It has been one month today since the passing of my father and it has been a really hard time for me and my family (not to mention so many friends and my family’s community). I find myself today sitting in the sun on the patio of a beautiful café in Chicago, Illinois feeling remarkably still and reflective. 31 days ago I arrived in Vancouver in time to say good bye to my dad (I am not sure if he heard me or not), and after he passed, I did what I do best; I made a list of things that needed to be done and got to work. It kept me busy and allowed me to make sense of something was so baffling so hard to comprehend. One of the jobs I took on was to put together a slide show of photographs for the memorial.
I always knew I had wonderful parents, but it was not until I looked at 64 years of photographs that I realized how ahead of his time my dad was. There were photos of my dad wearing each of us in the very tacky 1970’s brown corduroy carrier that saw 1000s of miles and many years of wear. It was just regular. It was an interesting discovery for me after so much noise-making went into the recent “Are you Mom enough” Time Magazine cover article. My parents never did anything to prove how good they were as parents, they just did it because it felt right and it was best for us.
My parents tackled the Ministry of Health on several issues like birthing us at home (at a time when to do so was illegal) and skipping vaccines and fluoride treatments. After that battle they took on the Education Ministry when they pulled us out of school and opted to homeschool us through the 1980’s and early 90’s. My parents practiced bed sharing and the true definition of attachment parenting versus the helicopter co-dependency we see with moms/parents and their babies/children today.
Instead of going to church, every Sunday (rain or shine – and in Vancouver, it was mostly rain) my parents would round the four kids up and we would hike one of the paths in Golden Ears Provincial Park. It was magical. In hindsight I realize what an important ritual it was for my family.
In the summer we would be loaded up in the big blue 12 seater Dodge Van and would spend the better part of a week or two watching the Provinces and States fly by out the window while listening to cassettes of The Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen. If we were lucky, we were allowed to stand on the cooler between the front seats and stick our head out the sun roof while my dad would ramble on the CB radio (God bless the 80’s).
I learned many interesting and wonderful skills from my dad:
…to ride a motorcycle by the time I was 8, shoot any gun with amazing accuracy, understanding of the combustion engine, historical understanding of the history of World War I and II, to use forensic pathology to solve a homicide based on real crime photos, to understand maps, to slalom water ski, to solve complicated logic problems in my head, and the gift of loving to learn to name a few.
My parents made sure that we never went without, that we were never judged for our choices, that the stresses of work and life never seeped into their time with us, that we explored and tried everything, that we were active in our community, that we loved and respected one another, and that we knew we were true gifts to them both.
My dad, Thomas Eaton Sprague, was one of the most amazing men I have even met and he was a wonderful father, husband, brother, son, lawyer, and friend. Words do not describe how painful his passing is. To be honest, I cannot even process it and still reference him as if he was alive when speaking with my friends. I am still not yet prepared to let in the true depth of my loss. I want to thank everyone for all their help, love, support and kind words this month. Special thanks to the amazing bebo mia executive team for picking up all my pieces this month!
I think my mom said it best in her tribute to my dad:
At his core, Thom believed that the true measure of a man’s character lies in how well he treats his family, his friends and the people he works with. He believed aman should work hard and take care of those he loves and is responsible for. He believed that a good man showed up when asked and helped out when needed.Thom valued reliability in others more than anything and aspired to consistently exhibit the same throughout his whole life. It simply broke his heart when hebelieved he hurt or disappointed me, his family, his friends or his clients.
Thom made no apologies for his belief of what a man’s responsibility in the world is – be strong, work hard, take care of your people and your home – period.He was fiercely proud of his role as a father and cherished the whole concept of fatherhood. He loved his children with all of his being, and he never once believed that their care was more my responsibility than his own. In truth, Thom loved all kids: especially babies. And how they loved him, for a wide variety of reasons, but mostly because he listened to them, told them stories and taught them things he knew they would love to know.
He would tell you men, young and old, that you have no other purpose on earth than to love and take care of your people. Respect them, be gentle and kind to them, work very hard and do your absolute best for them. I believe he would also tell you to make sure you take care of yourself. Eat well and often, stay fit and healthy, have hobbies that spark your passions and interests that ignite your imagination. And he would counsel you to share your burdens – to not bear themalone, hold them in or believe they would be a burden to your loved ones if made apparent. You are not weaker in their eyes or less esteemed for doing so. On the contrary, you are vital and worthy of their care.
Love you always dad,
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