My father's health isn't the greatest. He would kill me for sharing this news.
Ten years after retiring and moving to Kingston, my parents can no longer cope with the many stairs and massive yards of suburbia. They've sold their split-level and are moving into a condo.
My mother is looking forward to the move. It's not the home we grew up in and even though it's where my daughter really walked for the first time, it's not a place that's suffused with memories.
I spent this weekend with them in Kingston, the idea was to give them a little extra help around their house before the big move. My total contribution: changing the batteries in the smoke detectors and swapping out a central vac dust bag.
Despite being confined to a walker, my dad still won't let anyone do much of anything to lend a hand. He's of that generation, won't complain and won't ask for help.
It was -19 Celsius in Kingston on Saturday and my kids were going a little stir crazy. Tired of their toys, unable to really play outside, my mother finally suggested that I head into the crawl space and pull out some of my childhood toys for my kids to play with. Faster than the opposition opens the scoring on the Leafs, I was in their crawlspace under the stairs.
What I initially encountered strangely put a big smile on my face:
I say strangely as those are photos of a young Chris Chelios and Guy Carboneau wearing the blue, blanc et rouge along with a double page spread of Patrick Roy. They were cut out of a French language glossy and stapled to the drywall. Not the sort of thing that would usually bring a Leaf fan joy.
I couldn't find a date on them, but Chelios was traded by the Canadiens in 1989-90, so I'd guess they're about 20 years old.
Had I been a younger man, I might have taken them down or made up some excuse about the need for an exorcism; but for some reason, the discovery of these photos made me happy. Really happy.
It was like stumbling across an encoded message that could have come from any of our childhoods.
Near the door of the crawlspace was the following scrawl:
Yup, it says: "Pat Faloon cool" (one more "L" and the young author would have had the name right). I'm not sure if it should be "Pat Falloon is cool" or perhaps "Pat Falloon" was in itself a measure of coolness circa 1991.
Maybe it was the nostalgia of digging out decades old viewmasters, brio trains, and fisher price fire trucks; maybe it was knowing my parents left those old pictures untouched for the 10+ years they've lived in their house; or maybe it was knowing that's likely the last time I'll be in that space, but for some reason I felt the need to go and get my camera to take a few photos.
I hope whoever bought my parents' house preserves that little retreat under the stairs. That they leave up the photos and resist the urge to paint over the childhood "Pat Faloon" scrawl.
As I brought my old toys upstairs, toys that I haven't seen or played with in nearly 30 years, it was nice to think about that childhood love of hockey and to be reminded of the simpler times.
And in that spirit of long lost hockey memories, nostalgia and parents, here's a photo of my father and I from 1977:
That's one happy kid in a Leaf jersey right there. The type of kid that might find a hidden space tucked away in his house where he could put up a photo or two of his favourite Leafs and maybe even scrawl on the wall about the coolness of Trevor Johansson.