The Day of My Dad’s Memorial

by Patrick Connors

2 Cor 5: 1-9, 15-17

Fog rolled over 
the Douglas Fir lined hills
all the way to the St. John’s Regatta.

The Regatta was a day late this year
due to wind and rain which never came
and yet pushed back the Civic Holiday.

“Old Man” by Neil Young played
on the oldies station. I hope I’m not
too much like my old man was.

When Dad passed away,
we hadn’t had a real conversation
in over 10 years, or seen each other in fifteen.

Cousin David, Linda, and me took a pathway
through the Anglican cemetery to reach
the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake.

They shook hands and embraced everyone 
they knew and even those few they didn't.
It was their first live race in three years.

Perfect strangers nodded and smiled 
and said hello as they passed by. I let go
of the Toronto in me to return the greeting.

We walked by dozens of food trucks, and I 
was struck by three in a well-spaced U-shape
called Ziggy Peelgood’s Famous Fries.

David said, “You have to try Ziggy’s,
and there will be a lineup at lunchtime.
But anything worth having is worth the wait.”  

This was the first year that women rowed 
full course races. Women have always been 
strong enough to carry us, but it’s something. 

Our vantage point allowed us to see perhaps 
a quarter of the race, providing just enough 
opportunity to root for those falling behind.

In my memories of St. John’s in August, I 
usually wore a heavy sweater. But today,
my golf shirt was stuck to my skin.

During a lull between races, the wind began
to move like a blessing, and Linda said,
“I think we might have a bit of rain.”

I prayed for rain, rain to make the forest fire
go out, rain to clean the foul sweat off me,
rain to prepare for whatever comes next.

At 4:00, David turned left off Topsail Road
into Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, to visit Dad’s 
ashes interred above the patriarchal plot.

Dad was the youngest of twelve. 
Some of the cousins joined to pay tribute.
Along with Linda, David, and me,

there were Brian and Evangeline
Gerry and Geraldine, and I will
always be grateful for their support.

I read parts of 2nd Corinthians
Chapter 5, and said Amen, and after a 
moment of silence, we went and had a time.   

I got to Newfoundland 
too late to make peace with my Dad.
But, I am finally at peace with myself.

Patrick Connors’ first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was released by LyricalMyrical Press in 2013, and charted on the Toronto Poetry Map. Other publication credits include: The Toronto Quarterly, Spadina Literary Review, Sharing Spaces, Tamaracks, and Tending the Fire.His first full collection, The Other Life, was released in 2021 by Mosaic Press.

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