Celebrating Art

Earlier this month I had the privilege to write an autobiography of my father-in-law, Art. He recorded a recollection of his life of 80 years on a tape recorder.  While I was typing, it felt like he was sitting in the room with me re-telling his life story. What a gift it is to have all of that on a tape.  Maybe that is a piece of technology that we shouldn’t have been so quick to toss away.

Art endured a lot in his life – surviving the war, moving to Canada and learning a foreign language, working numerous jobs and creating his own business, recovering from multiple heart surgeries  – just a few of his challenging experiences.   What I admire most about Art is his positive attitude.  When you ask him how he is, he jokingly responds that he can’t complain, and if he did, no one would listen anyway! But seriously, I have never heard him complain about anything, even during the times where he would have every right to.

When Hubby was first separated, he moved into his Dad’s condo with no questions asked.  Art even helped him build walls and a floor in the basement so that Hubby and his girls would have a private place to stay.  After being on his own for a number of years, it must have been challenging for him to suddenly share his space.  Maybe that is why he moved out shortly after I also moved into the condo!  But again, he never once complained.

I really appreciate how Art accepted me into his life with no judgement.  Being 13 years younger than Hubby and separated myself, I had a lot of reasons to be judged.  It was nice to be around someone who was genuinely interested in getting to know me. I will always be grateful to Art for welcoming me into his family.

Art is a very creative person.  He built his own cottage, and for his businesses he built houses, riding arenas and horse barns.  His creative skills were really appreciated by Hubby and me over the years. He generously helped us build a deck, built us a beautiful gazebo that we miss terribly, built Muskoka Chairs, a bird house, painted walls – the list is endless! He even came to Germany and helped Hubby install our kitchen.

When I finished writing Art’s autobiography, I asked him if there was anything in his life he would have done differently. He replied that he doesn’t regret any decision he made.  This is another example of the positive approach Art takes towards life, and I think it is a good way to look at past decisions – learn from them but not regret them. Sometimes a decision that appears to have been a wrong one, may have led you to circumstances that you appreciate today.

I recently went through a box of older photos taken of Art (again, a simple pleasure that in my opinion, digital technology has taken away).  I couldn’t help thinking that this man really knew how to have fun!  He especially seemed to like Halloween as there were numerous photos of him all dressed up in crazy costumes.  One year he was even transformed into a woman but in spite of the big bust he had, I think he is better off staying a man.  Especially with the big moustache.

And party is what Art still plans to do, to celebrate his 80th birthday!  Today is his actual birthday, but the party is in a few weeks and we are all looking forward to celebrating his special milestone with him. I just hope he leaves the bra at home.

Happy Birthday Vater!  Thank you for your generosity, love and endless enthusiasm.

3 thoughts on “Celebrating Art

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