, they carried on.

As far as I know my father died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of April 8, 2014.  Only a day or two earlier I had visited him at the Perley Veterans' Hospital where I sat on the window ledge at the foot of his bed and abstractly gabbed with him.  Purposively I wasn't intent on making things easy for him notwithstanding his obvious declension. He and I were never what one would readily characterize as close. The closest I ever came to him - at least physically - was a handshake at Christmas.  Other than that it was pretty much standoffishness. A hug was completely out of the question! Thankfully I cannot recall ever having indulged such intimacy with him, it just would not have worked for either of us.  On the other hand whenever he dropped into my law office to send a "telex" to his financial advisor in Toronto, I never hesitated to invite him for lunch at my house where I happily prepared him a soup and sandwich.  We didn't share much of anything else, certainly not golf, hunting or fishing.  Once he tried to commandeer half of my garage for the storage of one of his junk cars but I abruptly resisted that move.  We preserved our independence to the end.  Even on what turned out to be his death bed I made no particular effort to expand upon the depth of our relationship; in fact to the bitter end I was determined to let him know he was getting away with nothing.

My mother and I have enjoyed a more ostensibly favourable relationship though it has only been since my father died that the dynamics have advanced appreciably.  What more than anything has prompted the improvement of my relationship with my mother is the mere necessity of looking after her and her affairs. It is part of my innate constitution that I like problem-solving and, perhaps encouraged by the focus of my erstwhile law practice, the matter of succession and the perpetuation of wealth from one generation to another is not entirely lost on me.  Immediately upon my father's death the assets of my parents were consolidated into an inter vivos trust of which my mother is the sole beneficiary and my sister and I are the trustees. The day-to-day management of the trust is handled by a fee-based financial advisor. The over-riding disposition of my mother's estate is confined to the terms of her last Will and Testament which was drawn many years ago and has never changed.  In the result the daily care of my mother's needs are largely directed to domestic matters only.  Initially there were heavy responsibilities connected with the liquidation of real estate and personal assets and completing the transition to a retirement home. We have since settled all affairs including apartment, telephone, cable, housekeeping, bathing, laundry, dental and foot care and hairdressing.  Extraordinary attendances such as cortisone shots and occasional visits to the hospital are handled on an ad hoc basis by my sister, me and my eldest niece. As often as possible I visit my mother, mostly just to ensure she is Okay, also to take her out in her wheelchair to a local pub for a pint or a chat in the nearby garden overlooking the Rideau Canal. The scope of her conversation borders on repetitious but at 91 years of age I figure she is entitled to talk about whatever is pressing for her.  Her preoccupations include such things as the balance of her chequing and savings accounts (she seldom seems interested in the capital of her investments except to reaffirm that they reflect much the same portfolio as she and my father nurtured for years, things like Canadian Pacific Railway and Encana), birthdays of her grandchildren, income tax and whether she has enough facial foundation and Ensure. I have adopted with her a strict posture similar to that which I employed when directing my clients. We have past the time for debate in the management of her affairs though she is surprisingly resilient in making her professed demands heard. The synthesis of all these changes in focus and paramountcy has been a dove-tailing of our mutual concerns. It is in many ways the natural evolution of parent and child.  Now my mother can say instead, "Moi, je suis le centre du monde!"  The revolutions of the parties have altered though we're still within the same orbit.

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