My Da' would have been 95 on March 18, had he not smoked and drank too much and made nutritionally bad choices; had he not led a sedentary lifestyle, seated in the easy chair, cursing at the high school students and flipping his empty cigarette packages into the fireplace.
He couldn't climb the stairs from the basement without sitting down to catch his breath.
Don't get me wrong, I loved my dad, and wish he could've lived beyond his 60 years.
He wasn't born into the kind of fitness-oriented culture in which we find ourselves. Rare was a jogger in those days, and gyms outside of schools were few and far between.
After he retired, early, he sat in that damn chair and watched television (he would have loved the remote control; I or my brother was his remote control) and took the odd walk behind the lawn mower or in front of the colour party in the Remembrance Day parade.
He was in the war, with the Irish regiment, so I guess he earned his leisure, and there was no telling him otherwise: no university-educated smartass was going to give him advice on how to lead his life.
I often feel the same way, as an adult, when I am confronted with admonitions about diet and exercise and alcohol. Whether these well-meaning proselytes are right or not - and they quite often are - I'm at the point in my life where I'm not really going to change unless my liver fails, or my heart, and even then, these lifelong habits are hard to leave.
So it is I buy the four-pack of Guinness lager - the medicinal beer that feeds the Irish and built the Lions Gate Bridge - and I have a couple on St. Patrick's Day and a couple more the next day to celebrate my father's birthday.
Ordinarily, I might repair to a local pub and have a couple with the celebrants ("I'm one-16th Irish on my mother's side"), but this year, as it turns out, I am to exercise another passion: the women's softball team I have helped coach for the past decade or so - Les Encore - is having its first practice of the year, and I will be there to share my vast knowledge of the game and throw the ball around with some of these young women who continue to show up in spite of their young men and their jobs and their schooling.
My dad was a great supporter during the 25 to 30 years I played the game, from playing catch in the backyard to sitting in the outfield in the car, leaning on the horn whenever we made a good play.
I love going to the ball park. It is a special place, to sit on a wooden bleacher, eat a hotdog, drink a soda, and make astute remarks about the quality of the play and the umpiring.
It is a simple, working-class game that can be played just about anywhere.
It takes me back, makes me feel younger, gets me out of the easy chair.
I spent last week watching the Canadian men's curling championship, the Brier, played in Edmonton; and before you go screaming out of the room, I'm not going to get into a big comparison between curling and hockey, as I usually do. Just let me say that, even though Canadians excel at this sport on an international level, it just can't get any respect.
I wake up with the radio turned to CBC and watch the Global Morning Show with breakfast, and in neither case do they mention the Brier.
As if to make me even angrier, they fill their space with a clip from a hockey fight where everyone is mocking the absence of the fighting skills of one of the combatants, a Russian!
Happy St. Pat's, Don Cherry. Happy Birthday, Dad.