“Little Warden’s back,”
says Dad, shuffling across the kitchen with his wrists and ankles shackled together with imaginary chains.
Taking a break from The Godfather, Dad asks if I want to walk the dogs with him. Crisscrossing the field, I tell him the plans I’ve already told him several times today.
“The big house?”
He says when I differentiate the house from the barn.
“That’s what gangsters call a prison.”
For the most part, I take after Mum, the Warden, and not only in dark colouring and big teeth. Raised with her British sensibilities, I know my p’s and q’s, I give up seats to the elderly, I thank the bus driver.
Growing up, I was a popular girl’s sidekick. Happy and easy and eager to please, I was a natural employee, not destined for management.
“I’m a stubborn man, you know Katie.”
Dad says on another night outside in the same field.
“I think you’ve got a bit of it in you.”
His elbow in my side, he says and then laughs,
“We’re not nasty about it.”
As I get older, my father’s traits are becoming more obvious. Besides the loud laughter, warped sense of humour, and frightening sneezes, I am inflexible when it comes to the values I live by. Sometimes, this is my downfall but it’s also what holds me together.
“I’m not a hard ass like you are.”
Says Lynn, my fiancé.
Uncertain if I should be insulted, I ask for specifics.
“You plough through resistance.”
I’m still ploughing.
“I hate wasting good scotch on a woman.”
Dad says, as I pour myself a glass.
Business or pleasure, I’ve always wanted to play in the Boys’ leagues. However, as a teenager, I always found myself a potential but unlikely star on the Girl’s ‘B’ team.
On the bus, while others pull out cell phones and novels, I open a library book on leadership, management, and organizational tips, researching the skills I need to move forward.
In my community, I see Dad’s former business partners and their sons who have been trained from the ground up. Families that have formed successful companies that provide for all of their needs. If my brother hadn’t got sick, he would’ve been trained for the takeover, but because my sister and I were girls, we weren’t.
“She’s the only woman he’d shut up and listen to.”
Dad says, telling me about a more chauvinistic man than him and a rare, respected woman foreman in the Victoria construction business.
Truth is, authority as a woman has been difficult for me and not just with men. In my experience, when a man leads, respect isn’t resented to the same degree. I can’t prove it but if my brother were here and capable, he wouldn’t have faced this much adversity.
“You got bigger cohones than me, girl.”
Said Nicol the night I told a sixty something redneck hunter with a beer gut, calloused hands and a gun collection the size of Fort Knox that he was no longer welcome in our home, going back a second time to assert that meant he had to leave right then.
“Not a bent nail leaves the property without me knowing about it.”
I said to the dusty labourer friend of a friend I busted scavenging for free supplies on the farm.
“Your relationship with my father doesn’t involve me. Please do not contact me again.”
I replied to one of Dad’s friends and her persistently disapproving comments.
“I hope Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency next time around.”
“I bet she’d show up that little shit of a husband of hers.”
The only time in history that Dad is hoping for a Democrat to lead the USA, it’s a woman.
He’s proud of the work she’s done.
And he’s proud of me too.