of a Good Man
Father's Day Tribute
by Austin Repath
I’m of an age that I can look
back with some perspective
on my father. At one time I saw him as someone who was never
for his son, an absent father. And that is what he was. It
the Depression, and he worked twelve hours a day, six days a week in a
disreputable tavern in the west end of Toronto. Of
being that he was working from noon until midnight,
got to see him, let alone get to know him.
was a time I resented the fact that he wasn’t there for me.
And the few
times that he was, he never hugged me or talked with me. He
about such things. A poor excuse for a father, I told my
and he agreed with me.
dawned on me until years later that we were poor, and it was the only
he could get if he wanted to keep a roof over our heads, that he was
tired and preoccupied to be the good father I had demanded he be.
But now I
am older and wiser, and realize what he did give me and what a good man
he really was. I remember my older sisters saying how they
to marry a man like my father. I remember going over to the
Hotel were my dad “slung beer,” and one woman
telling me what a wonderful
man my father was. “He gives respect to every woman
no matter what
kind she is, and he never swears,” she informed me.
I realize now
how much of this he passed on to me, not in words, but simply in the
of who he was. I have been in a wonderful marriage for years,
and in love with my wife, just like my dad was with my
can see now that this respect and love for women is the biggest and
gift my father gave me.
And in fairness,
I think I might have been a bit of a disappointment as a son.
father, a baseball fan, gave up taking me to ball games when, after
myself with hotdogs, I wanted to go home. “What a dumb
game!” is what I
remember saying to him. I guess now I can forgive him for
out to watch me play high school football.
In truth I
was my mother’s son, and my dad didn’t quite know
what to do with me,
but to his credit,
he did find a way. When I was in my late teens, getting ready
go to university, my dad took a week off. It was the summer I
get a job and was desperate to find some way to earn my university
It was in late August, and my dad dragged me off to the race
I couldn’t imagine anything more boring, but he showed me how
to read the
Racing Form, what to look for in a winner how to bet the daily double,
how to bet for place and show. By end of the week I had made
A few years earlier my mother had taught me how to dance, a skill that
helped immensely as I struggled through my teens. That summer, my
taught me how to gamble: knowing when to take a risk, when to cut
losses, never to renege on a bet and never ever bet the milk
A skill that has proved useful throughout my life in ways I’m
sure he never
He was a man who kept his word and could be trusted. This I came to
when I talked with some of the habitues whom I’d meet when I
to see my dad at work. They use to tell me that he never
against them, never fought with them, would even lend them a few bucks
if they were really down on their luck. They respected his honesty and
directness, and because of him I was given a certain position of
I was always introduced as Ernie’s boy. That carried a
And I was proud to be his son.
Of course as I grew older I saw him as inept and old fashioned,
and clumsy. Yet now when I look in the mirror, or more often, when I
myself laugh or greet a stranger on the street, I realize that I have
my dad. It is something I feel good about. In his way, he showed me how
to be a good man. What more could a boy ask of his father?
You might enjoy reading Things
My Mother Taught
Me, a look at my mother's side
of life. To contact the author, please email: