Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Five Days, !3 hours. Parts of Calista

Where do I even begin describing my daughter.  Every father believes his girl is beautiful; what kind of father would a person be if he didn't. On the other hand, probably the first thing anyone said about that girl is "Oh my God she's beautiful". She really was physically beautiful. I remember one particular awkward moment when she was maybe 15; a local swim coach was watching her prepare for work-out in the early morning and he approached me and said "Please don't take this the wrong way, but your daughter really should go into acting or something like that, she is so uniquely beautiful".  And that is probably the best way to describe her; not flashy or Hollywood beautiful, but unique. Something in her genetics made her face especially almost flawless (OK, so maybe her nose was fairly, how shall I say, Romanesque).  I know that she caught the eye of many men and photographers over the years.

There is a family legend that one of my ancestors was from the Mic Mac Tribe of Nova Scotia. Certainly that would not be hard to believe; almost all of us have dark features, skin that tans in front of a strong light bulb, and prominent cheek bones. I know that my Cree friend Albert was sure "I was his brother of another mother". I doubt that since Albert was older than Noah and a full Cree elder. Certainly Calista looked very exotic.

There is an amusing story about Calista "on tour".  She visited Rome and Athens during Easter of her Grade 11 year. A young man and her visited the market in Athens and the sales staff all descend on them like the proverbial locust plague.  First they speak Greek to my poor Calista and she replies with the only line of Greek she had mastered: "I don't speak Greek". The staff then decide she must be Italian, so they try Italian, to which Calista replies, in Italian, "I don't speak Italian". She finally finds a pause in the conversation to pull out her passport showing she is Canadian. The sales staff then switch to halting English and for  the next half hour she has to repeatedly re-assure them that none of her ancestors are Greek. As she left the market the old crone at the till told her that she was indeed Greek but that she just did not know it. My girl certainly did have the look of the classical eastern Mediterranean.

On the other hand, I would never describe my girl as small. Perhaps the day she was born; she was three weeks early (a repeated theme throughout her life) and therefor only scored in the 50th percentile for new-born babies. From that moment on, she pretty much made up for that late start. One month out she scored in the 90th percentile and she never looked back.  Calista was best described as an Amazon. She constantly had trouble finding tops that would fit her shoulders and, frankly, brassieres were so hard to fit that she bought three at a time when she finally found something that was not way too small.  One clear memory I have of our last moments together is that I was looking up at her: I may be shrinking with age, but I still stand five foot nine and a bit. My girl had surpassed me.

There is no doubt that Calista was having a few issues with her weight during the last year, but she carried the extra weight beautifully. I would bet that Marilyn Munroe was heavier than my girl at the peak of her beauty reign (and much more generic in appearance). When her friends visited yesterday I had some hint as to why she was battling the bulge a bit. I guess her appetite for sweets and junk food was becoming legendary.  Funny thing, she always ate pretty healthy food when she was in front of me. The secrets our kids try to hide from us. Her friends laughed that they always made sure they ate properly before going over to Calista's apartment: she never had anything healthy to eat there and she was the world's worst cook. That second point I can whole heartedly agree with: the girl had trouble making boiled eggs.

When it came to athletics, Calista was a little peculiar. She never really excelled at anything, but damn could that girl train for everything. Until the last two months before she quit, Calista would train in the pool with her swim team like a fiend; often keeping up with swimmers far more talented than she ever would be. She left swimming and took up boxing (where the heck that came from, I don't have a clue). She selected her boxing club based on the training difficulty, not on the skills level. As far as I know she never actually stepped into the ring for anything but fun, but she loved her boxing. Her  most treaured photos from graduation were of her in her prom dress with competition boxing gloves laced up and in the ring of her last boxing club, Black and Blue Boxing of Regina. Crazy kid.

Once we moved to the west coast she abandoned boxing; the club here in Powell River was not organised enough or demanding enough for her. She turned instead to yoga of all things and crazy fitness routines at a local club "Coast Fitness".

I read a posting on her memorial wall last night from the owner of Coast Fitness. It absolutely brought me to my knees. She talked with glowing terms about how my girl always arrived early, stayed late and trained with zeal and dedication every session.  That it the girl everyone remembers: full on, full out, fully engaged.  The wave swallowed me up after that posting last night and I must have cried for an hour at the injustice of it all.

I will try to describe the most beautiful part of Calista tomorrow: her unique and independent soul. I don't know who gave her that spirit, but to lose that sort of person before they get their chance to shake up the world is a real injustice indeed.

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