Happy Father's Day.
Artwork by iejvxr
Articulation is not his strong suit but I can always tell what he’s feeling and thinking.
He tries to go about his life silently, quietly, with the least amount of disruption as possible. He wakes up before anyone else, he works long hard hours, he comes home.
He contributes, he pays his taxes; he is the least offensive person I know… except that one time he rolled down the drivers side window of the car stuck out his middle finger and yelled “ASSHOLE” at some asshole who deserved it. That was awesome.
I inherited many things from him. His height, of course. His sponge like memory for useless information. His daily need for peanut butter. His left handedness. His love for Monty Python. His anxious jaw clenching. His good teeth.
From him I learned the power of silence. The way it can make people feel heard and loved, the way it can terrify someone to their core, the way it can instill the sense of being a disappointment when they fuck up.
From him I learned to have high standards for trust. He has never once disappointed me or not shown up. He set the bar. He gave all the men I know an unreachable standard to uphold, and it has been his greatest gift to me.
That and the ability to do the times tables.
Every night in grade four I had to sit in my room and write out the times table from 1-12, twelve times EACH while Full House was on until I memorized them.
It was cruel.
Six times four is twenty four.
We would lie in bed and read together every night. He’d read a page, and I’d read a page. Harry Potter, those garbage Mary-Kate and Ashley mystery books, The Bailey School Kids. Our favourite was Roald Dahl- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in particular… the BFG was pretty good too.
He was determined to make sure I could do all the things he always struggled with. Reading and writing are two things he hates doing but he made sure to instill a love for it in me.
He was my live in play mate. Endless rounds of Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Sorry, Operation, Trouble, Connect Four.
He was the main victim of my prank phase at age 12- cellophane on the toilet, a clear elastic band around the hose in the kitchen sink. His patience never wavered, and he almost always laughed.
We would blast R.E.M, Alanis Morissette, The Talking Heads, The Band, Smashing Pumpkins, Phil Collins, Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones and (my personal favourite) Queen, so loud the neighbours could hear while we vacuumed and tidied before Mom came home. At age 10 I would roll my eyes because I would have much prefered N’Sync but also I couldn’t help but sing every word to “Losing my Religion” while dusting under the lamps.
He drove me to Dal every September and picked me up every April. On the four hour drive I’d talk and talk and talk and talk, and he’d nod and grunt. Eventually I’d get winded from all the chatting and we’d sit comfortably in silence.
At some point I think our roles switched. He didn’t have to worry about me as much- he knew I was capable. Suddenly I found myself starting to worry about him. The more time I spent away the more I worried.
He lost his own father this year and dealt with it in his classic stoic silence. He’d call to give matter of fact updates on the health of my beloved grandfather. He’d use the soft tone of voice he used when I was a kid and was struggling with my math homework.
Optimistic, encouraging, gentle, honest.
It doesn’t come naturally for the Hebb’s to communicate emotions through words.
We choose to show not tell.
We won’t often tell each other “I love you” even though our love for one another is unwavering. We show it through making each other meals, reaching the top shelf for our shorter family members, or going for silent drives to the shore.
I celebrate having a gentle giant for a Dad today, but I’m grateful for it everyday. I’m proud to take on the responsibility of being his legacy. I’m so lucky to have him there to catch me when I fall, it makes the bumps and bruises from life hurt less.
It’s nice to know when I need a bit of silence he’ll be in the backyard with the dogs and an Alpine, waiting and ready for me.