Also as a teenager, I got involved with a local scuba diving club to learn the sport, improve my swimming and that became a wonderful pastime. We used the YMCA pool in winter for training and the lakes in summer. Diving in the freshwater lakes of central Ontario was an adventure and even ice diving in the winter; a chilling experience. The lakes are not colorful like coral diving in the ocean but they were a place of wonder under the waves and something new to explore. When this hobby turned professional it is funny how the fun wains. I and others in the club started to offer our services on a commercial base. Diving for lost articles from boats, cutting underwater pilings, doing work on docks, cleaning boat keels and other tasks kept us busy – but the sporting fun was lost as some of this was very hard work. A great experience and exposure that I would use to do one last dive in Fort Norman, NWT – a gruesome task and the finality to my diving adventure.
I was an avid golfer as a young teen. My parents belonged to the local golf club and it was only about 2 blocks from our house so heading to the course was an easy stroll for me. There were games with friends and regular competition sessions. Playing for a number of years I don’t remember being a good golfer just an average hitter that enjoyed the game until I left home for my RCMP life. I never took up the game again due to postings and other priorities in life – funny thing. It was a frustrating sport, I had a terrible slice, but it provided fun and social times.
Early family travels
Florida vacations, California relatives, weekend trips
Maybe I was lucky, more than I realized at the time, but there were a few holiday trips when I was younger that must have inspired my love of travel and wondering to see new and different things. Recalling weekend trips in the family car, where I often got sick and had to throw up, because my parents smoked, reminds me why I never smoked. Sitting in the back seat I would be choking on their smoke as we traveled for miles on windy roads to seek out the scenery. We would often travel north for weekends and stay in motels which I found exciting – I got my own room as I got older and took my mates along which was even more fun for us. Travels around the countryside of Central Ontario were common with trips to visit my aunt in Burlington, Ontario.
In my teenage years, my parents used to travel to Florida to get a break from the snowy cold winters and I got to go along on a few of those trips until traveling with your parents was no longer cool. Seeing Florida with the warm weather and ocean, palm trees and exotic birds always made mind dream of faraway places. Seems I’ve ended up retreating to one now I have retired.
We also visited my uncle in California once at Christmas time which was a great adventure for me as a young teenage boy. Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Farmers Market, Sunset Boulevard. I remember seeing western cowboy movie sets and sitting atop a horse next to a movie star of the day. California seemed cool and so much better than small town Orillia…I must return.
Parent Challenges and Opportunities
Life has a way of dealing both good and bad hands and it is up to us as to how we play the hand we are dealt. I felt that for all we had and the fun times as a youngster that I had to grow up quickly and had to deal with family issues.
As a teenager and dealing with your own emotions and changes, trying to complete high school and supporting the family by working at the garage was demanding. My parents had me later in their life. My father was busy with work and his own pastimes as I recall. My parents both enjoyed golfing, drinking and parties. Being exposed to an alcoholic father and a mother who was eventually hospitalized for mental health issues had its challenges for a young man. My father spent many years working hard and drinking likewise. He had bottles hidden around the business and at home. His vice was the cause of much anxiety around the home and at work as well as many family arguments. He was admitted to rehabilitation centers on a number of occasions but these didn’t seem to be successful. I remember the trips to visit him – not very pleasant as I recall.
My father due to his abuses had a health problem, particularly a heart that regularly suffered attacks. There were numerous angina attacks that required ambulance attendance to our house and transport to the hospital. Visits to the hospital and managing the business with my mother took on more strain. Later in life, his hospital admittance’s increased and his problems got more severe. It was most troubling to have to watch your father speaking to imaginary people and having alcoholic withdrawal attacks while his body was slowly shutting down. Eventually, it was too much for his body and he passed away.
My mother for one reason or another couldn’t cope with everything and here mental state required hospitalization and shock treatments that were popular in the 60’s. Her fun-loving and outgoing personality was never the same after that, I hated the required visits to this mental hospital in Whitby, Ontario. Her being committed was not voluntary and that was a point of concern for the rest of her married life. She eventually suffered a massive heart attack and while initially, she recovered she eventually suffered a massive heart failure at a family friend.
I am sure the exposure to all this trauma and family challenge helped me later in life as a Police officer and to understand human frailty and the situations that occur in life. This understanding was also used as my careers required me to embrace people management and mentoring skills. As I have wondered the world my association with my hometown has now faded with my only real connection these days is my parents’ graves in the local cemetery. I hope to visit there one day before I pass on to offer my last respects. From growing up I moved on to a career and to my adult family life.
Why not check out more of my memoirs including my career in the RCMP, travel adventures and a final family trip across Canada – see below links for the next stage of my life and adventures.