Father’s Day and Odds and Ends

Ian McArthur is the world’s greatest father. (Hold your dissent –it’s my blog.) My siblings, my cousins and everyone who knows him agrees with me. A safe port in any storm, a rock, an engineer with the soul of a poet. An historian, a master gardener, an opera buff who wept every time he heard Graceland. He’s so  brilliant he got out of high school when he was fourteen — in fact he did grades one through five in one year. He read Huckleberry Finn when he was eight and can still quote passages almost verbatim. He starts geraniums from seed in February under a Gro Light. He irons. He memorized the Rubaiyat so he could recite it to my mother. He has helped us out financially embarrassingly often. He has two daughters with disabilities in their fifties who still live with them, and he’s their Daddy — running the house, doing the laundry, the grocery shopping and scheduling doctors appointments.

He’s had lunch with Charles de Gaulle and got stranded on a deserted airstrip in Brazil. He did business in Japan where his surname, despite the spelling variant, was something to overcome, and he did. When my mother was in hospice for two months he never left her — he slept on a cot in her room.

When he went to his first job as a Junior Chemist straight out of the University of Toronto Chemical Engineering it was at a CIP paper mill in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. He noticed something off: the thousands of papermakers spoke French and management didn’t. He learned French, on his own, in three weeks. (He later taught himself Russian from a book.) He was a legend in that mill, later managed it and rose up the company hierarchy until he was the de facto VP Operations.

He read me a bedtime story every single night — an early fave was The Tawny Scrawny Lion. Books in Engliah were unobtainable in Trois-Rivieres so anytime he went on a business trip to Montreal he’d bring me one — typically literary totems of his youth, like Tom Sawyer or Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I remember my mother raising her eyebrows at The Idiot — she said: “This is not suitable.” She was right, of course — no thirteen year old can comprehend The Idiot. But Daddy wanted me to love what he loved, and perhaps he understood Dostoevsky when he was thirteen.

Now I’m stuck with this.  Nuff said.

I’m sending virtual cuff links, ties ,golf balls and kisses to all you rockin’ fathers out there.



Filed under Free, Growing things, History, Home, Into the Mystic

7 responses to “Father’s Day and Odds and Ends

  1. That topped off a great a father’s day for me. Bravo!

  2. That was great!

    Right on, Maggie’s Dad. No surprise a MAGGIE resulted.

    I love the garden-view checklist.

  3. Gretchen

    a true tribute to your father, I wish I could meet him.

  4. absurdoldbird

    He sounds great, as is your post!
    (And, sadly, I read Dostoevsky at 13. Straight after I’d finished with Enid Blyton. Go figure.)

  5. Leslie

    Just read this and loved all the tid bits, front men for all those great personal stories lurking behind. A special Uncle…the fact that he is now my one and only…makes me miss my Dad though…so much time has gone by!

  6. janet sterling

    Hi Margaret (Maggie),
    This blog was a lucky find while googling your aunt and my cousin Charlotte and her art.
    Your father Ian, my first cousin has many wonderful attributes which I feel lucky to say were shared by my “Ian McArthur father”. I feel they might be tied to the name as my 40-year old son Ian certainly is a wonderful father of three having read Charlotte’s Web to his firstborn on her first day at home. So far his “gardening gene” hasn’t blossomed!
    I enjoy your writing and will follow it with interest.
    Janet McArthur Sterling, Ottawa

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