Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father’s Day – Douglas Sinclair Kay

When I was 2 yrs. old, my mother married my Aunt Helen’s brother, Douglas Sinclair Kay. My mom first met my step-dad when she was still married to my father, Allan Farrell. My father’s brother, Forbes and his wife Helen Kay lived on a neighbouring farm in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. Doug (as he was always known) lived in Montreal and worked for Canadian Pacific Railway, working on the cross-country train. He would get off the train at Indian Head and go and visit his sister and her family. He became very good friends with my mom and dad. When my father passed away in 1962, it seemed inevitable that my mom and Doug would get married. They were married on December 21, 1963 and after a couple of days honeymoon, we all boarded a train for Montreal.

Douglas Sinclair Kay was born on October 31, 1927 in Lachine, Quebec to Adam Sinclair Kay and Clarice Salmon, the younger of two children. When he was 8 years old the family moved to the South Shore of Montreal, to St. Lambert.

While growing up, Doug was very active with the local sports clubs as well as Scouting, becoming a Scout Master for the St. Lambert Storer Troop. In 1957, he played hooky from work and took his troop to the Jubilee Jamboree in England. After he married my mom, he gave up scouting. He would say that 3 little girls were much harder to handle than 35 boys! Even after he gave up his scouting, he still kept in touch with “his boys”, many of who invited him to their weddings. One of his boys even named a son after him.

Although Doug never legally adopted my sisters and I, he always considered us as his own. Because I was so young when he married my mom, to this day he is my daddy.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but we never wanted for anything. If he could afford it, we usually got what we wanted, and he always paid in cash. Nothing was put on credit. He always said that if you don’t have the cash for something, then you can’t afford it and you really don’t need it – something I still follow today. He was never burdened with a mortgage because he had been saving for many years to buy a house (plus he got a really sweet deal on a house when the previous owner died!). We lived in that same house until I graduated from High School, when he sold the house and bought a duplex.

Because he was always careful with his money (but by all means not stingy), he was able to finally take my mom on a long overdue honeymoon back to Scotland in 1970. Three years later we all went to Scotland. My middle sister, Heather, was going with her school on an exchange so he decided we should all go (I even got to miss a month of school).

When I started school, I was enrolled in the newly established French Immersion program. Because my step-dad grew up in Quebec, he already knew French (albeit street French) so we would always have these secret conversations together, which would drive my mom and sisters crazy because they couldn’t understand us!

Having three girls to raise, you could say that my-step dad was a little over protective. Although he never spanked us (and believe me, we deserved it sometimes), just one look from him and we knew we were in trouble. When I was about 15 yrs old, I asked him what he would do if one of us came home pregnant (I think I was trying to see how far I could push him). He would say, “you’d see the fastest shot gun wedding you ever saw”! Needless to say, when at 18 yrs old I did come home pregnant, I was petrified to tell him. Well, there were no shut guns and thankfully no wedding! He told me that if I didn’t want to keep the child, he would adopt it. This child was a part of his family and was not going anywhere else! When the time came for my daughter to be born, he was the one that was with me in the delivery room. After she was born, he would do everything a father would have done, from feeding her, to changing her and taking her for walks. The two of them were inseparable. And when I went back to school, I had the best babysitter.

My daughter and I lived with my mom and step-dad until my daughter was about 7 yrs. old, when I could finally afford to get a place of our own, even if it was in the upper part of the duplex.

When my step-dad was 58 yrs. he was diagnosed with a severe case of Parkinson’s disease causing him to take an early retirement. The next 3 years were extremely hard as the disease got worse. He was a big man, standing 6’4” and 250 lbs., and was always in the best of health, so it was heartbreaking to see this disease take from him what it did. His Parkinson’s had progressed very quickly, even quicker than the doctors had anticipated, and within 3 years of being diagnosed he passed away in 1989 at the age of 61.

Although Douglas Sinclair Kay was not my father, he was and always will be my Dad. Happy Father’s Day daddy – we miss you.

Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a DADDY!

1 comment:

  1. This is such a touching tribute; you really brought this wonderful man alive on the page.