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Tribute to Robert Lyle Price Morden by his daughter, Gwen, at his funeral on Nov 16/06
Dad, I’m awed by the many facets of you:
• musician (singer and player of guitar, banjo and mandolin),
• administrator (sitting on many church boards) and leader of many groups over the years
• author (of poetry and prose - and with a published book of your own – Border Bairns)
• puzzle-solver (with a gift for crosswords and Scrabble and beating me at Chinese Checkers)
• student (I recall us both doing homework at the table – me in an elementary grade and you completing your high school diploma because it was a goal that was important to you)
• adventurer (leaving your Manitoulin Island home at 18 to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, marrying an English woman you met as a pen pal, and traveling extensively throughout your life)
• continuous learner (you were always reading and gleaning new facts that you wowed us with at family get-togethers)
. . . the list is long and impressive.
So many personality traits come to mind, too, but one that stands out is your steadfastness. You were always there, rock-steady during the storms of life and a constant safe place during the good times. You offered wise counsel when asked, encouraged us when we were going through something difficult, reprimanded us when we needed to hear stern words. We always listened to you – didn’t always take your advice or appreciate your chastisement – but we always listened, because you had earned the right to our attention. We knew your words came from the heart of a man who loved us absolutely and would always be there for us.
As a child, I couldn’t have felt safer than I did when I was with you –
• whether we were whizzing down the toboggan hills of Downsview Dells on a cold-cheeked, crunchy winter night,
• or speeding down a steep Manitoulin Island gravel road so we could get a tickle in our tummy, you laughing manically all the way down while sunshine rushed in through the window and slid over our bare knees.
One year in Scotland, you covered my textbooks with such fancy covers that the other students were practically lining up to have theird done too! You encouraged my terrible ten-year-old attempts at poetry, helped with difficult school projects and during our years in Toronto, supervised in the kitchen on Saturday nights when Mom worked at Eaton’s, letting us think we were making dinner, while ensuring we didn’t accidentally set fire to anything!
You were a steadfast father, Dad, shaping us in ways that made us who we are today.
During my teen years, you taught me to expect a boy to treat me with respect and kindness. Several times you actually suggested quite strongly that the best thing to do was stay away from them altogether, but alas . . . this was advice I didn’t take. At fifteen, I went through a period where I wore your shirts around the house – knotted at the waist; it seemed the height of fashion to me at the time and you didn’t bat an eye at my sad lack of fashion sense. When I graduated from high school at 17 and immediately began working, you posted a room and board schedule on my bedroom door, complete with interest penalties for missed payment periods. Surprisingly, my immediate thought was not, “how delightful that Dad sees me as a fully functioning adult who should pay her own way!” I soon realized, however, that you were teaching me yet another life lesson – this one about managing money well -- and it has stood me in good stead my entire life.
You were a steadfast teacher, Dad, leaving us with life strategies that helped us to become better adults.
You loved to travel – whether a road trip with Mom an hour from home, or a trip “across the pond” as you put it, to track down relatives for your research in Scottish graveyards. Your love of new places and customs encouraged us to experience the same, and as a young woman, I spent extended time in Scotland, England and Texas as a result. And whenever I came home, there you were, full of hugs, grins and questions, offering me a place to stay for as long as I needed it. When I met and married Doug, you walked me down the aisle and let me go – with a bit of relief, I think -- but I always knew you were just a phone call or a visit away if I needed advice or a sounding board.
You were a steadfast port in the storm, Dad, offering safety while showing us a bigger world than the one seen through our bedroom windows.
I’m always proud when someone says I remind them of you – the way I speak, or enjoy meeting new people . . . or my smile. We shared common traits – a love for writing . . . and learning . . . for travel … and new experiences. Unfortunately, I never did learn to share your appreciation for the Toronto Maple Leafs – thankfully you had Andrew -- and especially Philip -- for that!
You outdid me with bravery, though -- giving blood every chance you got for so many years that you won Red Cross awards. It should have earned you the right to never have another needle stuck into you but as your cancer overtook your body, you had to endure many painful indignities. You suffered through a broken hip and arm, through chemo, through losing your home, normal family life, mobility and independence. You had to let others wash you and dress you, bathe you and walk you. You were brave to the end, though, moaning in pain but doing your best to not to let those around you see how awful it was because you didn’t want them to feel bad.
Even while suffering intolerable pain and a supreme loss of dignity, you remained courteous, kind, encouraging, engaged in the lives of those around you, appreciative of the small things done for you and above all, a man who reflected God’s humility and love to the end.
You taught us how to love / you showed us how to live And modeled, “It’s not what you get but rather what you give.”
Thank you, Dad, for giving your family the gift of a steadfast spirit and a love for the one true God who creates and holds each of us in his palm --from our first breath to our last. We love you, and will miss you every day here on earth -- while looking forward to hearing about all the new things you’ve learned, the wonderful people you’ve met and the amazing places you’ve been when we see you again in heaven.
William McGovern born in Etobicoke Township, 16th child of Daniel McGovern and Mary Doyle, both arrived from Ireland in 1832. They married 1837. Brother of Albert McGovern (William McGovern is vice principal of Maple Creek Public School. Part of the family moved to Port Coquitlam B.C. after W. W. II. Provided by Mary McGovern
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