Five years ago today, my Dad passed away. I was out on a date with my husband. My phone was silenced because we’d just been at the movie, ‘Amazing Grace,’ and afterward had headed out for dinner at Restaurant Zoe in Seattle. I don’t remember when exactly, but at some point during dinner my husband noticed as well that he’d received multiple calls from both my brother and mom. I knew then that something was wrong. Dave and I had just been talking about how much we thought my dad would have enjoyed the movie we’d just seen. It had this amazing ending with bagpipes and the playing of Amazing Grace. At his memorial service 2 weeks later this same melody was played, by a bagpiper, aboard the boast as we scattered my dad’s ashes in English Bay.
I had spoken with him earlier that day as I’d called to let both he and my mom know that the trampoline I had bought for our family had arrived and was now ‘good to go’ in our backyard. I grew up with a trampoline in my backyard in Vancouver, B.C. and was so excited to share experiences on this one with my kids. My dad’s comments, when I shared this exciting news was very typical style,’I hope no one breaks their neck’ (along with a good laugh and say hi to everyone for me). They were getting ready to head out to a party at the Vancouver Yacht Club, one of my dads favorite spots. I’m glad that I called them that afternoon. He suffered a cardiac arrest at the party that evening. He had lived longer than anticipated, having undergone 2 open heart surgeries with multiple bypasses (the first one in his mid 40’s) but it didn’t make it any less sudden, shocking, tragic and just plain awful. My kids loved my dad. Having to share about his death the next morning and holding them while they sobbed, wept and grieved was one of the most difficult times in my life. I don’t think anything can prepare you for such loss.
James Colin Heaney (known to many as Jim, Jimmy and to my children as Shenner) was born Oct. 8, 1932 in Alexandria, Scotland. He was the only child of David and Jessie Heaney. He immigrated to Canada in his early 20’s after working on the docks in England and flying for the R.A.F. He met my mom in 1961 and they were married in 1962. There’s a lot more to my dad, who he was, his character, life and story. I miss him. I know that my mom still misses him terribly. I’m writing this today to help me remember, to cry, to grieve and to share a little bit of our story. I sense his presence with me at various times and hear him laughing, joking, and chatting in my head sometimes as well. I catch myself saying, and sometimes thinking, ‘That’s what my Dad would have said, or done, or ‘now I understand what he meant when he said……. or felt……..’ “.