Lee is a drummer. Not only is he a drummer, he is a dang good drummer. He toured in the 80’s and 90’s with rock bands, had the wild, crazy hair, wore leather pants…the whole kit and caboodle. He was the opposite of his father, Norm, in many ways.
Norm grew up on a farm in the prairies where it was so cold in the winter, the chamber pot under the bed would freeze at night. He enlisted in the Navy during WWII and served on the HMCS Sudbury as the leading sick bay attendant. During that time, he met and courted Lee’s mom and got married. He became a Doctor of Optometry, raised a family and was a philanthropist and community leader. He went to bed early and rose at the crack of dawn. Norm was an accomplished yet humble man.
I wondered early on in my relationship with Lee if his rock and roll career challenged his dad in any way. He said he was sure it did. No matter how much Lee’s life didn't follow the career path his dad had hoped for him, he was always supported and encouraged, no strings attached.
In the past couple of months, we have had two deaths in the family and it’s during these times I tend to slow down and reflect on their lives, accomplishments, experiences and what it all means to me. As hard as it was to say farewell to my loved ones, it is with equanimity that I consider all the good they had in their lives and how they influenced and shared with us. That only brings a smile to my face and reminds me of how fortunate and blessed we are to have been the recipient of their love, support and companionship.
One of these individuals was my dear, sweet father-in-law.
I learned very quickly where Lee got his integrity from. Despite Lee’s rock and roll career, he never lost or forgot the heart of his dad’s influence and teachings. To this day, I have seen Lee’s caring and generous nature with so many who grace our lives. Norm and Lee are altruists and I love them both for this.
When I came into Lee’s life, his dad extended fully to me all that he had for his son. How blessed am I that this man was my father-in-law and that I was able to share time and love with him? Our weekly get-togethers are already missed terribly.
Lee’s dad came from a generation where your word meant something and you considered how your actions impacted others. He also came from an era where you actually courted someone and truly appreciated what you had because you grew up without. Going through all the family photos this past while really opened up his world, his passion and his ethos to me. There was such an abundance of material, I was able to put together story boards of his life and share it with all his loved ones at his memorial service. His passion for life and genuine appreciation for all he had reinforced with me what we embrace here at Doggonit. In fact, I daresay, Norm is one of the cornerstones for Doggonit.
We had the love and support of an incredible man. He was so excited and happy for us when we told him about our desire to open up Doggonit. I gave him weekly reports on our progress, our business plans and ideas. He loved being involved despite his great age of 90. Doggonit is just as much his baby as it is ours as we valued his input and wisdom every step of the way.
Norm may not be with us physically anymore but his spirit lives on here at Doggonit and in our hearts. I feel like one of the richest people in the world and I can only hope that I have the same altruistic heart he did. Big shoes to fill, indeed.
Since we opened, we have met so many wonderful people and just as many amazing dogs, each with their own personality. No two dogs are alike. They become like children to me and it always seems to be something for me to ponder; all the complexities of their personalities – each with their favourite spot to nap during down time, who likes to chase the ball, who likes to wrassle and with whom, and best places for a good scritch and scratch are. This one snores, that one grunts and the other one has so much to say, it’s as if she is actually talking to you in full sentences. I love them all and appreciate the opportunities we have here to connect with people, their dogs and be a part of their lives, no matter how small a part we are of it all.
We are in the thick of autumn now. I love each season for what it brings. The crisp air, foggy dusks and dawns, and vibrant foliage serve to remind me that even though it seems like all is dying or getting ready for hibernation, there is a promise of better things to come. Norm would want us to embrace that optimism too. He did not want us to mourn his passing but to hold firm all that life has to offer and enjoy everything to its fullest. With every dog that comes through our doors, we revel in their energy, spunk and waggishness.