Sunday, June 10, 2007
My Father's Strength
He was born Benjamin Warrick Patey,On April 23, 1945 in Main Brook, Newfoundland. Born in a remote northern forestry village to a long line of Newfoundlanders. Annie and William Patey were his parents, he had an older sister and eventually seven more siblings to follow.
My dad is a man of strength. Physical strength, emotional strength and a perseverance beyond belief. In getting to know my Newfie heritage and particularly my Patey relatives, I believe I understand where some of this strength has come from.
There is a reason Newfoundland is called "the rock". When it comes to cultivation, it truly is an unforgiving land. The beauty of the ocean that surrounds it has also been the livelihood of so many for generations and generations. The sea provided food, a means of earning a living, a mode of transportation. The sea was relied on to bring many necessary resources that were not developed in Newfoundland at that time...it truly was their life.
This same ocean could turn without notice, and become a challenge, a foe, a source of shipwreck and devastation.
It took a hardy people to not only survive, but thrive in such a challenging environment. A people of fortitude and strength. A people committed to their land, their community, and one another. The Patey line is just such a family. They learned to work hard because nothing came easy....but they also learned to play hard and live life to the fullest.
They could make something from nothing and there was always room around the table for another face. To this day, all are welcome in a Newfoundlander's home, and no matter when your last meal was, there is food that must be shared. The Patey's, though now spread mostly throughout the "mainland"...carry that strength of hospitality with them.
My Father has worked hard all of his life. He is extremely resourceful and has continued to make something from nothing throughout his life. Life didn't come easy to my dad, but he could never be called a quitter. If he was knocked down, he would get up and get back to work. In my Father's life time, he has been trained as a teacher, a Naval meteorologist, a banker, and an accountant. He has owned and operated a Christian book store...and in his "spare time", chopped lumber in order to pay for private school and braces for me during my last 2 years of high school.
My Father has a heritage with a very strong sense of family....I have watched as an adult, as the Aunts and Uncles would pool resources repeatedly for one who had a greater need. No one does without if there is a way to meet a need.
There is a "Patey Pride" that is joked about....but only among the Pateys. If another were to draw attention to this characteristic in any light that was not favorable....there would be a rallying of Patey's to defend the name.
There is a perseverance that my dad inherited when it comes to belief. Whatever a Patey believes as truth, there is no mountain of proof on this earth that will convince them otherwise. This is a wonderful trait....when it is TRUTH that they believe!!!
My Father was a rock in our family when turmoil would come, when emotions would run high...you never had to guess how dad would react. There was always a steadfastness to his personality that was unshakable. My dad and my other Patey relatives are much like the land that they all still call home. The waves can come and beat year after year, and there is truly a rock like strength that is immovable.
When a hard day's work is done, there is always a "kitchen party" to be had. It might be a game of cards with friends, a "Newfie Jig" with neighbors....or as will be our case this July, a family reunion to reacquaint and to catch up.
My Father's older sister turns 65, so between 80 and 90 of us "Patey's" will converge on cottage country North of Toronto. It will be the party of all parties as the generations come together. There will be laughter, music, food by the truck load, some dancing of jigs, telling of tales and at night always a campfire....with a cast iron pot of my Aunt May's baked beans which will have simmered for the bulk of the day. Many family members I have not seen in years....some since I was a teenager. Yet one Patey strength can be counted on....every single person there will be made to feel as if they are home.
Being born a Patey, I must admit, there is a trait or two that I have yet to cultivate towards Godliness,(Mark might say stubbornness is one)....but I am very thankful for my heritage from the rock....for my father's strength.