Saturday was my father’s funeral and I decided, while we were organizing, that I wanted to speak. Of course, after I made the commitment it was difficult to figure out what to say. Then one night last week I was lying in bed, exhausted and trying to get to sleep when thoughts started coming to me, so I sat up, turned on the light and wrote them down. And it all came out.
I don’t know how my Dad would feel about me going with my first draft, but it felt right. So I went with this:
Growing up a Scanlon in Old Ottawa South, I was constantly asked the question ‘Oh, are you related to Joe Scanlon?’
I had no desire to go to the Carleton journalism program, I wanted to be a separate entity from my father. So, even though I eventually chose journalism I went to college and went away from Ottawa. I shouldn’t have been surprised when, upon meeting me, my first prof asked ‘Oh, are you related to Joe Scanlon?’
This week has been difficult because I chose to change my name when I got married and now I feel almost desperate for people to know that yes, he’s my Dad. I am a Scanlon.
In fact, I have many traits that, for years, have led my mother to exclaim ‘You’re just like your father.’
It took me until I was an adult to realize that I am perfectly okay being like my father. It means persistence, a drive for excellence, a love of politics, news and the art of language, and the inability to talk slowly. I am also excellent at sarcasm and punning. No Scanlon has ever come across a bad joke they didn’t like.
So I have to thank my Dad for the traits he passed on to me. I have to thank him for bringing the five of us together this week and allowing us to develop a closer relationship. I want to thank him for bringing Kathleen into our lives.
Dad never told me he was proud of me. He never told me he loved me. But one last thing I’ve learned from my father, and all the people sharing stories and condolences, is that actions speak louder than words.
He didn’t tell each of us that he was proud of our accomplishments or hard work, he told everybody else. And now we have those words reaching out to us, giving us comfort.