Me in my father's hat circa 1959.
He was a member of the R-C-M-P.
A Canadian mountie---one who was in the musical ride in the early 1950's.
For most of his career Dad worked in the Criminal Investigation Branch and people joked he knew The Criminal Code like the back of his hand. When he retired, my father started his own business as a "security consultant." Translate : private investigator. For almost thirty years, he worked cases the stuff fiction is made of: axe murders, fraud, missing persons, run around husbands and wives, cults, abductions, etc. He was chief investigator for the Miller Inquiry which revealed horrific stories of sexual abuse of boys from Kingsclear's Reformatory.
We didn't live in a big city like L.A., New York or Toronto. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada was my Dad's beat and home base. Fredericton : a city that looks, on the surface, like a place you'd see in a snow globe representing a perfect Victorian Christmas. Safe.
I'm trying to write a book with a character partially inspired by Dad's life and work. I started it nine years ago. Dad used to tease me that when he died, he'd give me his files. I'd laugh and go sure, sure, don't think writing pi fiction is my cuppa tea. Most of my father's files are shredded or sealed for another fifty years. Still, since his death over a year ago, I've asked myself is there some way to tell his story, bear witness to his life. Why?
Maybe I just want to keep him alive a bit longer. My father really was one of the good guys. And a good cop. He also knew there were bad cops and that the world was not black and white. Oh, and he recited poetry and loved that the Mounties made a bubble gum blowing appearance in There Were Monkeys ( not Mounties) in My Kitchen.
I was safe as a child. That means I was one of the lucky ones even though my father would not be able to protect me from things that would happen when I left our backyard.
I know that was one of his hardest challenges.
To let his own children go out into a world he knew was far from safe.
He never lost his spirit or faith. To know such darkness and keep hopeful. That still boggles my mind.
As a parent, one of my most humbling, terrifying, heart cracking realizations has been to let go and watch my sons on their tightrope journey.
Now I'm watching them come to those truths with their own children.
My question as I begin this new work :
What happens when we realize we cannot keep our children safe?
How do some people keep their hearts from becoming contaminated, their souls swallowed--- by the fears and darkness?
I think I'm going to need a heart helmet for this one.