My Father

My father was born in a white wooden farm house in Douglas, Ontario.

When my grandmother was three months pregnant, her husband died tragically.

The year before my father was born, my grandmother gave births to fraternal twins.

One baby, Harold lived for a week and the other, a girl died possibly from SIDS when she was a month old.

Stephen Whelan, was baptized two days after he was born. At the speed of light by today’s standards.

I imagine my grandmother at the baptism I can only imagine her as a very proper & formidable woman. Not as a grieving widow of six months. With her first born, a son, fourteen years my fathers senior, another son and three daughters, at her side as the priest, removed mortal sin from my fathers soul. Without her husband whom my father was named after. And he after his father who came to Canada from Southern Ireland.

My father was born at home, the day after Halloween, on All Saint’s Day. A day of religious obligation in the Catholic Church & at the time a holiday. My father would’ve had to have gone to mass every year on his birthday. The farm he grew up on was within walking distance, to St. Michaels in Douglas.

I can’t imagine he was particularly pious & going to mass was at the time a way to see friends and have some fun.

My grandmother was not the sort of woman who would throw a birthday party for her children & perhaps it wasn’t a common practice.

I imagine my father & his brothers and sisters visiting their father’s grave after mass & then heading to the church basement for homemade beans, coleslaw & squares, after fasting before mass.

I wish he had been able to tell me these stories himself.

The faithful abstract of baptism was issued six days before my parents wedding.

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