Lessons from My Dad

February 23, 2011

On Sunday February 20th, in his 83rd year, my Dad passed away. I was blessed to have a wonderful relationship with him, and to be with him just before he passed, to tell him how much I loved him, hold his hand and give him a final kiss goodbye.

I was certainly ‘daddy’s little girl’. He was always there for me no matter what. He was so proud of all my accomplishments, big and small, and always quick to encourage me when challenges arose.

He constantly encouraged me to do what I love and always said “Don’t worry, you’ll make it”, and every time he phoned me he asked “How is the most beautiful girl in Ottawa?”

He was easy-going, fun to be around, never raising his voice. At the same time, we knew we were in trouble when my mom would say “Wait until your father finds out.”

Here are but a few lessons I’ve learned from my Dad

1. Don’t be afraid to try.

He taught me how to drive, in fact right after I got my ‘365’ (never having driven before) we drove down Baseline Road, he parked at Vincent Massey Park and told me to go ahead and drive the remaining 2km home. He had way more confidence in me than I had in myself. I declined the to offer to drive home and with patience he took the time every day to give me driver’s lessons and I passed my test on the first try.

Result – I love being an entrepreneur, to try and try again, to look ahead every day with confidence as opposed to fear.

2. Get out and get active

He taught me how to ski, came to my many, many soccer games (at a time when it wasn’t the norm for all parents to show up), took me to the finish line of the first National Capital Marathon and told me I could run a marathon one day (now I’ve run 5), taught my brother and I how to water ski, and encouraged us in all our activities. When I graduated from high school, I was one of the top ten graduating athletes and went on to captain the first Women’s Varsity  Soccer team at Carleton University.

Result – My life happily centers around an active lifestyle and encouraging others to do the same.

3. Love your neighbour

In the weeks and months before my dad passed, he reminded me quite a few times that he wanted to be remembered as a good Christian.  I believe, to him, this meant lending a hand whenever he was asked to, being quick with a compliment, creating community with friends and loved ones, gathering for parties, dinners and simple conversation, and being of service through church and through Kiwanis.

Result – Our wonderful Elation Centre community teaches yoga, running and healthy eating. It is also more than that: it’s about community and service.

4. Believe in yourself

I’ll never forget when I was training for my first marathon and an injury kept me from competing in the race. A few people suggested that maybe it was just too much, a marathon was too far to run. Dad quickly piped up and said “Don’t worry, there will be another chance and you’ll do it!”

He was also so proud of my entrepreneurial drive and accomplishments and would brag to his friends, and really anyone who would listen, about what I was doing at the time (sometimes to my embarrassment). Now I see how important it is to have a cheerleader on your side.

Result – I realize that I am now a cheerleader. This is my passion and my dharma: to inspire and uplift with my entrepreneurial spirit,  with the passion for healthy, active living and with my commitment to community and service.

The best thing I can say to my Dad is “Thank you. You did a great job and because of your love and support I am doing great.’

I’ll miss him.

I am so touched by the outpouring of support and many people are asking about attending a visitation or the memorial, from the information in the Ottawa Citizen, here are the details

“Friends are invited to visit at the West Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 150 Woodroffe Avenue (at Richmond Road) on Wednesday from 2-4pm and 7-9pm. A Memorial Service will be held on Thursday at Trinity United Church, 1099 Maitland Avenue at 2pm. For those wishing, donations may be made to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute or the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.”


11 Responses to “Lessons from My Dad”

  1. Jennifer Baldwin on February 23rd, 2011 1:31 pm


    This tribute to your father is beautiful. I am very sorry for your family’s loss.

    Jennifer Baldwin

  2. Donna on February 23rd, 2011 1:50 pm

    Thanks Jennifer, he was a wonderful father and friend

  3. Jenn Wrightsell-Hughes on February 23rd, 2011 2:21 pm


    These beautiful words about your father really capture his essence and your love for him. It is clear that his support and love contributed to making you the strong and successful woman you are today.

    Thinking of you at this difficult time,


  4. Donna on February 23rd, 2011 2:45 pm

    Thanks Jenn: I do love him very much, he taught me how very important it is to offer unconditional love and support those close to us.

  5. Jenn B on February 23rd, 2011 6:12 pm

    Dear Donna,
    So sorry to hear about your loss. The tribute to your father is simply beautiful.
    Thinking of you,

  6. Patricia on February 23rd, 2011 6:19 pm

    Dear Donna,

    Please accept our sincere condolences during this time. All of the beautiful memories you shared of your father will stay in your heart forever, but also in our minds for a long, long time.

    We are thinking of you.

    Patricia & André

  7. Stephanie Nutting on February 24th, 2011 7:39 pm

    Your dad was a terrific, generous and witty man. You got all of that. Thinking of you, Donna.
    Please tell your mom and Ernie I am thinking of them too.

  8. sue Ducros on March 1st, 2011 12:52 am

    How beautiful ..his legacy lives on through you!
    You are always so positive and smiley…now we know why!

  9. Marion Southern on March 6th, 2011 9:42 pm

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your father.

    Marion (Southern) Hargreaves
    Brockville, Ontario

  10. Katie on March 7th, 2011 1:41 pm

    Donna, your dad sounds like an amazing man and his influence has helped make you the incredible woman you are today. I’m so happy I know you and feel privileged to have learned more about this lovely man. He is an example to us all. Much love, Katie

  11. Donna on March 8th, 2011 7:04 pm

    hi Marion: so wonderful to hear from you, thanks for sending your condolences. Hope all is well in Brockville

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