Today marks the ten year anniversary of my father’s passing. In July 2005 we visited Pelee Island for the first time and later that summer my dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Within a month, he was gone.
He never got to visit Pelee, though I’m sure he would have loved it. Part coastal, part farmland and perhaps in some ways reminiscent of his homeland of Sicily, I like to think he would have felt an instant connection to the Island. Always a farmer, I can almost picture him stopping to inspect the vineyards and endless fields of soy. In addition to farming forty acres, my father always planted a massive garden in our backyard and over the years I watched him cultivate countless fruit trees including, peach, plum, apricot, fig and even mulberry.
Mulberry trees grow like weeds on Pelee, the birds make sure of that. And so not remarkably, just after we bought our schoolhouse one began to grow next to the boys’ entrance. It reminds me of my dad and all the fruit trees he planted in his lifetime. It’s there that I feel closest to him. My dad may not have visited Pelee Island but yet I know he’s there.