Eight years ago on Thanksgiving Monday, October 11, 2004, my loving father Larry passed away on the 17th fairway at Burnaby Mountain Golf Course. Not a bad way to go, all things considered! Our family purchased a beautiful memorial bench with a plaque reading: “In loving memory of Larry Imoo. He will always be in our hearts and thoughts.” I take solace in the fact that every golfer who stops to pause at the bench will learn a small bit about my dad.
Usually on or near his death anniversary, we gather with my Mom and brother Jason (and his family) for dinner. This year was no exception, as we had Thanksgiving Dinner at our place on Sunday night. We shared a laugh and a tear over our shabu shabu meal…remembering just how much fun Dad was and all of his amazing qualities: his ability to not take himself too seriously, his unselfishness, and his knack for making everyone around him feel important and special.
I can’t believe that 8 years have passed already. I remember October 11, 2004 so vividly. How we had just returned from the pumpkin patch in anticipation of Halloween. How I was preparing to meet Mom and Dad at my in-laws for Thanksgiving Dinner. How the doorbell rang and how surprised I was to see Father Smith at my door. How he sat me down and how I innocently thought that he was going to confess something to me! How loving, caring, and respectful he was as he shared the horrific news. How I sat in total shock, not believing what I had just heard. How I broke down in passing the news on to my brother over the phone. And how heartbroken I was to find my mom weeping in her living room…the cops had beaten me to the house by a mere two minutes.
Not a day goes by without me thinking of Dad and/or praying for him. His picture adorns a wall in both our home and my office – a wonderful reminder of his good looks, warm smile, and snappy wardrobe. But more than pictures, I see Dad in Sean, Jake and Kayla. Sean has Dad’s athletic ability: when Jason and I were kids our friends would come over to see if my Dad was free to play with them…leaving Jason and me inside…haha. Jake has Dad’s charm and sense of humour: it’s hard to get mad at Jake just as it was hard to get upset with Dad (well…my mom might have something different to say about that). And Kayla has Dad’s playfulness. How I wish that Dad had the chance to meet Kayla; he would have loved her, spoiled her, and undoubtedly taught her how to golf…or at least retrieve his golf balls.
Some of my most vivid memories of my Dad revolve around sports. Dad always made time to play outside with us, watch sports on tv with us, or get whooped in video games by us. In fact, one of my favourite stories about my Dad is how Jason, Rich and I would rush home from UBC to play NHL 94 on the Sega Genesis. Dad would have the game all set up for us when we walked in the door, and within 2 minutes we were well into our game. But not before we would pick teams…or more accurately…find out who had to team with Dad. NHL 94 actually tracked winning percentages, and invariably the percentages usually looked something like this: Jason 70%, Clay 65%, Rich 60%, and Dad 5%. And sadly, I’m likely over-estimating Dad’s percentage. Anyway, the 3 younger guys would play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” with the loser having to team with Dad (and likely suffering a dent in his winning percentage). But in the spirit of fairness, you only had to play with Dad a maximum of 2 games in a row…if you lost the 3rd time we would re-draw. Needless to say, the games of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to determine the teams were often more intense and dramatic than the actual hockey game.
Yet another fond memory of mine was listening to Canucks games on CKNW 98 in the 1980s. Dad, Jason and I would lie on his bed and soak in the descriptive commentary of Jim Robson and Tom Larscheid. Jason and I would often fall asleep before the end of the game, but it didn’t matter: that time together was very special. To this day, I’m not sure what Mom would do for those 3 hours, as there was certainly no room for her on the bed!
It’s almost fitting that Dad did pass away on Thanksgiving…as there is so much to him that I am thankful for. Simply put, he was an amazing man who always put the needs of others ahead of his own. He was an awesome Dad, loving husband, faithful son, and playful grandfather. He was the undisputed leader of the Imoo family, and had a strength and courage about him that you couldn’t help but admire.
Thank you Dad for teaching me what it means to be a man.
Thank you Dad for showing me how to raise my children.
Thank you Dad for being my father, my friend, and my hero. I love you.