Our Best Dad Memories

Father’s Day has us thinking about our dads- what they’ve taught us, shown us, and embedded deep into our psyches. Much as we’d like to think otherwise (because really, we all want it to look easy, don’t we?), it took LOTS of hard work to get us here & make us the women that we are today, and our dads are central figures in that journey. Laura, Raquel & Shira share some of their best memories of their incredible dads and some favorite lessons learned along the way.

Laura and her dad Steve

Laura and Steve

My dad and I have always been buddies. Not in a “Daddy’s little girl” way, but a true and unspoken bond. I can’t say I’ve ever considered myself “Daddy’s little girl”, and I’m sure he’d agree. It’s always been Dad and his kick-ass sidekick, partner in crime, with a shared dry wit and love of fashion, U2, wine, travel, and the Raptors (to name a few).

Growing up, my parents and I would travel to Florida every summer to visit my Dad’s family, which was always capped off with a full day at Disney World. I got it in my mind that my dad absolutely loved (LOVED!) the sweltering hot attraction that was Minnie Mouse’s house. To this day, my mom describes the sheer terror in my dad’s eyes as mine simultaneously lit up upon approaching the house, and my insistence that just Dad and I have our special visit to his favourite attraction. No matter how many times my mom tried to volunteer in his place, I wasn’t having it. It was our thing. But being my great dad and best buddy, he continued to join me, year after year. That’s the kind of man he is. The kind of man who would cheekily rock a Warner Brothers t-shirt to Disney World, but not a chance was he refusing a ride on the spinning tea cups with his favourite gal. The kind of man who would keep me laughing as we waited for hours for a hug and an autograph from Eeyore, Mickey Mouse, Princess Jasmine, and every magical character in between. And the kind of man who would do it all over again the next year, because giving me those memories was the best part of it all.

Happy memories with my dad are such a gift from my childhood, but ultimately even greater are the values that were instilled into my character. My parents were ahead of their time, and trailblazers of their generation. Rebels, hippies, outlaws, however you want to describe it, they were living for it. The day that David Bowie died was devastating to me, because I knew how devastating it would be for my dad. He admired Bowie because he showed kids like him who were masculine, and athletic, and strong, that they were also allowed to be creative, and sensitive, and insightful. When I expressed to my dad how sorry I was when I heard that Bowie had passed, he reflected on how meaningful his music and life was to him, and then he said to me “Never change for anybody!”. That was pretty cool, Dad.

Not surprisingly, my absolute favourite thing that I inherited from him is our shared affinity for fashion. He’s always had an incredibly natural eye, and has sharply curated his own personal style. I’ve taken a lot of cues from him throughout my career as a stylist, but I can still pinpoint the moment I realized we had developed this very specific bond. That was the day my father casually picked out my prom shoes: gold metallic strappy sandals that I still own and wear to this day!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away…   😉

Raquel and her dad Gary

Raquel and Gary

In the lead up to Father’s day we start to take a minute and ask ourselves “what would Dad like?”. Weird question, no? If your father is like my father, getting him to request a gift is nearly impossible. His answers usually revolve around “just to see your face” or, “Oh, I’m ok, I have everything I need, just a smile from my family.” My favourite answer: “ask your mother.” A constant joke runs in the family, and it goes a little like: “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. If Daddy ain’t happy, nobody cares.” Well, Dad, gotta love you for that one, but truth be told, seeing a smile on your face brightens up any day.

I am so blessed to have the father I have. To say he taught me a lesson or two is an understatement. My father taught, and still continues to do, my family and me that happiness is a key ingredient to a successful life. Broad lesson? Well, it is in the small things. Like having family dinner every week, taking long drives to the cottage, going on walks with my mother, sharing his ice cream with the dogs, or cooking up a meal that can make the loudest family go silent.

For as long as I can remember, and this is because it has been this way since before I was born, the hearth of our home has been the kitchen. My father is an amazing Chef, like un-be-liev-ab-le. Really, it is to the point where it is very hard for me to go to a restaurant these days and find it worth it. I have many times cancelled plans with my friends, just to have dinner at my parents knowing he is cooking for theirs. His passion in the kitchen is from everything from the colour of the vegetable, to the smell of the seasoning, to the right way to cut your steak, or to properly stuff your pasta with more pasta. This last one happened recently, and we were not disappointed. And that is just exactly it, the man would not even eat the stuffed pasta, but seeing everyone smiling and unable to talk while they were eating made him happy.

For a while I have been compiling his recipes and have even successfully made an entire cookbook dedicated to him, that is now in the process of getting published #GarysGoodies, (yes this is a plug.) I must say the lesson I learned while even secretly getting these recipes and putting this together, was that if not all, then most of these recipes were literally conjured up in a dream, and with his patience, passion and talent, he made those dreams come to life. DREAMS DO COME TRUE. Like a true artist he dreams of his creations and works hard to make them come true. This brings me to another lesson: nothing worth having, comes for free.

Since I was a little girl I have definitely been a bit of the “dreamer” of the family. While my siblings always got along with a very similar sense of humour and interests, I was singing and dancing trying to fly and float around the house. I never cared for or was very good at academics, and the only thing that seemed to keep my attention was fashion magazines. Enter the ever-supportive father. Not only did he make it work that during summers I could go and study programs for fashion design, he in turn would always help me with whatever designs I created and still does. Always adding that very much needed extra touch or tassel or advice on what kind of collection I should curate next. He is usually right on the mark. Being naturally creative himself, he has always understood my need to go against the grain, but always helped me stay grounded when my head goes a little too much above the clouds, and for the that Dad, and all the above, I forever say: Thank you and I love you, Happy Father’s Day, from a daughter and a family who worship and love you very deeply. May our happiness be a reflection of yours.

Shira and her dad Israel

Shira and Israel

It feels very strange to call my dad Israel, because really, everyone knew him as Yosko.  Kinda like Bowie.  Or Sting.  His personality was just that much larger than life that he was worthy of a 1-name name.  Even our Rabbi didn’t know his actual first name.  He was just Yosko.  As eccentric and colourful as the day was long, he could on one hand tell you about all the restaurants (read: truck stops) along the 401 and which place had the best poutine while simultaneously debating an obscure mathematical theorem.

Looking back there are so many lessons that I learned from him, but probably key among them was this: life is about experiences.  It’s about seeing.  It’s about doing.  It’s about being 100% unapologetic about having the desire & drive to experience all that life has to offer. There’s no distance too far to go for what you want- whether it’s driving 2 hours to a favourite lunch spot or flying across the world for that exciting new job.  Few supported me more loudly and proudly as I moved to different parts of the world in pursuit of *the* job because he understood better than most that I needed to go.  And see.  And do.

If ‘unapologetic-ness’ was his biggest lesson to me, the 2nd very close one is generosity of spirit to family and friends.  Oh so many stories to tell here, but my favourite one is this:

When I was 19, my father was splitting his time between Russia (where he was doing business) and Montreal.  Because he would be away weeks at a time, my brother and I would trade off flying somewhere to see him that was 1/2 way, which most often meant Western Europe.  On one epic trip, I flew to Paris to meet him for a week.  How unbelievably fortunate was I?? He’d been there a number of times over the years and knew the city like the back of his hand, so when we were planning where to go & what to see, he gave me carte blanche to decide.  I being the art & fashion freak that I am (even back then!) I had a LIST.  And so my dad being my dad, he spent the next 7 days indulging in my passion, spending 2 days visiting the Louvre (which let’s just say was *not* his thing), and the rest going from fashion house to fashion house, all the while encouraging me to try something on at each stop.  Let myself touch and experience and feel.  And dream.

I thank you dad for teaching me, and for always loving me as fiercely as you did.  I love you dearly and miss you daily.

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