Too soon and yet after too much suffering, my father has died as the result of complications from Parkinson’s. It’s a horrible disease. An eventual life sentence of deteriorating motor skills, loss of independence and dementia. He was 82, but in the past year, he aged to look ten years older. He was my Daddy and no matter what illness did to him, he somehow kept a glimmer of his sense of humour, a testament to his strength.
Dad defied the odds and his own lack of formal education and started his own business, after eighteen years of working for CN railway. CN wasn’t a safe place to work back then. Colleagues got killed in terrible ways. Dad saw the limits of working for CN to his lifespan and his bank account, and decided to strike out on his own.
After joining a couple of brothers in a pallet company, he launched his own railroad-related business, Galaxy of West Lincoln, and for decades he and my brother and their various crews traveled the country, taking up decommissioned railroad tracks and dismantling bridges and trestles. As kids, we knew how to advise customers about the various grades and types of railroad ties. For many years, with our Mom doing the books and running the offices, they did very well.
Dad always had an interest in horses and he was probably the happiest when he was training, riding or mucking out the stalls of his own beasts. Dad was an Olympic-level prankster. From his legendary games of touched-you-last to a long list of giggle-inducing capers, he liked nothing better than making someone laugh. This is my favourite picture of my Dad. I had been playing with his hair and noticed it would stand up on its own. He agreed to the photo, enjoying how much he was making me laugh.
When I was little, Dad trained me to say a few different things. One of the phrases that came up over and over again through our lives was, “I’m your darling daughter and I love you very much”. It always made us smile. I wrote that on a card I gave him this past Valentine’s Day.
This isn’t a complete story of my Dad’s life. I couldn’t possibly tell you everything that happened over eight decades. He used to ride a motorcycle. He sold produce from a portable stand. He loved to fish and hunt. And there’s a lot about his life I simply didn’t, and couldn’t know. He wasn’t perfect. He liked his beer a little too much in his middle years, but he more than made up for his absences later in life. He was kind and sensitive. He worried more than he liked to let on. His last words to me, when he fully knew it was me, were “I love you”. It doesn’t get any better than that in this life. I love you, too, Dad. I’m your darling daughter and I love you very much.
My Dad’s official obituary, including a nod to his legendary pranks, is here: Jack Hubbs.