My dad was a proud man, you know? That was as close as he was ever going to get to saying sorry. He wasn't the kind of guy who could admit he was wrong. He was convinced he’d done God’s bidding in sending his kids to an abusive boarding school in a foreign country and then, for the next several decades, blaming them for not emerging socially well-adjusted and zealously Christian. He had convinced himself that he’d given us a unique opportunity: children of missionaries were the lucky few. He thought we should thank him. He blamed spiritual disobedience for my subsequent, long-term maladjustment.
“If I could do it again, I would do things differently.” Those words wrenched themselves out of my dad just a couple days before he died: even on his deathbed, apologizing did not come to him easy. I never heard him say the actual word “sorry.” He did not think he had to ask my forgiveness for anything he’d done. So he didn't.
Would things ever have been different? I don’t see it. My dad believed what he believed. Age only made him more adamant. I think if you gave my dad nine more chances, nine re-dos, in all nine of them my brother and I end up, held incommunicado against our will, in a foreign boarding school, while my dad, unencumbered by parental responsibilities, blossoms for the Lord.
It was two years ago today that he died. I didn’t attend his funeral. I couldn’t sit in another architecturally horrendous, evangelical church with another Christian-kewl bearded pastor presiding, buttering up my dead dad as a man of God, a saint, one of the chosen. Are any of us divine emissaries? Are any of us supposed to be? It’s dangerous stuff thinking you’re more than what you are. My dad was a human; and, like the rest of us, he did not have a fucking clue what he was doing. The people who kept filling his head with this bizarre idea, that he was a divinely-appointed emissary unbound by conventional social and scientific constraints, are the ones who really did him in.
A pair of Okanagan Snowsells: My dad liked to take me on wine tours when he would visit. He had a good palate or nose or whichever one it is: his wine knowledge was impressive and his taste well-developed. The Okanagan wine tours weren't really about the wine for my dad, though: wine tours were opportunities for him to tell tasting room staff up and down the valley who the Snowsells were, why they were important and formidable pioneers, and that they were fortunate enough to be in the presence of one, ok two, but only sort of.
On one of my last flights out of Kelowna Airport, the WestJet check-in agent complained to me about my name. She lived on Snowsell Street, newly named, and she was none too pleased. Before being named Snowsell Street, it was called Glenmore, and she resented the change. "What kind of a name is that?" she scolded me. "No one can even pronounce it! It's so annoying, like, every time you have to tell someone where you live, it's just...!" Unlike my father, I have no problem apologizing. Indeed, saying sorry for things I didn't do is a specialty of mine and so I said sorry for my name.