An amazing person in so many ways: a dedicated son and brother, a loving husband who tried his best to make my mother happy, and the proudest and most devoted father anyone could ever ask for. Truly the most dependable man you'd have the privilege to meet; he could always be relied upon to do what needed to be done and to be there when you needed him. He would be in anguish if something prevented him from keeping his word, and would fight through any adversity that threatened a promise he'd made. When his bike broke down in Michigan in July of 2011 and he was stuck with no way home, he agonized over having to miss a dinner date we'd made for my birthday - he ended up leaving his bike behind and spending over 11 hours wrangling with public transit and coach buses in order to get to Cambridge so we could have dinner together as a family the next day, and never ceased apologizing for having "screwed things up".
While he often professed to feel a bit dumb, he possessed one of the most active and inquisitive minds I've ever encountered. He never ceased in his curiosity about the world about him, the past that brought him here and what the future might hold - he devoted much of his great store of energy to lifelong learning, and held an incredible wealth of knowledge. While this sometimes leads to a one-sidedness of character, it was balanced by his good heartedness and easy humour; he was a man who could talk to - and laugh with - anyone he met. He was also the grand champion of making it seem like whatever little trifle I'd got him, be it a poor attempt at a Christmas gift or cheaping out with just a card on his birthday, was the most delightful thing he could have received. I know that all he really wanted was to spend as much time as possible with me.
He taught me to sail, to build, to fix, to maintain, to research before I spent my money, and to question the nature of everything around me. He never treated me as a child; he always spoke to me in the expectation that I would understand, and when I didn't he'd whip out his ever-present pen and teach me more on a paper restaurant napkin than I'd learn through the whole of highschool. He would test me hard at times, but never to see me fail - always in the belief that I would exceed even his high expectations. He held it as common knowledge that his daughter would succeed at anything I tried while ingraining in me that nothing is impossible and that you should never, ever give up.
He started riding motorcycles - specifically his Burgman 650 maxi-scooter - in 2004. It was something he'd wanted to do for his entire life, but it wasn't until his mother passed away that he found both the means and an end to the resistance he'd faced in the past. While a bad hip prevented him from riding a standard-style bike, he absolutely loved the Burgman and would blow the doors off anything else on the road! With its CVT the bike was unbeatable off the line, and the high carriage of the bike gave loads of cornering clearance, of which he used every last millimetre - noone could catch that man through the curves, except an experienced rider on a dedicated sport bike. Some of the happiest times of my life involve my Dad and his scoot, whether it was riding on the back when he'd pick me up at the office to take me to lunch, carving through the Forks of the Credit on my own bike with Dad and Tanker on theirs behind me in formation, or borrowing my mum's 250cc Big Ruckus on one of my Friday afternoons off to escape for a ride, just Dad and I. When Dad crashed his first Burgman due to a van suddenly turning left in front of him, his only thoughts were of when his bike would be fixed. When he hit a patch of gravel and went down near Ottawa, bruising him from knee to shoulder and tearing up his arm, he got back on the bike and rode home! Nothing could stand between Dad and his love of the open road, and he celebrated it and the friends he made along the way by putting tens of thousands of kilometers on per year while organizing rides, actively participating in and moderating online communities, supporting charity rides and riding to far-flung rallies.
A fairly talented athlete himself, he was incredibly supportive of all of the athletic endeavours I have had the privilege of pursuing. I will never forget him taking the afternoon off work to come watch me during the parents' open house on the Friday of my first week of goaltending school, or taking full days away from the office to come watch my tiny highschool get our butts kicked at the provincial field hockey championships. He hated that he couldn't come to more of my ice hockey games (since the arena air bothered his asthma), but throughout my childhood he'd be at every dance recital and every gymnastics performance - any time he might get to see me perform. Even into adulthood, my Dad would make time to come to my races; he was there for my first race ever (a tiny 5k in which I did almost everything wrong), my first 10k race, and my first Olympic tri. My times aren't anything special, but you'd never know it from talking to him - he never left any doubt as to what he saw as his pride and joy in life.
Some time yesterday morning, while out on his first ride after finally getting some ongoing transmission issues fixed on the Burgman and looking forward to Fathers' Day dinner with Tanker, my mum and myself, Dad's bike left the road near Alliston. A samaritan spotted it in the ditch, pulled over and called emergency services; an off-duty firefighter stopped and administered care; an ambulance took him to the hospital with preparations made to airlift him to Barrie if necessary. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be done - Richard Arthur Dinning, born to George and Blanche on November 28th, 1943, was pronounced dead at Alliston Hospital. The man who has always been there for me throughout my life was gone.
I wish we could go for one more ride together; that I hadn't been so busy, and had made more time for you, Dad. I have a Fathers' Day card you'll never see, in which I wrote you a poem about how much you mean to me - we were going to bring it to dinner with you yesterday evening. I wish I could tell you that you were wrong to think of yourself as a man who tried to be a good father but muddled it up; you were the best Dad I could possibly imagine, and anything that's good in me is a direct result of the way you raised me. I'm so glad that you lived long enough for me to love and appreciate you for everything that you were, and to forgive you for the trivial things that you were not. I know how proud you are of me, and I wish I'd done more to justify the unfathomable depths of your pride and devotion. I'm lucky to have known you, let alone to be blessed with you as a father. Thank you for leaving me a lifetime of memories with you, and for giving me the gifts your knowledge, your care and your love.
I will miss your rich laugh, your horrible jokes, your crushing hugs and the smile you passed on to me. Most of all, I'll miss just knowing that you're there whenever I need you...but I know that even death couldn't stop you from loving me, and if you're anywhere at all, you're telling all the new friends you're making how proud you are of me.
Rest easy, ride free, and know that I will always love you, Dad.