Monday, June 18, 2012

The best man I've ever known

..is my Dad.



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.

18 comments:

  1. Wonderful tribute to your dad. I can only hope I am as much of an influence on my child as your dad was to you.
    Thanks for the write-up. I am saddened to have never met such a great man.
    Mark

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  2. I can only hope that after my last breath has been drawn that I will be remebered and looked fondly upon half as well as you do your dad. We wish you strength and courage in these difficult days.
    Cat & Heidi

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  3. I have made note of his name, K, and I will speak it every year.

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  4. K your daddy was a genuine bad ass. A loving father is a rare gift and I am so glad he was your dad because he helped mold you into the fantastic person you are now.

    Lots of love

    Tibbs

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  5. What a beautiful tribute to your father. The tears a flowing from my eyes knowing the loss you must feel right now. But you said it... he passed doing what he loved to do the best. Feeling the freedom than can only be known to another who rides on two wheels.
    Rest in Peace and enjoy the freedom Richard!

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  6. Bob Reiff, Mason, OhioJune 20, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    WOW!!! My eyes are misty after reading that. All parents should be so fortunate to have LOVE like that expressed so eloquently.

    When I saw the new member registration on both forums I suspected from the ID that it might be you and then was overjoyed that it WAS you when I read the message. I will miss your Dad so much. Sometimes it seemed he was here in the room conversing with me about all sorts of motorcycle things. We even got Skype going a couple times so we could see each other. Many, many people world wide benefited from your Dad's freely shared knowledge. He was admired by virtually everyone in our shared world of motorcycles.

    I would be there in Mississauga in a minute if my lack of a passport wouldn't stop me. I will be there in spirit and will be praying for all your family. Give your Mom a hug for me.

    Bob Reiff
    Mason, Ohio

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  7. Tears are flowing as I write this. I didn't know your father, but I share with him, and you, not only the love of scooters and motorcycles, but the care and consideration that both of you obviously shared with each other and your families.

    I lost my mom and dad in 1996 (breast cancer) and 2004 (congenital brain disorder), and I know the pain of losing one's parents early in life. My mom was only 55, and my father, 69.

    I am a fairly new member of the online groups for the Burgman 650 Exec., and have done more reading than posting; Still, the posts your father made, either to help a newbie (like me) with a quick 'welcome to the club' or a detailed post on some not-so-obscure or related-to-safety issue, I looked forward to seeing his byline because I knew I would be reading something of worth, something of value.

    It is sad to lose him at such an early age--the same as my father. I can only hope that he will be guiding the inexperienced of us along to better things from another place. Not so much a 'better' place--better that he could be here--but one in which can be seen from a higher perspective, all the foibles and successes of his fellow humans--all the more able to 'send a thought down from above' to brighten up another's day...especially if they're broken down on two wheels.

    I shall be listening for that gentle suggestion on the wind as I ride...oh yes, I'm originally from northern lower Michigan...and shall also await the feeling of it coming off of Lake Huron on a cool, windy summer day (it's always cool on the Lakes, as you know. (As an aside, My father, who was President of the Cheboygan, Michigan Yacht Club before he passed on, also loved the water, and most of my fondest memories are of when it was just the two of us out on his 32-foot Marinette on Lake Huron.

    In Most Deeply and Heartfelt Condolences,
    Mr. Stephen A. Brown
    Jefferson City, Missouri

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  8. So sorry to hear the news about Richard, K. We never met, but exchanged lots of information via the Burgman yahoo list. The above eulogy is a great and very moving tribute to your dad; I really can't imagine a better written one and having read it, it's hard to imagine a better father. Well done.
    I'm sure Richard is looking upon it proudly from above! RIP.
    Paul Blez, London, UK.

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  9. A beautiful tribute. I never met Richard, only having known him through exchanges with the Toronto Motor Scooter Club. I offer my heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

    Bridget

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  10. I had the good fortune to meet Richard in New Holland Pa a couple of years ago. Your right he was a wonderful person and a wealth of knowledge.... He will certainly be missed....

    Jim Ciolek
    Greenwood De.

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  11. As sit here with tears streaming down my face and have just finished reading the tribute you wrote for your father... I never met Richard, and knew only of the man who wrote and rode a Burgman 650... I own one my self,,, Blue also,,, and we have lost a man who will be missed for years to come...
    Your grief will be shared by thousands who walk in spirit beside you... When you see a Blue Burgman 650 traveling down the road,,, your smile and thoughts will be felt by your father...

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  12. Incredible... a beautiful tribute!

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  13. I just heard the news from Sue Payment, so I have missed the funeral. Too bad.
    On behalf of Hélène and Bernard Pilotte and myself Christine, our sincerest condolances on Richard's passing.
    I still remember the days when Richard was young- He played the trumpet and David the violin at my grandmother Alma's house. Such a rucous we all made! The best is that he was able to live out his dreams, a very full lfe indeed.
    Best of luck to all of you who remain. The healing will take some time.

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  14. What a beautiful tribute!I sit here and cry! What wonderful memories you have! Rest in piece dear friend!
    Suzanna

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  15. Rory Fox, Brampton Motorcycle AssociationJune 22, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Richard Dinning was a long-standing member of the Brampton Motorcycle Association, and a very active one. Richard could always be counted on to participate in every event - in fact, we can only think of one general meeting that Richard missed! And you know he could always be counted on to voice an opinion!
    Richard's loyalties ran wide, and he always talked about the Scooter club and the different internet groups that he frequented, talking about his beloved Burgman. He was definitely a "Mad Bastard" - scooter types will know what I am referencing!
    Upon reading your tribute, the first thought that came to me was,"Richard, I hardly knew ye" It makes me think of how little we know of each other, and I wish I had known Richard well enough to know of all the things he meant to you. He was certainly a big part of our motorcycling lives, but whether a lifestyle or merely a hobby, there is so much more than motorcycling that makes a person who they are.
    I meant to tell you, Richard, that I had a parking spot ready for you at the Toy Ride this year, real close up! I think I'll keep it free for you anyway, so feel free to turn up if you like, it'll be there for you.
    I know I speak for all members of the Brampton Motorcycle Association, when I say Richard Dinning will be missed - It is said that a person dies twice - once when the heart stops beating, and again when they are forgotten - but Richard will live on in our hearts, never having to die a second time.
    Rest in Peace, Richard - we will remember you.
    Rory Fox, BMA

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  16. Losing a parent is never easy. Sorry for your loss.

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  17. I feel I know him from reading your tribute.
    You are a great kid with a wonderful father.
    I'll thank you for him.

    Dave White
    Kingston, ON
    SV 650 rider

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  18. Thanks of sharing your thoughts about your wonderful father. I have had the pleasure of working with your parents over the past 12 years. Your dad was a kind soul who will be deeply missed. He always talked glowingly about his wonderful daughter. Now I know why. Your dad is part of who you are and will always be with you.

    Regards,

    Rob McClelland

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Go on, have at me!