What follows is the eulogy that the five of dad’s children contributed to. It was delivered by my sister Wendy Michon at the service held at the Colborne Legion Br. 187 on Monday July 31st.
Don May was the fourth child of John and Lillian May. Lillian May was the direct descendant of Issac Ireland, who settled in Burnley, north of Warkworth in 1803. This area later became known as ‘Little Ireland.
When Dad turned 18 he did what thousands of young Canadians were doing at that time. He joined up to fight Hitler. He enlisted in the Irish Regiment of Canada and was part of the Signals Platoon attached to Headquarters Company. He was part of a group who proudly called themselves “The D-Day Dodgers”. After landing in Italy, he would eventually see action in France, Belgium, Holland and, just after the German surrender, they entered Germany.
In our early years, Dad didn’t talk much about his war experiences and some of us didn’t know until our teens that our father was a veteran. One of the rare stories he did tell about his time in action, was the time he and a buddy were pinned down on a ridge by a sniper. All dad could do was hit the dirt, get his head down and pray. After the sniper had been taken out, his buddy told him that he saw bullets hitting all around dad’s prone body and couldn’t believe he hadn’t been wounded. With experiences like that, it isn’t surprising that he held the deep faith that he did through his life.
In latter years Dad became a ‘reluctant legionnaire” when my sister Patti told him he had to join so she could join â€” Patti sometimes tells white lies. As she become more involved and he learned more about what a legion is, his interest in the legion grew. About 12 years ago, at the request of his granddaughter Megan, he joined a group of veterans in a presentation to young students about Remembrance Day. He has been a valued part of those presentations every year since. The Legion was something Patti and Dad shared and she remembers with great fondness the proud look on her father’s face the night she was presented with her life membership.
With the $200 that Dad received when he got out of the army, Dad bought a car. One day Mom and her younger sister Beat were walking to the beach. Mom didn’t know it, but her sister had her thumb out for a ride. Dad stopped and picked them up. Mom sat in the front with Dad and from all accounts, it was love at first sight.. Dad drove them to the beach and asked her for a date. The rest is history.
Mom and Dad went on to have five children — maybe more oops than planned — but we arrived regardless. Of course like most growing families there were moves. They started out in Toynville, then to that â€œdamned” unfinished house in Whitby (inside joke.. .sorry Mom), on to Orono, and then they bought a general store in Castleton with a house in the back (which was coincidentally 10 minutes south of Warkworth), and finally retired in a house outside of Lakefield after selling the store.
Dad had a love of cars and he instilled this love of cars in his eldest son, Steve. He (and Mom) also had some major influence in Steve learning how to drive.. For instance, there was one lead-footed day when Steve and his friend pulled in the drive and parked, and went in the garage to talk to Dad. Five minutes later the police pulled up the drive with lights flashing. Dad met them in the driveway and they told Dad that they had been following Steve’s car for speeding. Dad replied that they couldn’t have been too close behind, because they’ve been here a while and have already gone to bed!
He was a good Dad. Dad could easily have been, almost been, a nurse because nothing seemed to gross him out. Blood, throw-up, infected sores, you name it, nothing fazed him. I know my little sister Lynn probably doesn’t want to hear this now, but I remember for a fact that changing diapers was included in this. And I remember the day I cut my toe hoeing the garden. Dad immediately jumped into action, cleaned up the cut, reached into the medicine chest, accidentally grabbed the ointment for removing sleepy dirt from your eyes and gave the cut a generous dose. Worked like a charm!!
When you were sick Dad would stand on his head if you asked him to. So jumping into Super Dad mode to fly out faster than a speeding bullet for your upset stomach was a given for Dad. No doubt about it, for a man who never seemed to be sick a day in his life — he was certainly always right there to look after you when you were!
Yup….Dad was always there….whether you wanted him to be or not. For instance, I know Norm recalls a time, when Dad’s presence wasn’t enthusiastically appreciated. It was the time, when he was around 16, he came home one night drunk. Snuck past Mom and Dad, using the “duck into the washroom and then down the hall to your room” parent avoidance plan and got into bed. Of course the bed would not stay still and seemed to develop a nauseating tilt to it. Dad came in for a friendly visit, and Norm heard him coming, grabbed a book and pretended to be reading it. He might have pulled it off too, had it not been for the fact he was holding the book .. .upside down.
But you know, Dad didn’t just look out for his family. He also looked after our house too… For instance, I remember one day falling down and skinning my knee on the front sidewalk. After checking my knee, he turned his attention to the sidewalk. “Hey” he said, “You didn’t crack that sidewalk did you?”
Dad truly was a jack of all trades. He could give your car a great body and paint job, renovate the house, do the plumbing, do the electrical work, build the sidewalks, fix the appliances, put clothes on the line, cook a meal, build furniture and bathe babies.
It would be just wrong for me not to mention that in Dad’s retirement he also developed recipes for not only great coconut tarts but the ultimate pecan pie. All I can say is I sure hope he wrote it down, because I’m not going back to Campbell River without it!
As Mom became sicker with cancer Dad did a great job looking after her. Mom often told me how thoughtful and sweet Dad was during this time. I think this also helped to heal a few of the tears in the fabric of their marriage, that can occur over the span of 50 years and five kids. (Especially the five kids!!) He did everything for her he possibly could, and looked after her in their home right up to the last 2 days of her life — until he could do no more.
Now Dad is with Mom. This is where Dad always wanted to be. Well except for maybe when Mom was in a bad mood. Anyway, I find this a comforting thought and I’m sure the rest of my family does as well. For Mom’s sake though, there is just one big question niggling at me. Do people still snore in heaven??