AT RANDOM: Learning from the best

There is not enough space in this column to declare the love I had for my father.

There is not enough space in this column to declare the love I had for my father.

My dad, Bill, was the greatest.

The son of a Canadian military boxing champ, and a boxing champion himself, Bill was determined to teach me the Sweet Science. That was evident after I received not one, but two sets of boxing gloves as a Christmas present.

In the basement of our small family home, which is now where Okanagan Spring Brewery is, Bill laced up my gloves, then his, and proceeded to give me boxing lessons. One of the most important was to keep my gloves up near my face.

I then got an up close, personal look at a Bill right-hand jab to my nose, which resulted in a bleeding nose and loud tears from me, which then resulted in my mom, Florrie, bounding down the stairs to see what had happened.

“He didn’t keep his gloves up,” explained Bill as Florrie gave him a death stare while she tended to my bloody nose. Dad felt so bad that he took me to the Tastee Freez for an ice cream cone.

There were times Bill would get home from a hard day of loading and unloading fruits and vegetables from the local growers at the B.C. Fruit Shippers warehouse, where he worked, and would just be sitting down for a hot meal, cooked by Florrie, when the phone would ring.

“Dad, the umpire didn’t show up for our baseball game. Can you come and umpire?” I asked. I don’t ever recall him saying no.

Speaking of B.C. Fruit Shippers, dad would often let me come to work with him. He installed a basketball hoop there for me, and, on hot summer days, he’d let my friends and I play road hockey in one of the empty cold storage warehouses. He’d let me lay flat on the pallets, then pick up the pallets with the forklift and raise them as high off the ground as the forklift would allow.

He also paid me to stamp the date on the packages of green and red peppers, or other fruits and vegetables, then watch as I’d rush off with my newfound riches to the Tastee Freez.

Dad was great at practical jokes. He came bursting into the house one time screaming at the top of his lungs.

“GET OUT HERE RIGHT NOW,” he bellowed at me, and I had no idea what I had done.

Dad was in the midst of building a shed attached to the house. “You said you wanted to do some painting, well now’s your chance,” he said as he watched his youngest turn into a basic puddle of goo in front of his eyes, then he burst into laughter, knowing he’d scared the crap out of me.

Oh, and remember the pallet story from a few paragraphs back? One time, he got off the fork lift and went and had a smoke, leaving me suspended in the air with no way down. I think they heard my screams at Polson Park.

Bill died when I was just 12, and for years and years, I was angry at my two older brothers and older sister, angry that they got to spend way more time with my dad than I did, and I felt cheated.

Counselling helped me get over that. It wasn’t their fault.

On Oct. 30, 1999, I became a father and it remains the greatest moment of my life. That won’t ever change. I am sorry that my boy, Sam, never got to meet Grandpa Bill but I tell him the stories.

My own son is 12 now, and I’ve used a lot of what Bill showed me in 12 years on him, including telling him to keep his gloves up.

I don’t need a gift on Father’s Day Sunday. I already got the best ones: a great son and a great role model for which to raise him.

—Roger Knox is a reporter for The Morning Star


Vernon Morning Star

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