Our father passed away in the early hours of September 11, 2021. Due to the challenges of hosting gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our mother made the decision to have a simple blessing at the Columbarium where our Father’s ashes will reside with just immediate family. Thus, there would be no opportunity for me to stand-up and say a few words about our father. So this Memorial gives me the chance for closure and to be at peace with his passing by telling you about our dad. Thank you for taking the time to read my memorial to our father. Here is his story…
Peter Tymko, was born at the Misericordia General Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta on January 4, 1937. He was the second son to his parents William and Blanca (Weber). Dad has one older brother, Walter. Dad spent his early years living on an acreage on the far north end of 50th Street in northeast Edmonton where he attended Poplar Lake School until the end of grade six. His family sold the acreage and moved to a farm near Ardrossan where Dad attended junior high school at Uncas. It was during these years growing up in Ardrossan that Dad played a lot of baseball – a sport he would continue playing in some fashion for the rest of his life. Dad attended Fort Saskatchewan High School but was only able to finish grade 11. Things on the farm were tough and he had to quit school and go to work to help his father with expenses on the farm.
Dad’s first job was with CN Rail working in the yards along 127 Avenue in Edmonton. Being a young, single man in 1954, he stayed at a place that supplied room and board. The lady of the house would make Dad a wiener sandwich everyday for lunch – which explains why he never liked hot dogs as an adult! Dad enjoyed working for CN and was about 146th from the bottom of the seniority list when rumors of layoffs at CN started to swirl. Being that far up the ladder, Dad thought he would be safe; however, CN laid off more than 150 people and he was out of a job.
The next job Dad got was in the parts department for Allis-Chalmers. After working there for three years, Dad asked for a raise to which the company told him no. So he left Allis-Chalmers and got a job with Sacker Electronics delivering parts. It was during Dad’s “parts” career that he met our mom, Josephine (Widynowski). Mom’s good friend, Virginia, wanted to go to Banff with her then boyfriend, Harry. But Virginia was not allowed to go without a chaperone. Harry had a buddy who had just bought a new car and wanted to go for the drive. Well, Harry’s buddy with the new car turned out to be Dad. Our father had just bought a white 1958 Chevrolet Impala off a friend because his friend had lost his licence and couldn’t drive the car anymore. Who knew that we owe our existence to some guy’s bad driving record! So Mom and Dad went with Virginia and Harry to “chaperone” them during their trip to Banff - Mom said it was like getting the fox to watch the hen house. It took about six more months for Mom and Dad to get together and in 1961 they got married.
The parts jobs were not cutting the mustard or paying the bills of a young married couple so Dad applied to the City of Edmonton for a number of positions. The City provided a good wage with benefits and a good pension, which is exactly what a young family needed. In 1962 Dad received a call for one of the positions that he applied for; as he had applied for so many spots, Dad wasn’t quite sure which job the person on the phone was offering him! It was to clean buses with Edmonton Transit. So he started working for the City of Edmonton cleaning buses on the night shift. To supplement his income our father drove a school bus for the Winnifred Stewart school as he now had a family to feed with the birth of their first child, their daughter Lesa, in 1964.
After five years as a bus cleaner Dad landed a position with the Inspection Center. That meant night shifts were over and a semblance of a normal family life could begin. But six months later the City of Edmonton shuttered the Inspection Center. All was not lost, though, since Edmonton Transit offered Dad an apprenticeship as a heavy-duty mechanic. He took the course through NAIT and then obtained his journeyman status. He was now working as a heavy-duty mechanic for Edmonton Transit. But with their second child’s birth, their son Dean, in 1967, they had another mouth to feed so Dad took on some part time work at Woodward’s Automotive as an auto mechanic. At Edmonton Transit our father was quickly promoted to a Supervisor role and with that came better pay; thus, having to work two jobs wasn’t necessary anymore and he stopped working at Woodward’s.
Dad continued his career with Edmonton Transit becoming a Foreman, an Equipment Supervisor, and ending his career looking after all the Transit garages and infrastructure - like bus stops and LRT platforms. He retired from Edmonton Transit in 1994 ending a career that spanned 32 years with the City of Edmonton.
Mom always made sure we went on a proper family vacation and over the years we did trailer camping, the World’s Fair in Spokane, a road trip to Disneyland, and spring break in Hawaii. In 1979 our parents bought a lake front cabin on Sandy Lake. A year later Dad brought home a Canaventure tri-hull, open bow boat with an 85 HP Evinrude engine. Our parents were persistent with me at getting up on water skis. It took two years, but once I made it, I was hooked. Dad later upgraded the boat with a 115 HP Evinrude after he and I learned to water ski. One of the fondest memories I have is counting the empty motor oil cans at the end of the summer. Each can represented five gallons of gas – and a lifetime of great memories. To this day, water skiing is one of my biggest passions.
After retirement, our parents sold their house in Edmonton and cabin on Sandy Lake and moved to Canmore, Alberta. In 2003 Mom and Dad made their final move to Calgary, residing in the neighborhood of Parkland. On August 12, 2021, Mom and Dad celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Now that you know a little more about our Dad’s life, I would like to share some of my memories with him. I will always remember and think of our Dad as an easygoing individual with a great sense of humor. He was always making jokes and using his quick wit to make people around him laugh. We always felt that we grew up with a great father who supported us in the things that we did. He would come to my high school football games and later to watch me play as an adult in Senior Men’s football. He loved cars and sports – passions that rubbed off on me at an early age and ones that I still have today.
I grew up thinking our Dad could do anything. He fixed all of our vehicles and boats, renovated houses, designed and built the cabin at the lake, and restored my 1979 Li’l Red Express Truck. The first two vehicles I ever bought, Dad test drove, and gave his seal of approval. He was a great ball player and once his kids were done high school Dad began playing Senior Men’s Slow Pitch. He played during his years in Edmonton, Canmore, and Calgary. After retirement, Mom and Dad bought a travel trailer to attend ball tournaments around Alberta. As a young boy I remember watching Dad play slow pitch at church picnics and thinking he was the best player out there.
He loved watching hockey and football. We watched a lot of games together and never missed a Grey Cup on TV when I was younger. Back in the 1970s he would take me to Edmonton Oiler games when they played in the WHA. We would be at home on a Saturday evening, just hanging out after supper, when he would ask, “Do you want to go to the hockey game?” We would hop in the car, always park in the same place, walk a few blocks to the Northlands Coliseum, and buy tickets at the door. He would often buy me a pennant as a souvenir. To this day, I still have all of my WHA pennants. He took me to see the 3rd Annual WHA All-Star game in Edmonton on January 21, 1975. The roster was a who’s who in hockey with Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull highlighting a star-studded cast line-up. He took me to Edmonton Eskimos games in Commonwealth Stadium and often would get tickets to the Western Final if he could. Those Western Final games could be pretty cold, but we bundled up and watched them drinking hot chocolate. Our father would take my sister and I to Edmonton Driller outdoor soccer and indoor soccer games when we were growing up. Another thing the three of us did was attend stock car races at Westwind Oval on the west side of Edmonton – we remember they had the best hamburgers! Lesa and I loved going to those races and we both grew up with a love of cars. There were so many sporting memories we had together; I was glad I was able to take our father to the 2009 Grey Cup in Calgary to return the favor of taking me to all of those games when I was young.
When I was in University Dad would whisk me away to the mountains for a couple days of downhill skiing. Neither him nor I were very good skiers but we thoroughly enjoyed our time together on our “boys” getaway. We would go during the week when I was finished my university classes. We would stay at the Chateau Jasper and ski Marmot Basin. One year we lived large and stayed at The Chateau Lake Louise and skied Lake Louise. An annual boy’s weekend is something that I now do with my son.
I would ask Dad about his youth and what it was like when he was growing up. He would tell me great stories of him and his favorite dog, Sport, a collie, who was one of their farm dogs. Dad’s first toy he ever received was a metal diecast model of a Greyhound bus. After prodding him for details about the style and vintage of bus, I bought him a new diecast model of the same style of Greyhound bus as a symbol of the first real toy he ever received as a young boy; it will be a keepsake that I will pass onto my son one day. One more story sticks out for me – a story my son, Alex, tells on occasion. During his older school years Dad was bullied by another boy. This kid was always picking on him so one day Dad hid under the stairs. The staircase was an open design with no backs behind the steps. Our father waited until the kid was coming down the steps, and then reached out from behind the stairway and tripped the boy as he was descending. Needless to say, the kid tumbled down the stairs to the bottom of the landing. Boy, did Dad get hell for that – but he was never bothered by the kid again.
Lesa worked her whole career in the airline industry and would get great travel deals for our parents. One of the trips the three of them took was to the Barbados where the three of them had a great time. I remember hearing stories of the night that the three of them partied in a local bar, Dad drinking rum and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Mom recounts the story of how worried she was on the cab ride back to their hotel. The taxi went through some pretty sketchy parts of the island and Mom didn’t know what she would do if something happened along the way. They made it back safely and all was good. They had booked a catamaran trip the next day to see the island from the water; needless to say, that boat trip was a little tough for Dad as he was a bit hungover from the previous night’s festivities and the movement of the boat caused him to turn a pretty shade of green.
A couple of memories my sister has of Dad involved water skiing. Dad couldn't swim well but he was determined to get up on water skis - and he did, we were so happy for him. During his first run on water skis he fell and stated waving his arms, so we waved back, happy that he made it up and thinking he was waving because he was happy and proud that he had learned to water ski. As we approached him in the water, we soon realized that the waves of happiness were flails of panic, since he did not know how to swim and had not learned to trust the life jacket yet. We quickly got to him once we saw he was panicking but he had realized the life jacket would hold him up, so he calmed down. After that first run, he never worried again and continued to water ski. Another water ski adventure occurred years later at my own cottage in Ontario when Lesa, her husband Don, Mom, and Dad were visiting. Dad went water skiing and this time when he fell, he looked like a swamp monster as he was covered in weeds!
Lesa remembers Mom sharing stories of Dad taking her with him when she was young to run errands or go to the store. Mom says the two of them would come back arguing about something and there would be words flying around: “I am not going with him anymore!” “I am not taking her anymore!” The very next day Dad would be off somewhere and ask, “Lesa, do you want to come with me?” And off the two of them would go like two peas in a pod - the argument would never last!
Lesa remembers learning to drive with Dad. They would practice in shopping mall parking lots after hours and out on back country roads. Once she became a competent driver, she would pester him with, “Can I drive now?” and he would let her. I remember having to bug Dad to take me out driving so I could get some seat time before my formal driving lessons. Dad was a good teacher and very patient. Although he would get a little excited when I drove too close to the parked cars along the side of the road! The second we could get our licence we both did, thanks Dad.
I could go on and on about great memories and stories of our father, but I will close with one last memory. In grade two my teacher asked the class to write down who their hero was. We were then to stand up, tell the class who our hero was and why. So I wrote my answer down and waited. After a while the teacher started calling on us one by one. Kids stood up and gave answers like, “Superman”, “Batman”, and the like. I remember feeling a little uneasy because most everyone’s answers were similar in nature. I was starting to think that maybe I missed the point of the exercise. Well it finally came to my turn so I stood up at my desk and confirmed with the teacher that our hero could be anyone. She said, “Yes, your hero is whoever you feel it is” and then she then asked me who my hero was to which I told the class, “My hero is my dad.”
If I am half as good a father to my son as our father was to us, my son will be a lucky man. Dad, you will always be my hero. And although you are gone, I feel you are a part of me and will be with me wherever I go and in whatever I do.
We are thankful that we had you in our lives for as long as we did and have so many great memories to share with each other, you will always be loved! Thank you for being the greatest father we could have ever asked for.
Love with all my heart, your son,
Forever in my heart, your daughter,
Cremation has taken place and a small private ceremony will be celebrated at Eternal Springs Columbarium at St. Michael Catholic Community in Calgary.
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