Saturday, 6 October 2012

Four Months, Three Weeks: Eight Simple Rules.

  1. Use your hands on my daughter and you'll lose them after.
  2. You make her cry, I make you cry.
  3. Safe sex is a myth. Anything you try will be hazardous to your health.
  4. Bring her home late, there's no next date.
  5. If you pull into my driveway and honk, you better be dropping off a package because you're sure not picking anything up (Alternative rule #5: Only delivery men honk. Dates ring the doorbell. Once.)
  6. No complaining while you're waiting for her. If you're bored, change my oil.
  7. If your pants hang off your hips, I'll gladly secure them with my staple gun.
  8. Dates must be in crowded public places. You want romance? Read a book.
from the Wikipedia entry on the old sitcom "Eight Simple Rules" starring John Ritter.

I hope this week's journal entry will be more humour, most of it at my own expense. If you ever watched the "sitcom" called "Eight Simple Rules", my fatherly parenting skills were somewhat akin to a cross between the ineffective John Ritter and a scrawny Chuck Norris. The boys all thought I was tough like Chuck and my daughter knew I was pretty much useless like John as far as disciplining her.  She was my princess and if she was happy, so was I.  It didn't stop me from tormenting the odd boy whilst he skulked in our doorway, waiting for Calista to make her grand entrance.

I am expecting a visit from the honourable Jared this evening. I have not seen him since the evening of her memorial and I have heard from him only once this long summer.  I am told by Debbie, his mother, that the two paragraph note I received from him via Facebook in early August was quite wordy for him.  I guess Jared tends to be quite private. I hope to get to know him a bit better this evening; I never really got a chance before between Calista protecting him from me and then the move to Powell River.  There are just so many flowers that were cut down before they bloomed; anyone my daughter loved was probably pretty special. Its a terrible thing for a relationship to be cut short like that.

That is the prescient Emily bringing up the rear, looking relaxed
as Balance-Beam Barby inches her way across the log.

One of Calista's close friends from college contacted me late last night, once again by Facebook. I actually knew Emily before I ever met her; she was the good soul who "texted" Calista the day she died, concerned because the absolutely dependable Calista was missing class for the first and only time. We found that text hidden away on Calista's phone when we retrieved it from the RCMP evidence locker. We also found an iPhone video of all the girls, including the prescient Emily, having fun playing a video game that involved bad dancing. None of the girls should quit their day jobs and audition in Vegas, but they sure knew how to laugh and have fun.  Between the note Emily sent me and the very heartfelt note that she left on Calista's Facebook wall yesterday, it seems that the scars of her death extend well outside of the immediate family.  Everyone that knew Calista loved her and those that didn't love her didn't really know her. (We all miss you honey, it's time to come home!)

Boyfriends and dating is always a sensitive topic for fathers. I would love to say it is due to our fine, upstanding morals and protective nature, but I would be lying. The reason father's hate boyfriends so vehemently is because we all remember well what we were like when we were "the boyfriend".  I can absolutely guarantee that when dealing with boys, the last thing on their mind is any concern for their girlfriend's intelligence or opinions. Unless it involves sex, a boy is pretty much apathetic about "girl stuff". Truthfully, many boys would be just as happy to skip all the friendship pleasantries, including fairly important things like names, birth dates, and interests, and just skip to the physical basics.  I personally admit that there were several girls I dated along the way that I never bothered learning their full name even after going out for a morning-after breakfast.  Boys, especially teen aged boys, are all bad dogs and a girl is best to assume that until the boy proves differently ( Even then, I believe most boys are merely faking sincerity in hopes of future sex. A rolled up newspaper or a firm baseball bat should be kept handy for disciplining most teen aged boys.).

The first boy I remember Calista showing any interest in was a young man I nicknamed "The Magnificent Andre".  For most of grade 7 and grade 8 Roni and I heard so many tales of Andre from our clearly star-struck daughter that we half expected to see a Hollywood star with angel's wings once we finally met him.  I must admit I was a little disappointed when Andre finally graced our doorstep and I had to look down...way down before my eyes finally met the top of his head.  I hope that boy has grown some since that time, because if he hasn't he is still going to be shopping in the junior section of Walmart. On the other hand, Andre certainly did have beautiful golden locks; his hair was reminiscent of the big-hair rockers of the eighties. Kind of a miniature version of David Lee Roth.  It was no surprise to learn that Andre fashioned himself a musician; he played the part. At one school social function, Andre regaled all his grade 8 class with the famous guitar riff from "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple . I am pretty sure that was all he had for skills though. Calista always did love the musicians regardless if they were any good or not.

Andre is the first boyfriend (and maybe the only one) that I actually scared off.  He turned up at the door one blustery fall afternoon asking if Calista was available to "go to the park". I didn't mean to be "scary", I just thought it would be funny to tell the little guy that he had to go at least one round with me bare-knuckle boxing to date my daughter.  I am not sure which part of that statement scared him away; the part about fighting with the 200 pound man or the fact I referred his request for my daughter's company as "a date".  All I know is that I never saw Andre at our door again. If he ever came by the house again, it was not when I was around. I can't say I feel all that guilty though; she was all of 12 years old at the time and he was a musician, after all (someone tell me why the first riff every guitar player attempts is from "Smoke on the Water?).

In later years, after Calista had gone to Leboldus while the rest of her friends ended up at the much closer Miller High School, I used to see Andre with his latest girl-friend in the local park.  I'm glad I scared him off now because that boy was not shy about inappropriate public displays of affection.  At least now I know that "going to the park" with Andre did not mean a pastoral walk through the trees and over the grass.

I guess I was being a little optimistic or hopelessly naive, but I hoped that, after leaving Andre behind when Calista transferred into Leboldus, in the far south of Regina, I would get a respite from boys and moody teen aged daughters.  I am not sure what I was thinking of; I guess every father hopes he will never see his little girl holding hands or hugging a drooling, knuckle dragging teen-aged boy.  I believe Calista managed to take the summer and maybe the first month of school off from the subject of boys.

Since Martin Leboldus Catholic High School was about six blocks from the clinic at which I worked during those years, I always dropped off Calista first thing in the morning on my way to the clinic.  It worked out really well and actually established a life-long habit for Calista; arrive early and use that extra time for home work and preparation. Calista had all sorts of short-comings when it came to academics, but lack of work-ethic was not one of them. Throughout the warm days of September that year Calista was frequently greeted at the door by a tall clumsy-looking boy. I saw the same boy shadowing her on the few occasions I could pick her up after school. By early October I had to ask Roni who the boy was and if Calista was dating him or something. The reply was "He's Patrick and yes, I think they might be dating. Calista says he's really funny". Oh great I thought, from musicians to stand-up comedians. And it had to be Patrick, of all the boys.

Patrick was not unknown to Roni and I.  By the time Calista was in high school she had been competitively swimming since she was seven and Patrick had been on both teams she had trained with. Patrick was one of those kids that everyone knows; quite vocal and not always in a good way.  We had watched the boy grow from a round-faced, cherubic kid who could be frequently found whining at his coach's side to a six foot clumsy colt, all legs and arms who actually showed great future potential.  I tended to remember the pouty whiner while Roni saw the potential. Calista just saw the class-clown. I just never considered Patrick anyone she would date; they had practically grown up together so I just assumed that familiarity would breed contempt.

For the next ten months or so, Patrick was a regular visitor to my house and Calista was over at his house just as often or more so.  Typical of that age, the dating was awkward and a very quiet affair; it's pretty hard to get too hot and heavy when dad is either waiting outside in the car or just around the corner in the next room, chomping at the bit to either pick one young lady up or evacuate one young man home. There were very few classic dates involving anything like dinner and a movie; at fifteen everything has to be economy class or "dutch" if the relationship is going to work at all. The majority of the young couple's socialising was done at school (under the supervision of the strict catholic teachers) or at swim practise (where coach made sure the only heavy breathing was due to hard training).

she took her swimming seriously in those days

The one great advantage of Calista dating Patrick is that she actually took her competitive swimming seriously for a change.  Patrick was actually a talented swimmer with lots of potential. His long arms, big hands and big feet, combined with good stamina and an excellent work ethic meant that he could eventually hope to make national championships and maybe more. Long gone were the days of Patrick the whiner and everyone could see that we might see Patrick the winner eventually. Very soon after starting to date Patrick, Calista started to adopt his work-ethic and train with passion. And it showed. Very quickly Calista hardened in, slimmed down considerably and saw her training times plummet.  She soon found herself training with the senior swimmers, including Patrick, and doing sets and sessions she could only dream of months earlier. I was warming to the idea of Calista dating Patrick.  That should have been my first hint that things were going to soon go sour on everyone.

summer camp while she still cared
There always was some friction with Patrick's mother over my daughter. His mother never warmed to the idea of Calista being part of her son's life. I like to think it was just a mother watching out for her little boy, but truthfully, I believe this was a case of the "sins of the father" being visited on my Calista.  Roni and I had never quite gelled with Pat's mom; we butted heads on just about ever subject and things had pretty much degenerated to "fragile polite" and silence on both sides by the time Pat and Calista were an item. Relations did not improve much after that. While I doubt that Calista would ever stop seeing a boy simply because their collective parents could not agree on the time (daylight savings versus Greenwich Standard; that's a Saskatchewan dig if you don't know it already), but I doubt our obvious animosity helped things when Pat and Calista  finally started growing apart. I know I was cheering for a break-up the entire time, even if I actually liked Patrick.

The final and permanent schism came in early August.  Roni and I suspected the relationship was on the rocks for weeks as Calista ducked calls and made faces when she couldn't duck the call. And, of course, there was the constant flow of text-messages between Calista, Patrick and Calista's best friend Danielle.  I finally came right out and asked her what the scoop was while driving her over to Danielle's house for the afternoon. She said that she and Patrick were "done" and she had told him exactly that yesterday.  I paused, thought about it, and asked when the hell she had seen Patrick to break up with him. She rolled her eyes and told me she had "texted" him.  I think my face went crimson and I had to actually pull over I was so angry. I fumed for a couple of minutes, counted to ten twice, and then, as peacefully as I could, asked why the hell had she done that? Well, I guess, because she said so, that was the only alternative. It seems Patrick was going on vacation right away and she wanted to make a clean break of it before he left.  I just looked at her and asked how she felt about ruining his summer vacation by giving him the axe suddenly right before he left. She shrugged and rolled her eyes, on the verge of tears (the absolute silver bullet for an angry father).  I counted to ten twice again and, with little else safe to say about it, just told her in no uncertain terms that she was never to send a boy to the curb by "texting" again (or e-mail for that matter; now I would have to add Facebook too).  It was never an issue again, but I suspect only because Calista's dating record was so short.

Oh, I don't kid myself. My daughter knew she
caught the eyes of many admirers. Even way
back then.

Now I have to admit the absolute truth here; I knew what was going to happen next.  I actually tried a preemptive strike before the war of the roses started, but the heart wants what the heart wants. You see, over that last couple of months Calista was seeing Patrick, I had noticed one of Patrick's close friends paying a lot of attention to Calista and she seemed more than willing to receive that attention.  I hoped by forbidding her to date anyone on her swim team I would cut that little avenue off with huge cement traffic blocks.
 Silly man, what the hell was I thinking of?
 My wife actually had already arranged a date for Calista with the boy in question; it seems Calista wanted to go to the annual fair down at the exhibition grounds and Roni thought she needed a male companion for security.  All I could think of was that my wife had just put the fox in charge of the hen house. Damn.

Ok, so she wasn't shy. She was oblivious
to her admirers.
The next boy to grace my dinner table is an example that proves that good intentions will be forgotten if things end badly. And things ended very badly on this one; it soured both my opinion of boys who date my daughter and my daughter's opinion of boys in general. 

Since you are not supposed to say anything if you can't say something nice about a person, I am going to make this little tale about some imaginary boyfriend who shared my dinner table, the welcome of my home, spent over a year trying to get in my daughter's pants and then spent another year making her life miserable because she chose to keep her pants right where they belonged.  Did I say teen-aged boys are all bad dogs?

Roni and I knew the newest cling-on from early childhood as well. Again, the boy, let's call him "Bubba" for simplicity, was a member of the close-knit competitive swimming community in Regina and had competed with Calista for years. I never had much good to say about "Bubba"; he came across as a arrogant, smart-ass jock type. Even after starting to date Calista he never did much to change my opinion of him. Certainly he was charming when he wanted something and no doubt he was handsome, if you liked that blond athletic Adonis type. Unfortunately he also knew he was handsome and charming and tended to take  all the liberties that afforded him. Calista was besotted with him from the first and by mid-September I had been relieved of most of my chauffeur duties because Bubba was marking his turf by picking her up after school every day.

"Bubba" became such a fixture around our home that I started to wonder if he had a home of his own. I never aspired to have a son, but for that year I certainly did learn the expenses of feeding a teen-aged boy. That kid had a healthy appetite; there were rarely any left-overs in the fridge anymore. Bubba did seem to treat Calista well and I started to warm up to him. There were even a few comic moments that can only happen when you have a beautiful but naive daughter and a suspicious mind.

By the time Calista was turning 15, she was all about photography. I decided that I was finally going to get her a decent digital camera for Christmas and I did my research and found a relatively expensive little Panasonic point-and-shoot that would fit the bill. Needless to say, it was "the best present ever" and Calista immediately took to carrying that camera absolutely everywhere. This is where her naturally trusting nature got her in trouble. The camera was stolen from her locker at the pool during swim practise, along with her wallet, her cell phone and all her cheap costume jewelry. She learnt the hard way that you should only trust yourself and assume everyone else wants something from you.

The day the camera went missing I was home on an afternoon off. It was late January, and I was puttering around in the basement when Calista arrived home with Bubba in tow.  All I heard was the front door opening and a broken "Daddy" bubbling between sobs of sorrow.  I ran upstairs and found Calista at the front door, school bag on her shoulder, swim bag tossed on the floor, winter boots half off. Her eyes were red-rimmed and puffy, she was crying so hard that she was having trouble catching her breath.  She could not speak a coherent sentence for many minutes.  Finally, Bubba, standing behind her, head bowed and shifting nervously from foot to foot, as nervous as a mouse in a cattery, speaks up and asks her if she wanted him to break the news.  The blood drained from my face and I am pretty sure my body went numb.

Put yourself in my place. You have a beautiful fifteen year old daughter who is hot and heavy with a seventeen year old boy with his own car and she stands before you crying uncontrollably as the boy paces behind her nervously. There are just a few things going through a father's mind at that point and some of them end with a shotgun wedding or just a shotgun blast. Thank goodness for Calista's quick recovery when she saw her poor old dad going into shock.

Finally, between sobs, she blurted out "MY CAMERA WAS STOLEN!". I caught my breath, laughed and gave her a big hug. "Honey, stop crying. It's no big deal. It's just "stuff" and we can always replace stuff".  I'm not sure what she thought I was going to do. The loss of the stupid cell phone and the wallet were bigger issues; those things had abuse potential if someone got hold of your I.D. or abused your cell phone.  The camera could be replaced in a day and everything would be right with her world again.

 Bubba did not come away from the incident unscathed though: I turned to him almost reflexively and said "Jeez you are lucky this time. For a second I thought I was going to have to kill you". He never quite forgave me that statement and I am pretty sure he kept an eye on me at all times whenever he was over in case I decided homicide was the best idea for the day.

Later I heard from one of Calista's friends how upset she was with my reaction to her blubbering.  I thought I had scored "daddy points" by keeping my cool over the camera theft. What I had actually done, I guess, is infer my daughter was "a slut" by making a much worse assumption. What can I say; I was a teen-aged boy once and I know what goes on in steamy cars. On the other hand, I also knew my daughter so I should have known better.

I replaced that camera the very next day. I tried to keep the incident hidden from Roni, but she noticed the $500 dollar Visa bill for Don's Photo which came a few weeks later.  Roni was not quite so forgiving as I  and for many months after she rode Calista hard about leaving the camera at home. I was not so upset about the whole thing and I felt that the whole concept of a purse-sized point-and-shoot was that she could pursue her hobby spontaneously. That same camera, well used by now, was in Calista's purse when we picked it up from the RCMP evidence locker. I just used it this week to take some photos of sunrise over Comox.

In retrospect, Roni and I indulged Calista's romance with Bubba far too much. Much of what followed was as much our fault as it was the fault of teenage raging hormones.

 We had set up kind of a private little den for Calista down in the basement so she could have her "own space" at home to entertain friends. We had an old couch and some comfortable chairs arrayed around an old second hand TV. Calista would retire to the basement with her beau whenever he came over for dinner and we just trusted our girl to set some proper boundaries for behaviour under our roof.  And that is where the beginning of the friction between Bubba and her started. It turns out we really could trust her to set boundaries, but not so much Bubba.

Throughout the spring and early summer Roni noticed that Calista became progressively less interested in retreating to the basement for privacy. She preferred to share her movies with dear old mom and dad, forcing Bubba to perch sullenly on the couch, his hands safely in his lap or carefully draped across her shoulders. The unspoken complaint was clear on his face and there was no doubt that there was growing friction between the two love-birds. It did not help that one of the girls on the swim team, an old friend of Calista's, was obviously throwing herself at Bubba. Ten-dollar Tijuana prostitutes are less obvious than that girl was. Calista remained very loyal to the young horn-dog, even to the point of wanting him to come along on our family vacation and participate in her Tom Johnson Swim Camp with her. Roni and I reluctantly agreed to this. It was our second major mistake in young romance.

The family trip was far from being a bonding experience. I am not sure what "Bubba" thought was going to happen, but surely to God he never expected to get bed privileges with my daughter while on a G-rated family excursion.  Throughout the trip the boy seemed to get progressively more sullen despite the fact Roni and I were treating him like he was already family. I tried to attribute the moodiness to simple homesick blues, but that was hard to swallow since Bubba was a nearly grown man of eighteen by this time.  I had left home at eighteen myself, so I just assumed all eighteen year old boys were men by that time. Roni thought there might be something else going on altogether; he was not getting his share of private time with Calista. I thought nothing of it and Roni was absolutely not sympathetic to his grievance. By the time we arrived back in Regina two weeks later conversations with Bubba had degenerated to one syllable grunting.

The couple broke up about two weeks later.  We never knew who broke up with whom or why, but to this day Roni believes Calista was being pressured to give "it" up and finally pushed back. She got the impression that Bubba dumped Calista and somehow expected her to just relent and give in to his lusts.  He obviously did not know my Calista anywhere near well enough.  Calista was nothing if not rigid once she had made a resolution. All the pouting and moaning in the world was not about to get her to spread her legs for anyone. The relationship should have ended there. It didn't.

Hey, Jack-ass: this is what you threw away
just because you could not wait. And then you
bullied her for nearly a year while everyone
looked the other way.
Once Calista returned to training with the swim club, the atmosphere was completely different from the past. Girls she had been pals with for nearly a decade snubbed her, gossipping behind her back. The entire male contingent of the swim team were overtly hostile, falling just short of physical abuse.  There appeared to be a cadre of four boys who consistently tormented her at every turn, all obviously under the direction of Bubba. The old girlfriend of Calista's which had shown such interest in Bubba through the spring had now taken her place at Bubba's side.  Calista was completely fine with that, but she was not prepared to deal with the locker room whispers and snippy comments which had replaced the friendly banter of the past. Foul, insulting e-mails appeared on Calista's computer and there appeared to be a constant stream of nasty little text-messages on her phone.  Calista had one  openly gay friend with whom she would spend the odd evening out shopping or at the movies; the boy would receive threatening texts on his phone while the two were out together.  The entire situation was vile. No girl would stand up under this sort of barrage for long; Calista lasted nearly six months before she broke.

I attended many of her training sessions and the bullying was far from covert. I could see exactly what was happening and I spoke up about it several times.  I guess I was being a bit naive in my hopes that her gutless coach would step-up and put an end to the tormenting. Bubba was one of the coach's star swimmers and Calista (an emotional wreck by this time) was quickly becoming a liability to the team.  It did not help that the usually polite Patrick had joined in on the feeding frenzy; he was clearly the "star" of the team and the coach was not about to upset his boat to support some young trollop. The coach repeatedly denied any bullying was going on under his nose, though I am pretty sure the three monkeys of justice (hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil) would have spotted that shark pack. It eventually came to a head in March; Calista came to us after yet another barrage of text-attacks and tearfully demanded to be taken out of swimming. I immediately agreed on the provision that she replace swimming with some form of organised physical activity immediately. The relief in her eyes was obvious; she was glad to be shut of these horrid people that had been her closest friends for nearly a decade. How sad is that?

Beauty and brawn. We actually have
three pairs of practically new boxing
gloves now, two of them pink.
She took up boxing  not more than a month later.

After Calista had quit swimming and was out of the reach of the obviously biased coach and her ex-team mates, I sent a nasty note to the swim team executive.  I basically told them that if my daughter received even one more threatening e-mail or text-message or if I even got a hint that one of the swim team had spoken to her about anything I would be contacting a lawyer and I would end up owning the team. I saw that gutless coach several times in public after that; the big brave man dropped his eyes and turned away each time. I didn't flinch.

Patrick approached me two years later and begged forgiveness.  I told him he was a bigger man the moment he apologised, but he needed to apologise directly to Calista.  I think Patrick and Calista eventually smoothed things over.  His mother was one of the first people to send condolences when Calista died. Bubba never made amends and he always turned away if I saw him in public. Coward.

Adam and her on graduation day.

After the whole "Bubba" experience, Calista swore off boys altogether, much to my relief. There were a few dates along the way but they never amounted to much. Adam, a close friend of Calista's since kindergarten, escorted her to the graduation ceremonies.  Adam and her never were anything more than friends, but he was a really good friend. There are pictures of those two together at school enjoying a cooking class together (Adam cooked, Calista took 
advantage of his cooking and they both received good marks in the class) and at various historical sights throughout Italy and Greece on their grade 12 European trip. He was a real gentleman as an escort and I think she might have passed up on a keeper by overlooking that boy.  But, by that time she wasn't looking.
 Adam, her big buddy in Greece.

I believe over a year passed without Roni and I having to suffer through an uncomfortable dinner hosting a nervous boy who might want to court my daughter. Sometime in the fall, maybe November, I started hearing about this Jared boy who seemed to share a lot of interests with Calista.  She spent quite a bit of time over at his apartment watching some cheesy horror show called "Supernatural" (I notice she has all the seasons on DVD stashed in the collection in her room).  I repeatedly asked Roni if this Jared was a "boyfriend" or just a boy who was friendly.  Roni told me that Calista was firm about the fact they were just working on a friendship, nothing more. I reserved judgement. I knew it was just a matter of time before we were hosting a "meet the parents" pizza night. The boy was a musician for goodness sake and Calista had always been sweet on musicians.

I finally met Jared in the early spring. My first impression was that he was a tall, good looking kid who desperately needed to put some meat on his bones. And he was quiet; really quiet. As a couple, the two made a pretty good pair. They seemed to be in tune with each other; there were very few discussions and there never appeared to be any conflict. Roni and I hoped that the lack of conflict didn't mean that Jared was just letting Calista have everything her own way. Calista could be a little forceful from time to time, maybe even a little bossy, and she already had Daddy-dearest to jump at her every whim. I now know, from Jared's parents, that I need not have any fears that Calista was bullying Jared. Those two just seemed to get along that well.

One occasion illustrates how apathetic I had become about Calista's romantic interests.  One evening weeks after I had met Jared for the first time, I dropped into Calista's boxing club to watch her train and shoot the breeze with Roland, her much beloved boxing coach (it didn't hurt that he was handsome and had a unique and very foreign accent). I watched my girl spar with a couple of the regulars; they were careful not to hit and she was careful to make them pay for their courtesy.  After a few rounds she stepped out of the ring and a tall, gangly looking guy stepped in and squared off against her former opponent. The new fighter showed some promise despite being skinny like a rail and all arms and legs. He slipped punches easily, kept his guard well in place, and took all the right chances at scoring.  I pointed out the fighter to Calista and told her that of all the fighters present he was the only one who showed any real potential.

"Who is he anyway?" I asked "I haven't seen him here before".

 "That's Jared, Dad!" came the offended reply.

In all fairness, Jared was wearing full head gear, I had no idea he was boxing with Calista, and it was completely out of context.  At least that's my story and I am running with it.

Jared and the Princess

After I moved out to Powell River, the writing was on the wall. Time was ticking down for Jared and Calista; the likelihood of them maintaining a long distance affair at their age was so remote as to be laughable.  The plan had always been that Calista was going to stay behind in Regina and finish her contractual commitments with LifeTouch Photography and then follow Roni and I out to the coast once she was free.  Calista settled in with her Godmother Sherry and spent all her free time with Jared. Sherry would call us frequently with updates, making it very clear she thought it was  very sad that Roni and I were splitting up the obviously compatible couple. They were just so cute together she said, half accusing us of being home wreckers. We had to remind Sherry a couple of times that it was Calista who wanted to move west and we were just going out ahead of her to establish a home base at Powell River. Besides,it was not like Powell River was the end of the earth; Comox had direct flights from Regina daily and Jared could visit anytime.

Eventually Calista did move west to live with us and the star-crossed lovers were left trying to manage a long distance affair.  Every call, text-message and e-mail (and a couple of Skype sessions that were labelled "lame") brought more frustration to my darling daughter and by the time Jared finally visited she was definitely having mixed feelings about the whole situation. Jared's visit in the late winter of 2011 was a little uncomfortable for everyone and the silence around the house after he finally went home was deafening. Calista camped out in her room for a couple of days after and I was cut out of the loop altogether. I am pretty much sure that every member of the male species was the enemy right about then. It was Roni that informed me that the two of them had decided that 1800 kilometres and two provinces was just too far to keep things going at their age.  I thought that decision was incredibly mature at the time, but in retrospect I realise now that it was a poor decision for them. They really were a good couple and had things turned out differently, they probably would have made it.

A memorial tattoo on Jared's arm done less than
a week after she left us.

I never heard about Jared much after that. I understood Calista still kept in touch with him; they exchanged e-mail and the odd call, but I didn't think much was going on.  Calista showed no interest in dating, even when she was on her own over in Comox, but then she was busy, immersed in her photography program. Since her death, I have had many blanks filled in about the entire situation and I now agree with Sherry; it was a very sad thing that Calista and Jared were split up.  It seems that all her friends over in Courtenay had an intimate knowledge of Jared; Calista talked about him constantly and nearly went nuclear every time he even suggested he had been out with another girl.  She kept all this from Roni and me, but then I saw the stuffed giraffe that Jared had given her as she left Regina sitting right next to her bed in her apartment.  It was the only one of her hundreds of stuffed toys she took with her to Courtenay,  so I knew that the door was never closed on Jared. That's something really: Calista was quite good at closing doors on boys so Jared must have been quite special to hold her attention despite the geographic challenge.

I sat down and had a beer and a burger with the honourable Jared this week.  I saw the good, decent and thoughtful young man my daughter cared so much for and I truly believe that Jared was one of the people she held in her heart as she walked through whatever door we pass when we leave this earth.  So many people have been scarred by her death, but while Roni and I will never completely heal, I hope that everyone else, Jared especially, can move forward, strengthened by having known my daughter rather than weakened by her loss.

One of her great loves: Hermes, the red-devil.
Kitty kisses from a cabbage-patch kitten.

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