On Your Father's Side  

A father's lament

When I took my oldest daughter’s hand and walked upstairs, time suddenly came rushing up behind me in one furious stroke.

I’d walked the stairs at my uncle Rob’s place in Saskatoon hundreds of times: for Christmases, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, christenings and funerals.

Sixteen years ago, I’d been there acting as godfather for Rob’s youngest daughter, my cousin Hannah. (That’s godfather in the biblical sense; I wasn’t there to place any horse heads in anyone’s bed, although I’m not afraid to be her enforcer...)

If you had told me then I’d eventually be father to three girls, I’d have probably laughed myself unconscious.

It’s not that I didn’t want kids, but I certainly wasn’t on any path that seemed destined to produce a family.
But there we all were on the weekend, back in my hometown to watch Rob’s oldest daughter, Rebecca, get married.

It was as if I were standing in the middle of a vortex, half a life behind me and half ahead of me.

How long before I’m not just holding my six-year-old daughter’s hand, but walking her down the aisle?

Having children does weird and wonderful things to your brain, but twisting your sense of time must be the most unsettling.

It was obvious during a drive through my old neighbourhood.

We drove past my grandparent’s wartime house on Elm Street, St. Frances School and half a dozen other faceless, nameless landmarks that mean more to me than I’d care to admit.

I’m genuinely disappointed the Exhibition started the day after we left town, because to know me as a child is to know the Saskatoon Ex.

Of course, I’d done that sightseeing tour countless times since we moved from Saskatoon to Ottawa in 1986, but showing my kids gave it new meaning.

My wife compares that feeling to seeing ghosts. She asked me if I could see myself, walking a street or riding a bike.

It’s certainly close to that, but it more feels like I’ve suddenly occupied another person’s body.

I have their memories, but it wasn’t me all those years ago riding my bike to the playground or walking home from school for lunch.

These are elusive memories. They are shadows or whispers.

Perhaps it’s because life today is visceral:

  • children
  • mortgages
  • retirement
  • college funds
  • and, most recently, writing a will.

Everything we experience today comes with its very own punch to the gut whereas our idyllic childhood homes cushion and cajole us forward.

But hazy childhood memories are wondrously clear compared to what you see on the other side of the vortex:

  • nothing.

Looking forward through time is, of course, impossible. 

My future could easily include a new job in a new city as it could retiring in Kelowna.

I could drop dead in five years from a massive heart attack, or I could wither away surrounded by friends, family and adoring fans at the ripe old age of 101 (I’ll choose the latter just in case the spirits are reading).

In 16 more years, will my children be leaving home? Will marriage still be a “thing?” (Maybe weddings at city hall and dinner at Wendy’s will be popular).

My head spins at the very thought of it all.

I would never have guessed my god-daughter would have graduated high school at 16 and be contemplating a path to medical school.

It’s that kind of thinking that scares me as a father: I just hope my kids are healthy and happy. 

I don’t want to jinx anything by wishing them a career as a pro golfer or as CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Heck, my chest is getting tight just writing about it.

Damn it, the spirits aren’t reading.

Well, at least if I go now, the girls can use the life insurance money to buy the best damn wedding reception Wendy’s can supply.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More On Your Father's Side articles

About the Author

David Trifunov is a proud father, humble author and recovering journalist.

Trifunov and his wife, Erin, are raising three little girls in Kelowna and enjoying every second of the trials, triumphs and tribulations.

As a humble author, he has written three middle-grade books for publisher Formac-Lorimer.

To pay the bills so he can raise those kids and write those books, Trifunov is a journalist with 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor.

His parenting column will appear regularly. davidtrifunov.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories