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Remembering Dad

It was beautiful and now it's cloudy at the farmette. My Dad's funeral was yesterday, so even though it's Mother's Day, I thought I'd excerpt the eulogy I wrote (with LOTS of help from the siblings) and my sister Sandra delivered for him:

Anyone will tell you that Harold Harris – Dad to five of us – was not the most talkative guy on the planet.

Dad preferred to quietly go about his business – his main occupations were his work and family – with music, sports and a bit of euchre thrown in for good measure.

He was much more a man of action than words – showing his compassion rather than chatting about it.

One time, he and I played veterinarian on one of the many cats we had over the years. It was a tortoiseshell who got her hind leg caught in the fanbelt of one of the many cars we had over the years.

He re-set the bone and I assisted with popsicle sticks and couple of rags. I don’t think he held out much hope for the poor thing. But there was a little nine-year-old girl who was quite determined to try and fix it – so he was determined too.

Happily, the cat not only survived, she had another litter after the accident.

Just like every other red-blooded Canadian, Dad was a hard-core hockey fan. Played the game himself in the early years, and when the boys came along, he took them to the rink at all hours for practices and games.

Later, after Lois and I were on the scene, Saturday night was the church of hockey – Dad in the recliner, Bob and Dan on the floor with huge bowl of popcorn and Mom and the girls curled up on the couch in our flannels after the weekly bath.

Dad worked hard. All the time. Forty-plus years at Roy Inch and Sons in St. Thomas as an appliance repair man.

He was a master at his craft and, to be honest, none of us really knew how he was able to diagnose and repair almost any kind of machine. What we did know, though, was that his work day often didn’t end after his time in St. Thomas.

Everyone knew that Harold could fix things. And Harold was always happy to oblige. Fridges, stoves, freezers, air conditioners – you name it, Dad could make it run again. He’d go out on ‘calls’ after hours, charging much less than he could, or probably should have. Even after he retired, Barb says that people would leave appliances at the end of the driveway in Dutton with a note saying – ‘just whenever you get the time…’

The Harris family was never very wealthy – but we knew how to have fun. Dad, being the handy man, made a tent trailer out of plywood and a Canadian Tire special canvas tent– and boy did we camp. That thing went into numerous provincial parks down through the years. It even went right across the country behind out 1968 Ford LTD two-door hard-top.

Dad loved a good game – or several – of cards. In the country, there used to be community euchre parties on a Tuesday or Thursday night where the high prize was a bag of sugar and the low prize was a potato peeler. Of course, it was mostly about the company and camaraderie of friends and neighbours.

I think company was also why Dad took up the fiddle. That, and a real love of music. Ned Landry and Don Messer were his heroes. The Jubilee was another weekend television staple in the Harris household.

He, along with Mom on the piano, Glen Williams on the guitar and Mrs. Small on another fiddle made up a little band that would entertain in senior’s centres in local communities...

For 88 years, Harold was a man of few words but even in his last days always enjoyed a good joke, a laugh and even sang in the hallways on his way to breakfast. He was even named Happy Harold by his main caregiver Jeff at Elgin Manor.

I would like to thank the folks at the Elgin Manor, and most importantly brother Dan and sister Barb for all they did for him in the last few years of his very full life. For taking him to appointments, and being there for well pretty much everything he needed and for keeping us girls up to date on the latest.

Even though he did not say it, we know he loved us all very much and he did a pretty fine job of raising us together with Mom. Look at the fantastic job he did with his five children, 11 grandchildren and 8 1/2 great grandchildren!

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