A Difficult Goodbye

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Rudolph Victor (“Rudy”) Diedrick
May 8, 1945 – October 22, 2016

If you’re a regular reader of Little House by the Ferry, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t been posting as often as I normally do. I’ve even missed a few weeks’ worth of Daily Photo postings. And while I gave it my best shot, I wasn’t able to complete NaBloPoMo. 

It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the blog. The truth is that on Saturday morning, October 22, my Dad, Rudy Diedrick, passed away.

Though he had an illness that we knew would ultimately be terminal, his death was sudden and unexpected and a terrible shock for our family. I flew to Vancouver Island that day, and spent the rest of 2016 there, helping my Mom as she adjusts to a new way of life.

It’s taken me a while to feel ready, but I wanted to share a bit about my Dad.

Though I generally write about my convoluted maternal Bahamian roots, the truth is that my father’s ancestry is equally fascinating.

My Dad was the great-great-grandson of Andreas Diedrich, a shoemaker who along with his wife Josepha Waechter, moved his family from Brakel, Germany to St. Ann, Jamaica in 1834.

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Rudy Diedrick, circa 1947

Born May 8, 1945 in Kingston, Jamaica, my father was one of the four rambunctious sons of Leslie Diedrick and Gladys Sasso.

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My grandmother, Gladys (Sasso) Diedrick, with her sons: L-R: Dad, Leslie (“Tuggie”), Donald and Claude.

As a teenager, Dad moved from Jamaica to Nassau, Bahamas to work and to live with his aunt and uncle, Norma and Stanley Sasso. There, he met Caroline Albury, a teenager whose Abaco roots ran deep. They married in 1965.

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December 23, 1965 – the wedding of Caroline Albury and Rudolph Diedrick. L-R: Janet Albury, Anita (Albury) McIntosh, Caroline, Rudolph, Swanee Curry and Edison Pinder.

With a guiding hand from my maternal grandfather, Lionel Albury – who no doubt wanted his daughter to marry someone with a promising career – my Dad entered the banking industry, accepting a job at Commonwealth Industrial Bank in Nassau.

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Commonwealth Bank Staff – my grandfather, Lionel Albury is third from right, and my Dad is far right.

My grandfather ribbed my father incessantly. Upon learning how much his future son-in-law could eat, he teasingly suggested that when my Dad visited, he should “come after breakfast, bring your own lunch, and leave before dinner.”

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Dad, Mom, R.J. and me – circa 1975

For years, Dad was an active member of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Nassau. People who knew him during the more than a decade he spent in the Bahamas recall his smile, his vibrant personality and the fact that he was the life of the party.

This won’t come as a surprise to those who knew him, but Dad was a big kid at heart. He would tease my brother and me and play jokes on us, like steering the car without hands (we were too enthralled by the “magic” to notice his knee guiding the wheel.)

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Out of twigs, sticks and palm fronds, he built a fort for us in the bushes behind our house. Weekends, we played badminton in the back yard. We’d swim, snorkel and let my Dad bury us up to our necks in the sand.

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Dad, R.J. and me, circa 1973

And long before selfies were a thing, my Dad would turn the camera around and snap photos of himself making faces, much to the amusement of my brother and me. A man before his time.

In 1977, my Dad accepted a job in Vancouver, B.C. with Commonwealth Bank’s parent company, Laurentide Finance.

Laurentide was later bought by the National Bank of Canada and as a result, my Dad worked his entire career without ever having to look for a job. (Which made it difficult for him to understand whenever my brother or I wanted to make a career move.)

In Canada, Dad continued his involvement with community service groups, joining the Rotary Club of Delta, B.C., the Delta Optimists and North Delta chapter of the Lions Club. For years, he studied at night to get a banking degree.

Winter was a huge novelty for those of us born and raised in the islands, and my Dad loved to take us tobogganing at Mt. Seymour and skating on Deer Lake whenever it got cold enough. Saturday evenings, we’d gather beside the fireplace and watch Hockey Night in Canada.

Dad and me, Mt. Seymour

Dad and me, tobogganing at Mt. Seymour

In the spring and summer, we camped, first in our giant wood-paneled station wagon, then in a tent trailer and finally in a fifth-wheeler at Pavillion Lake, just outside Cache Creek. We fished and took road trips through the interior of B.C., visiting water parks and buying gigantic Okanagan peaches and cherries from roadside stands.

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An afternoon’s catch at Pavillion Lake

For my Dad, there was only one way to do things – the right way. He insisted, for example, on teaching me to drive in a manual transmission vehicle. That way, he said I’d be able to drive any car, any time.

Though I’ve silently thanked him many times over the years, I didn’t necessarily appreciate his wisdom at the time.

Suffice it to say that I shed more than a few tears as I learned to balance clutch, brake and gas, and on more than one occasion, I stormed out of the car, threatening to walk the 10 or so miles home.

In later years, when I worked in a building nearby his office in downtown Vancouver, we’d meet regularly for lunch. At Kamei Royale for sushi. Every time. My Dad would order Lunchbox A. With extra pickled ginger. Every time. Like I said, there was only one way to do things.

My Dad was one of the most principled people I ever knew. I hope I’ve inherited some of that. I know that for better or worse, I’ve inherited his impatience and his inability to suffer fools, gladly or otherwise. (If you ask Tom, I’m sure he’ll show you his uncanny impression of my Dad’s “Are you a complete idiot?” face.)

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Mom and Dad’s first visit to L.A. – Christmas 2006

After a 40-year career in banking, my Dad retired in 2005. The next year, when Tom and I moved to Los Angeles, my folks drove down to visit us over Christmas.

On the way back to Canada, Mom and Dad detoured east to visit friends in Desert Hot Springs, California. They loved it so much that the following year, they bought their own little home there. For Tom and me, it was a treat to have them less than two hours away for the winter.

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Mom, Dad and Tom, “suffering” through a winter’s day in Quail Valley.

As always, my Dad was the life of the party, serving on various committees and helping to organize events within their community of Quail Valley.

Whenever we visited, there was always someone dropping in to make sure Rudy was coming to ping pong or poker or golf. Tom and I joked that just hearing the details of their packed social schedule exhausted us.

A year ago, Mom and Dad moved from the Vancouver suburbs to a community called Arbutus Ridge on Vancouver Island – a place that Tom and I soon came to refer to as Quail Valley North. In no time, they had settled in, joined various groups and made some dear friends.

That they were welcomed affectionately and generously by the community was evident in the numerous phone calls, the gigantic stack of cards and the many offers of all sorts of assistance that my Mom has received over the past few months. So many of those who’ve called and written recall my Dad’s big and jovial personality and his warm hugs.

Though my Dad had visited Green Turtle Cay during his years in the Bahamas, it had been decades since he’d been here. But during our wedding week in 2007, he fell in love with the island. And almost every May since, he and Mom met up with Tom and me on the cay to celebrate our anniversary and Tom’s birthday.

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Mom and Dad on the porch at Fish Hooks – May 2015

Dad was so happy for Tom and me when we bought Fish Hooks, and he and my Mom have been unfailingly supportive throughout the process. On May 8, 2015, during what would be Dad’s last visit to Green Turtle Cay, we celebrated his 70th birthday, with a number of family members flying in from Nassau to surprise him.

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Dad’s 70th birthday celebration on Green Turtle Cay – May 2015

Mom and Dad loved traveling, and as evidenced by the dozens of pins on the map in their basement office, they’ve been all over the world. But Green Turtle Cay was one of my Dad’s favourite places on the planet.

Everywhere I go on the cay, I’m reminded of him. When I take Wrigley to the South Beach, I can see my Dad on the porch at the South Beach Apartments, enjoying the breeze and his morning coffee. Watching Blue and Simon Jones clean fish on the dock, I remember how much Dad enjoyed Blue’s stories about the history of the cay.

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Dad and Wrigley at Coco Bay

The real estate listings in the Abaconian make me think of the many times he dragged us out in the golf cart, sometimes over rickety, nausea-inducing back roads, in search of some multi-million dollar vacation home he’d seen advertised. You know, just in case he won the lottery.

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Dad and Mom on Green Turtle Cay

The freight dock reminds me of a fun family fishing tournament we held during his last visit here. And I can’t pass Coco Bay without thinking of the many afternoon dips where we’d sit shoulder-deep in the shallows, enjoying the refreshing, cool water and watching the fish and rays drift by.

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Dad at his favourite beach, Coco Bay, on Green Turtle Cay

My Dad didn’t want a funeral service, and we’ve honoured his wishes. However, when my Mom’s up to it, we’ll celebrate his life the way he’d want us to – with a gathering on Green Turtle Cay and a dip in Coco Bay. Maybe we’ll even drive by and check out some million-dollar real estate listings. You know, just in case.

Dad and me - May 19, 2007

Dad and me – May 19, 2007

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23 thoughts on “A Difficult Goodbye

  1. Thank you for sharing the story of your dad’s life. He sounds like he was a great man and it is obvious a lot of those great qualities rubbed off on you. I know the loss of a parent as I lost my dad in 2004, the memories created during our childhood will be carried with us for many years. Even now I shed tears in memory and in loss. Hugs my friend.

  2. Thanks for sharing, love the photos I was thinking of you and your mom not long ago. Please tell her to stop in next time I would love to sit with her and see how she is doing.

  3. In my last trip to GTC while waiting for the ferry, I met this friendly good looking man and we chatted. He was very easy to converse with and then he said he was your dad! What a pleasure meeting him. Wish more like him. Very friendly and made one feel right at ease. Was lucky to have met him! 😊

  4. What a wonderful story about your Dad and family. Memories to treasure…. So very interesting to read about the folk that ended up spending much of their lives in the Bahamian out islands. My condolences on the loss of your Dad.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your father. Thank you for sharing such a personal insight. Did not realise you were related to the Sasso family. My sister and I were at school with Donnie and Arleen. In fact, Arleen lives in my neighbourhood..or did…I haven’t seen her for a while.

    My deepest sympathy to you and your family on your sad loss. Thank you again for sharing.

    Best wishes.

  6. Amanda, very sorry to hear of the passing of your dad. As someone who has lost both parents, I can appreciate how you feel. I lost my mother to cancer at a young age. I was 26, she 52. My dad lived into old age, got to enjoy his grandchildren, passed away at age 75. That was 20 years ago, I still miss them both. Life goes on.
    I note your dad was a Rotarian. I would have liked to meet him. I’ve been a member of the Abaco club for 30 years now; I intend to die a Rotarian.
    I enjoyed very much reading Those Who Stayed. Looking forward to the next heritage weekend, when we all can be together again. I am a lover of history, and of books in general, as you are also.

    all the best
    Reggie

  7. What a beautiful tribute! Your father sounds like a wonderful person. It must be very hard to let go, but I believe he will always be with you. When I first saw his picture I thought I knew him, but then I realized I had seen him in your eyes.

  8. We only met him briefly at the wedding but I know how much he meant to you. This article had me in tears….so beautifully written.

  9. My condolences, Amanda. It is so hard to lose a beloved parent. I love your post – brimming with heartwarming tales – and it made me smile. My Dad taught me to drive at Briland in an old mini because it had a stick shift. (So I would be prepared.) God bless them.

  10. What a nice tribute and beautiful memories of your dad, Amanda. Those memories will sustain you. I am so sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and your family. Tammi Lowe, a blog fan.

  11. That was beautiful Mandy. You described him perfectly. Always so jovial and fun to be around. Denis and I have so many great memories of those days spent with your Dad, Mom, Roy and Gail. We talk about them often. Sometime when you come to the Cay, we can get together. We live in Marsh Harbor now. It would be great to see you. We used to see Mom and Dad when they visited Hope Town with your Uncle Jeff. He never changed, always the same. Looking forward to seeing you one day soon. Love, Tipper.

  12. Amanda, I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. I know exactly how you feel—it’s been over a year since my dad passed and it seems like only yesterday. I forwarded your blog page to my mom (Eileen Diedrick), who enjoyed looking at the pictures, and has lots of memories of your dad and his brothers. We’d been talking last year (time flies so quickly!!!) about you coming up to Toronto, but I guess you weren’t able to make it. If you do plan to come up in the future, please remember to contact me so we can arrange to meet—my mom would love to see you again and I’d enjoy finally meeting you! In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  13. Thank you for the wonderful story. Green Turtle holds sweet memories for us as well. Your writing is beautiful and your dad would have been so delighted to read what you had to say about him. We are loving THOSE WHO STAYED. Thank you for that.
    So sorry for your loss,
    Henry and Gia Heitman.

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