"Did you ever know that you're my hero,and everything I would like to be."
He lay ill in his hospital bed, his mind ravished by alzheimers. He only knew his children as "my people" and that we always seemed to be there. He noticed that nobody ever came to see the man in the bed next to him. Overcome with concern for him my Father asked us "Do you think we should get him some people?" That is who my Father was. I lost my best friend in the whole world when he died. He is and always will be my hero.
My Father spent his life concerned and caring for others. He was a devout Catholic and a good, descent and honest man. Dad never had a bad word to say about anybody. He taught us the true meaning of unconditional love. My father loved us and stood by us no matter what. Always.
The bond that Dad shared with his brothers and sisters was strong and life lasting. He had come from a family of six siblings who knew their fair share of hardships. Born on the prairie in Saskatchewan times were hard for the family. But together they made it through. Dad first came east to Ontario in 1937 . He would come to Ontario with his father Joseph. Joseph designed and built the first portable arc welder and had come to Orillia so that the factory Tudhope Specialties could build them.
Dad married my mother, Muriel on September 2nd, 1944. She was a student nurse at the time and they were married in Toronto. Together they raised a family of nine children in an Orillia, Ontario home that Dad lovingly built for his growing family. Dad worked as an automobile mechanic and did wood-working as his hobby. He was extremely skilled at woodsman-ship making many pieces of furniture which are now treasured by his family. Dad also built two alters for the Guardian Angels Catholic church in Orillia. Dad was also an avid gardener with his prized roses, begonia and geraniums among his favorites. Dad also dabbled in photography and loved to line his nine children up in chronological order to take family photos!
Not long after Dad's retirement he was stricken with pancreatic cancer. He underwent the Whipple procedure, beat the survival odds and lived a full life after. In his early 80's Dad began to show signs of Alzheimer's. He never forgot his faith, his mother or his love of the Saskatchewan prairie. In 1997 his wife Muriel and sons Dan, John and Michael took Dad on his final trip home to visit his beloved Saskatchewan. Many times during his illness he told me that he was moving home to the prairie.
I was honored to have taken my father on his final trip up to the cemetery in Orillia to visit the grave of his mother. Despite the advancement of his Alzheimer's he knew exactly where he was and who he was visiting. He had spent a long time at the grave of his mother that day. My father remained loyal to his mother and to her memory his whole life.
On the long weekend in May of 2001 my father suffered a broken hip and we were forced to place him in long term care. His family remained closely at his side during the next very difficult 7 months.
New years eve, 2001 I spent by my fathers side during a hospital stay. When I was a child my father had told me that when he died he only wanted two things, to be surrounded by his family and to be able to look up and know that we were alright. Despite his advanced Alzheimer's and his illness we were able to speak. I told him about his family and what each one of his children were doing in their lives. I told him that his family was doing very well and that he was the best father there ever was. He kept repeating the words "my family doing well". I told my father that night that his job here was done, that he had been the best person and father that there could be and that he was only to rest now.
In the morning of January 10 2002 my Father very peacefully passed away. He was surrounded by his wife, his children and a Grandson. The room was full of love, respect and gratitude for this man. I was sat beside him holding his hand as he slipped from this world into the next.
Muriel Olive June Elder Oschefski