A Letter to Dad for Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

I put together a little shrine made up of some of the old things that make me smile and help me feel closer to you in your absence.

Owens Specialty Services hat: Circa early nineteen eighties when you were running a small business in the evenings after you’d finish your job at the Saskatchewan Research Council. You spent many evenings in the shop welding and fabricating things like park benches, indoor and outdoor railings, and roll bars for your racing buddies. Your hard work allowed us, kids, what felt like a seamless economic time yet you were dealing with interest rates and an unemployment rate both in the double digits.

White Lotus Super 7: Your pride and joy, and favourite street stock sports race car. Sold in the early eighties for reasons obvious to me now. Thanks, but I wish you had been able to keep it.

Red modified Austin Mini: You kept your racing spirit alive by turning this car into an ice racing machine and managed to win the world championship in its class, in (I think) 1984. Your grandson’s favourite number is 88 (but he had to settle for #8 this past winter in his first year of hockey).

Willie Nelson tape: I’ve been listening to a lot of Willie since you passed. It always makes me tear up. It reminds me of sitting side by side on one of our many fishing and hunting trips, which made such an impression and ultimately directed my plight and values into adulthood. Sorry for all the complaining. I try to keep that dynamic in mind when I am out with my own boys and they are being less than enthusiastic. I’ll chalk it up to type 2 fun.

Empty Peppermint Schnapps bottle with 2 x $5 bills (80’s editions)stuffed inside: This was on a shelf in your shop for as long as I can remember. I recall it took a lot of self-control for me not to smash that bottle and free the ten bucks. Think of all the video games I could have played at the local corner store. I love how you moved this with you after selling the house. I’m not even sure of the significance for you but it reminds me of you, and your shop, and our time in the shop and you’ll be happy to know it is safe for a little while longer. We’ll see if my boys have the same restraint.

Old Fly Reel and a Photo of you and the boys on the Highwood River in 1978: 

Thank you for sharing your love of flyfishing, gravel roads, campfires with lifelong friends, virgin prairie landscapes, and the allure of the foothills of Alberta. Also, thank you for sharing your friends with me. I am lucky to be able to call many of your friends also friends of mine.

Buds on Broadway matchbook: Every Thursday night and often for the Saturday afternoon jam session for much of the 1990s. Somehow I was allowed to join far before I was legal and was exposed to great live music, a whole lot of blues subculture, and another set of your welcoming friend group, many of which became mentors and friends to this day.

German Wedding Speech: The speech you wrote and practiced in German that you recited, in spite of not knowing German, at Marion’s and my wedding. You always went above and beyond for your family. You were a go-to MC at many weddings and would never decline. 

Race Painting by Rolf Krohn: He passed this on to me after you left. Your spirit and love for racing cars certainly left an imprint. Together we hit on two of Hemingway’s true sports.

You could shoot the shit with absolutely anyone. You couldn’t handle elitism…but thank you for loving me in spite of my elitism (I think I’m doing better). Your friends and family all really loved you so much and we all miss having you around but are keeping your morals and fun-loving spirit going in the lives we are living in your absence. 

I often think of the final bit of advice you shared when I left home in 1997. “Don’t screw anyone over and don’t let anyone screw you”. I’m glad I have those words, that at the time seemed too simple, you remind me of who you were and how to live.

Love you,


Published by Rob Owens

Canadian. Father, Husband, Friend. Entrepreneur, IFMGA Mountain Guide. Alpinism, BCT, MTB, Flyfishing. Moments, Choices. Better with Age...

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