My Dad, after enlisting in the British Army Corps of Engineers

R. A. Miller, born in Cuba in 1920 or thereabouts. There are no parish records.

A quiet, studious, serious boy. Orphaned before he was 10. Sent to live on the charity of relatives. Was kept out of school to work as a labourer.

Lied about his age to fight for the British Empire in Africa. He’d talk about the heat and flies, but not the friends who died beside him. The war destroyed much more than his innocence.

He was my mother’s Beloved. He tried, he really tried to be a husband and father. Without the compass of loving life experience, he had no emotional resilience. A machinist and failed farmer, he was cursed by the demons of silence and stoicism.

Although he deserted his family when I was twelve and my youngest brother was three, we never lost touch because of the magic of correspondence.

A sensitive, artistic man, a poet, a farmer, a lost soul. He loved books – that’s his legacy to his children. He began to die as soon as he stopped going to work every day. His body persisted long after his spirit had fled.

Died in Hamilton, Ontario, May 1, 2008. Palliative care is an oxymoron.

Rest in peace, Daddy. You were well and truly loved.