Today would have been his birthday. Fifty-four years ago, I became an auntie for the first time when my nephew Peter was born. And last month, on May 28th, Peter suddenly passed away.
I saw quite a bit of Peter when he was a little boy, and took great delight in the antics of he and his brother - playing with them, learning to skate with them, reading them stories.
|Playing with my nephews many years ago|
I seldom saw him during his teen and young adult years, due partly to geographic distance, but my sister filled me in on his activities and whereabouts, and every now and then we touched base at family events.
|A teenage Peter with his dog|
|Peter and I dancing at a family event, 2005|
In recent years, however, and especially since the death of my sister in 2011, we both made far greater effort to keep in touch and to strengthen the ties that bind our dwindling family. It was Peter and his family who took me boating in the Salish Sea near my home summer before last, who shared meals with me on their boat and a day exploring my home turf last summer.
|Peter on his boat, visiting his favourite (okay, his only) aunt on Vancouver Island.|
I last saw Peter just over a month ago at another family event, where we had a lovely conversation about his daughter's accomplishments, and his and his wife's hopes and plans for the future. He was a content and dedicated family man, married to his amazing wife for almost 24 years, and a most exceptional dad to a fifteen year old daughter, my great niece Kaia.
Peter was Kaia's primary caregiver, a 'stay-at-home dad' for lack of a better term. He was the one whose job it was to supervise her, to chauffeur her, to listen to her, to mentor her, to plan and cook her meals (and what a great cook he was!), to do her laundry, to be her guide and to support and celebrate her passions.
|Peter dancing with his daughter, 2005|
Kaia is accomplished in the performing arts, and spends many hours a day in dance and vocal training at the Caulfield School Of Dance, while doing most of her academic schooling online. This weekend is the School's year end performances "Connected" at the Terry Fox Theatre in Port Coquitlam BC. And the final performance, this evening, is being dedicated by the dance school to Peter, with a special performance by past and current members in his honor, and a solo by Kaia dedicated to the dad she will miss so very much.
And so, yesterday morning when I captured this photo of a heron taking flight, I could think of no more fitting image for this tribute to Peter, for the heron seemed to be dancing, feet pointed downward, wingtips fluttering gracefully, like his beautiful daughter and her dance company as they send him soaring to the heavens tonight. As you look at it once again, please think of the fifteen year old young woman giving what may well be the most difficult performance of her life, and the dad for whom she grieves.
We'll miss you, Peter.