As I start this article at the beginning of the year and the second half of the hockey season, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! As always, this time of year everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions. Each year I really try and keep mine but I don’t do very well. By February I’m eating chips and dip like it’s a food group and including “Happy Hour” in my daily routine. I’m hoping this year I’ll be better. This year my resolution has nothing to do with exercise, food or daily meditation before I hit the rink (although I might have to rethink this one.) This year I want to try very hard to make the people around me smile. I know, I know, it sounds simple enough, but after the sudden death of one of our own hockey Dad’s who always kept everyone smiling, it feels very fitting. I believe strongly that whether he knew it or not, this was his daily resolution and I can say with total certainty he succeeded.
His name was Peter and we spent so many afternoons at the rink with him and his wife Vicki. He had two daughters and a son who played hockey on my son’s team. He owned his own business so he was always the team sponsor. His wife was the team manager for many years. They were the kind of couple that never stood on the sidelines. If they were going to be involved in something, they were all in. My son spent many nights at their place with their son Matt. He played centre, had an infectious smile like his Dad and he always kept his teammates laughing. My son loved staying at their house because they’d swim in the pool in the summertime, and skate in the winter. He would always comment that Peter was a “cool” Dad.
Peter was the kind of guy that liked everyone around him to have fun. His smile was infectious and he had a big personality that lit up the room. I remember being at a hockey tournament trying desperately to keep my daughter entertained. I tried to make her feel included so I suggested she make cookies for the team but to her devastation she burnt them. I tried to tell her they weren’t that bad as we put them on a plate trying to hide the burnt bottoms. It didn’t take long before one of the boys made fun of her charred creations and it ruined her night. Peter saw what happened so he walked over to her plate of cookies and proceeded to eat one. He ate that cookie like it was the best thing he’d ever tasted. He looked at my daughter and said, “There’s nothing better than burnt cookies after a day at the rink!” With that, her smile became infectious. Seeing that smile encouraged him to eat the whole plate and with every bite he reminded her how burnt chocolate chip cookies are the best. As I said before, he loved to see those around him smile, no matter what the sacrifice.
A week before he passed away I happen to run into him. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. It’s a meeting I will be forever thankful for. He was working on a new charitable initiative for the community. I hugged him and we started into the normal chatter of “What’s new?” “What are the kids doing now?” etc. It didn’t take long before the conversation turned to our hockey days. It literally took us seconds to laugh about the memories we made with our kids. It was just one week later when my son told me that Peter had died suddenly in his sleep. I was in total shock. The first thing I thought of was of him sitting next to my daughter eating her burnt cookies with a huge smile on his face and an even bigger one on hers.
I know you are all heading into the second part of the hockey season. I know it’s the time of year when you’re all thinking about playoffs. Benches are getting shortened, tempers are flaring and stress is getting high. We had many of those moments over the years. I’m sure we had many of them with Peter, but I will tell you, these were not the things we talked about when we ran into each other. In honour of Peter, I wanted to write this to share with you what we remembered when we had the opportunity to look back. We talked about the kids, burnt cookies, and great tournaments. Most importantly as we talked about the hockey memories, we smiled.
I hope you have a great second half to your season, I hope your team does well, but if not, I hope you enjoy the people around you. In honour of Peter, make a New Year’s resolution to make those around you smile because at the end of the day that’s what you’ll remember.
- Written by Allyson Tufts