Yes, we were both drunk. It was the only time that he and I were ever drunk together.
I don't remember what brought my dad to Ottawa on Canada Day, in 1995, nor do I remember why I chose to invite him to party with me, downtown, on the day before my first wedding anniversary.
The assistant manager to the Inniskillin wine boutique had held the second annual Canada Day party in the wine store, which was across the street from Parliament Hill, on Metcalfe Street. He had held the first party on the previous Canada Day, and that party turned into an impromptu, second stag for me.
I got very drunk on that day, too.
I wouldn't say that my relationship with my dad was estranged—not at that point, anyway. But it was a strange relationship. In 1995, he was trying to build our relationship to something bigger than it was, always telling whoever cared to listen about how my sisters and I meant the world to him, that there was nothing that he wouldn't do for us.
Except, be around for us when we were growing up, or when we needed him.
He would always have harsh words for the British—the "Bloody Chirps," as he called them—and wouldn't be afraid to share that opinion when he was in public, when he had an unwitting audience, much to my siblings' and my embarrassment.
And yet, here we are, getting drunk together, on a Canada Day, in a wine shop across the street from Parliament Hill.
The look in my eyes makes me laugh to this day. They're saying, "I can't believe he just said that," or, "get me out of here."
What was said as that photo was shot is long forgotten, but the looks on our faces is very telling of our relationship at that time, leading toward when we finally became somewhat estranged, had a falling out of sorts.
In a couple of weeks, I'll take a moment to remember that 15 years ago, he died. I wonder what our relationship would have been like, were he still here. Would we have grown closer or moved farther apart? What kind of grandfather would he be? Would he be a better granddad than he had been a dad?
When I see this photo, from more than 21 years ago (I just realized that my dad, in that photo, is only four years older than I am now), I only hope that when my kids are older, and we share a drink together, they won't have that same look if I put my arm around them.