My father, Clyde Mitchelmore Jr., left this world on September 17, 1999, he was just 38 years old. It is approaching 14 years since this life altering day. Now at 27, I have spent more than half my life without his guidance, the ability to learn his many talents and share with him life’s successes and failures.
Today, I reflect on his life, through photos, his journal and other memories in which I hold dear. My father was the sixth of eight children born to Clyde and Rhoda Mitchelmore of Green Island Cove. He was very young when he fell in love with my mother in the 1970’s. They shared almost 20 years of marriage before his untimely death.
My father was a teenager when my sister was born. He took his responsibilities as a father very seriously and went to college in St. Anthony to further his skills as a carpenter. He worked hard and built a home for my mother, sister and soon a son – I was to arrive in the Fall of 1985! We certainly lived modestly, but we were very happy, because we had each other.
My dad always made time for me, whether it was my little wooden boat for the yard puddles, the ‘horse’ or ‘piggie’ back rides, pulls on my sleigh that resembled a ski-doo, tailing rabbit snares in the woods, making a Dennis the Menace sling shot, homemade ring toss, wheel barrel, bow and arrow or using up most of his lumber to build me a basketball court. He also made the best snow tunnels and houses. Dad could do it all! He helped with perfecting that pirate beard for Halloween or designed the Matthew, which would undoubtedly win the bicycle decorating contest in 1997.
Dad was a small boat fishermen – he built his own flat bottom boats and took me with him cod fishing in 1999. One day off Labrador, I let the big one get away as I was a real “greenhorn” with the gaff and likely not to follow in my father’s footsteps as a fisher. However, his journal recordings show that I did pull in more than 450 lbs that day. Those days on the water were good – I hope never to forget them. From the ‘lassy bread, Big Turk Bars and other goodies in our beef bucket lunch pail, to the 4 AM wake-up calls and long days. One evening, I must have been deeply dreaming of jigging as I perched up on the sofa and started pulling on the lines, back and forth as I rocked back and forth. I must get that trait from my mother. 🙂
Now, Dad had his routine habits, which included the nap after supper daily and the nightly visits to “mother and father’s house, Tuesday night darts, plaid shirts, movies on ASN and keeping records of all the NHL hockey play-off games before the Internet was there to keep the records. His journal records show he paid attention to weather, daily events and his family. There are many mentions of how I did on a test or my report card. He also loved golf.
He even designed his own driving range on the front of the house. He likely would have kept driving those balls, but the net didn’t always catch them and he likely didn’t want to risk breaking a windshield of passing traffic as some balls bounced off the nearby Route 430 asphalt. He would have loved the Newfoundland themed golf-course I designed that my Uncle Dan & his crew built for Flower’s Island Museum in summer of 2003. One of the last journal entries he wrote in August 1999 had a line “Christopher beat me at mini-golf today, it won’t happen again” and he was right, it never did.
My father had so much talent, he could build anything – he made snowshoes and bark-tanned sealskin to make traditional seakskin boots. He even liked to sing, especially during Christmas visiting. One thing for certain, I don’t think anyone in our family of four were blessed with hitting any high notes.
I look up to my father – remember him as honest, hardworking and diplomatic. I only hope to conduct myself in a similar way of being fair to people and helping out where possible.
Before Dad left for his last journey fishing in Nain, Labrador he said to me, “you are the man of the house now, so be sure to help your mother – be sure to take out the garbage and help with the chores”. At that moment, I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see him again.
As a family, we moved forward together. I want to thank all my friends and family for helping me through such difficult times and being there for me, to support me in any decision I made, whether to start a business, travel overseas or enter a political race. Life is not always easy. We all face challenges, struggles, regret and loss. Life is also about the happier times, when we celebrate a milestone, a birthday, wedding, enjoy a great vacation or learn a new skill.
On Father’s Day, take time out to spend with your father in person, over the telephone, via Skype, at a cemetery or in your memories. Family is certainly a cornerstone of our lives and society – let’s not forget this!
Thinking of you today and always Dad.
With love –Christopher Clyde Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North