Nazdar Klamo

My father had a tendency to speak Czech with his buddies when his family was around. My father did this because we, his immediate family, couldn’t speak Czech. He never wanted us to know it. My father kept secrets. Read about my unknown half sister Here.

My father taught us only one Czech phrase. A phrase to say at the start of a meal. Dobra Chut’ meaning Good Appetite. I have never taught my children this phrase. Maybe I’m bitter towards my father. Perhaps I can share this phrase and create good memories of their grandfather whom they’ve never met. My children want to see the good in the world, and I want that as well.

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But I did pick up on some Czech. As a child you get curious as to what is going on in your world. I discovered a few things from my father’s friends older kids. They were surprised that I didn’t know Czech. But I knew some. Mainly because I stole my father’s old English to Czech dictionary.

He used a few phrases quite often which made it easy to find words. I began to become quite proficient in trying new phonic spellings to decipher what he was saying. Most was gibberish. But on occasion I heard about his feelings for his family. His disgust. His disdain. His regret. Being a child and receiving pity from people you barely knew was difficult. A part of me wanted to return to being naive. I wasn’t exactly the son he wanted. But I overcame his words, overcame his feelings of contempt- I survived and thrived.

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My father used a phrase often when greeting his friend. At one point my father told me it meant “Hello Smiley.” But the literal phrase would have defined my father more than his friend.

Nazdar Klamo.

Simply meaning,

“Hello Deceit.”

To the feelings my father left me with when he died in 2000, I say “Na shledanou.

Bye-bye. Cheerio. So long.

2019- The Year Devoted to Our Son

It feels like this year is heavily devoted to our son Theory. We have already done two trips for speed skating competitions and have two more weeks out of town planned this summer for him to get some more practice.

He stole my tutu.

If you’ve been following along this week, you’ll also notice I was a parent chaperone at his Grade Seven camp. I was really happy that he wanted me to do this. It also made me feel good to find out his friends were excited that I was going as well. In fact, one kid asked that his father not volunteer to come because the boy wanted to be in our cabin.

My father never would’ve considered doing that. Let alone take time to ensure his kids experienced successes. My wife and I put a lot of effort into making sure our kids get the best education and experiences.

I have a fantastic relationship with my son. I can be both his parent and his friend. The fact that he happily hangs out with me while out in public is great. I hope to keep this up through his teenage years.

It’s the kind of relationship I wish I had with my father.

World JR Hockey

Yesterday my son and I attended his first ever hockey game. We went to the Rogers Arena in Vancouver to watch a match from the World Juniors. My boss at work was kind enough to give me a couple of tickets. So I took full advantage of my day off and my son being home for winter break to attend the game.

We were happy to show support to the Czech Republic as they played against Russia. I picked up a hockey scarf at the game so my son would have a souvenir to remember his first hockey game.

With one minute left in the game, the Czech team pulled out all the stops in an attempt to tie the game. Unfortunately, the last shot on goal didn’t make.

In the end, my son and I had a great experience together. We cheered, we oooed and we awwwwed with the crowd. We took selfies and videos. We even had good conversation during the drive to and from the game. All around, it was a great evening spent with my son.

Sept 19, 1942

Today would’ve marked my father’s birthday. But he left this world in the year 2000. Funny thing is I know very little about him even though he was in my life for 24 years.

I know his birthday is today and that he was born in Prague. My knowledge of his history is limited. He kept his past a guarded secret. These are the tidbits I do know:

  • His middle initial is K. I believe it was for Karl- but I cannot be certain.
  • He has a sister (whom I’ve never met or spoken to)
  • In the summers of his youth, he was forced to leave home and work on a farm.
  • He was a helicopter mechanic in Prague when he was 17.
  • He defected to Canada in the early 1970’s.
  • He left behind a wife and child (Also whom I’ve never met or spoken to) before marrying my mother.
  • Then there are the things I can recall about him growing up:
    • He enjoyed golf.
      He owned a deli once.
      He loved to build things for his home.
      He always wanted a Mercedes Benz, so he finally bought one.
      He worked long hours.
      He never wanted to go on vacation.
      Only once did he ever return to Prague.
      He yelled a lot.
  • He rarely ever expressed an emotion besides anger towards me. I always felt like I wasn’t the son he wanted or something. I’m sure in his own way he cared and loved me, but it didn’t always show. I just hid in my room mostly.
  • Prior to his death, he only had an opportunity to meet my wife. He never met any of his grandchildren. My kids used to ask me about grandpa, but have since stopped. Partly because they are older now. But also because I don’t have anything new to tell them about him.
  • After his departure nearly 18 years ago, he is slowly becoming a faded memory- and I’ve come to terms with that. I don’t have much more to say about it all. As I said last year, I’m trying to focus on the good memories- even though they were few. Oh well.
  • Happy Birthday Josef K. Havelka
  • Coffee To-Go

    I remember the coffee in the 80’s that my parents drank:

    To make a coffee for my parents was simple. Pour hot water over two scoops freeze dried coffee, two scoops sugar and milk. Easy to make and the best part- it was unpleasant tasting. So I never drank coffee as a kid.

    In my late teens and early twenties I never made coffee at home. I only drank the crap from Denny’s late at night or when hung over. Once I married my wife, we would brew our own coffee in a coffee maker. On occasion we would even buy beans and grind them ourselves.

    I was making a coffee to-go today and realized that I have a collection of travel mugs. All of which I could probably throw out now since they aren’t exactly super clean anymore. Back in the 80’s- if my father took a coffee in the car, he used a regular mug.

    One time he forgot his mug on the roof of the car. On the first turn, the mug slide off the roof and exploded onto the sidewalk. I was entertained… he was mad. Probably because he broke his favorite mug.

    I would’ve been mad because the coffee tasted like ass. That’s the difference between me and my father and our tastes in coffees.

    Brony For a Day, Father For a Lifetime

    This morning my 13 year old daughter and I went on a Daddy/Daughter Date. It started with a trip to Chapters where my daughter bought $52 in Manga using her Christmas gift cards. There was so much to choose from, so it took us a little bit. When she was done, she made her way to the cashier. This time with no Anxiety.

    Afterwards we went for a morning matinee movie date. She really wanted to see My Little Pony: The Movie. The theater was having a cheap one time showing today, so we went. We put on our Pony Ears (made by Ningen Headwear) and found a spot off to the side. My daughter didn’t want to sit in the middle of the auditorium and block any of the younger audience members views of the screen. She is always courteous towards others. We were probably the oldest father/daughter couple as well- but we love our animation. She also loves that she met Tara Strong at a convention years ago as well. Becoming a voice over actor seems like something that may appeal to my daughter one day.

    MLP has been a part of my life for ages. Back in 1986, My Little Pony was on the tv in my home. I would’ve been ten and my sister was six. I had no argument with watching the show. In fact, I still remember playing with MLP toys with my sister and not being embarrassed by it. I guess I’ve always had a soft spot for the pastel ponies- I can still recite the theme song. So being a Brony for a short film today wasn’t a big deal.

    After our movie we went for Phở. It was the first time for my daughter. We enjoyed our noodle bowls and talked about the film. We both agreed that it could’ve been better, but it was a nice treat just going the two of us. Shared moments like this last a lifetime. There’s nothing embarrassing about that. So put on some Pony Ears and become 20% cooler in the eyes of you child.

    My Unknown Half Sister

    I’m turning 42 in two months. Of all the things in my life that have made me who I am, one event still surfaces randomly in my mind. I was 13 or 14 when I found out that my father had a family prior to the one I was a part of in my life. He was married at one point when he lived in Czechoslovakia. He had a daughter and wife whom he left behind before coming to Canada.

    He started a new family out here and I was born. Then four years later, I had a sister. It was all that I knew for most of my childhood. Never was it mentioned until my father returned from a trip to his old hometown with some old Czech buddies. Suddenly there was an entire aspect of my father that shocked me. Here were photos of a young lady in her early 20’s hanging out with my father. An older sister I never knew about prior to that moment. Turns out she also had a son. I was now an uncle?

    Years have gone by since that moment when everything changed. No longer was it just me and my little sister- there was now another person that was related to us whom we would never meet. But nothing ever really changed. A couple of years after the “big announcement”, this older sister was never mentioned again. That’s where it ends.

    As I’ve grown up into an adult and father myself- I have made sure to put my children first. I have become a role model and shown much love and respect to my kids. This half sister (my children’s half aunt, I guess) in another country isn’t spoken of very often. My children know about her, the same as I do: She is a person whom was born to my father and got left behind.

    As I think about her, I also don’t know how I feel about her. It’s been nearly 30 years since I found out and I have no urgent desire to search for her. It also seems she has felt the same- there hasn’t been any contact from her end. My mother doesn’t speak of her either because she feels it’s not her place.

    In the end, the facts and the idea of a long lost sister died with my father back in November 2000. No crazy mission to find her. No Hollywood ending reuniting us. That’s all folks.

    November 25,2017

    Today is the pivotal point in my year. Not only is it one month until Christmas, but it’s also the anniversary of my father’s death. I wrote about him last year: Sixteen Years. Today marks year 17 without him on this planet.

    As with my yearly tradition, I will visit his grave. I try and visit on his birthday in September, but if I can’t, I make sure to visit him today. I’ll be taking my family with me to his grave later on, followed by a visit to the Fort Langley Golf Course for a beer and hot chocolate. That was the place my father spent most of his free time.

    It feels like I sense him more at that location than I do at his tombstone. Partly because of his love of golf, but also because he wanted his ashes spread on the golf course. My mother decided to not acknowledge his wishes and chose to bury his ashes in the graveyard instead, much to my chagrin and displeasure. I still don’t agree with her decision, however, the tombstone allows people a place to read his name if they so chose to visit.

    Since my mother and sister moved away from Langley years ago, I think I’m the only one to visit his grave on a regular basis. Because it is so close to my children’s school, sometimes I’ll take a minute or two to stop in and have one of those “speaking to no one in the air” moments. It sometimes clears my thoughts, other times it brings forth strong emotions.

    I’ve mentioned how I didn’t always know who my father was. Perhaps my idea of him is skewed in my memories. One thing is for certain- I’m raising my children very differently than he raised his. Hell, he had a daughter I’ve never met. I have a half sister somewhere in Europe that I’ll probably never meet. I could try and find her, but after my 41 years on this planet and only having my father in common, what’s the point? Maybe she’ll try and find me one day. But I doubt it.

    So here it is- year 17 without him. And I’m doing quite well, thank you. The only thing I’ve done differently is I decided to grow a beard on his birthday and plan on shaving it off this weekend. I think I will make it my new yearly tradition to remember him.

    Cheers grandpa. May you continue to be at rest.

    Grilled Cheese

    When I was about 11, I had my first grilled cheese sandwich. It was in a restaurant with my family during a road trip to go skiing at Big White in Kelowna BC. My father had arranged this trip with his Czech buddies and it was only one of two ski vacations we went on as an entire family.

    We drove to a mountain chalet for a week long ski trip. All I can remember about the building was the indoor pool, playing arcade bowling, and a sign that read, “Das Hofbräuhaus“. These two trips were the only time my father willingly spent quality time with me.

    In the morning, I had ski lessons. By afternoon, my father and I would go down the hill for a few runs. By dinner, I would be back at our room for a quick dinner, then off to swim and play in the small arcade. No adult supervision by the pool or in the arcade. These were simpler times where a boy could spend his quarters happily without restrictions.

    After this wind down, my parents would head to the pub inside the chalet to hang out with my father’s friends. They’d stay out late, so before my parents returned, I would watch some HBO in hopes to catch a glimpse of a boob or two. But my strongest memory of this trip was still at the very beginning of it.

    To get to our vacation destination, we left our home in my dad’s packed Hyundai Stellar. (I don’t think I have a picture of the car because my father hated it, but I found one online.) Within the first hour or so of our journey we stopped in Hope, BC at a truck stop to meet up with his friends in order to make a sort of convoy to the ski resort. This is where I had my first ever grilled cheese sandwich. There was even ham inside of it. I was in heaven.

    When we returned home from our trip, I vowed to learn how to make a perfect grilled cheese. I had never cooked before, so this was exciting for me. Years and years of frying up bread and cheese followed. I have now mastered the art of the grilled cheese. I have made numerous variations of them, all with near perfect results. It has gotten to a point that my family would ask for a sandwich if I was making one. But soon it shall be no longer.

    Over the past few weeks, our 11 year old son has been doing his best to make grilled cheese sandwiches. He has asked for advice and tips as he slowly creates his near-perfect meal. Even though he has tried to argue some of my points, he would use them and realize that dad was right.

    If my father was still around today, he’d probably never have guessed that the time he spent with me would come down to a simple sandwich. A sandwich that his grandson now excitedly creates almost daily. I don’t think my son knows where my obsession came from, but he is following suit.

    All of this stems from one trip, one stop, and one happy memory. Thanks dad for that.

    Beard Brush

    So I began growing a beard. I started on my father’s birthday September 19th.  I am planning on shaving it off on the anniversary of his death on November 25. Growing a beard was done for a few reasons.  

    1. My wife and kids said I couldn’t do it.
    2. I’ve never grown a full beard ever.
    3. My father always had a beard and I wanted to see if I’d look like him if I grew one.


    I’m only a few weeks in and I must say that the beard no longer itches. I almost shaved on the fifth day because of this.  But I overcame that urge in order to persevere. I have some points to prove!

    A few days ago, I dug out my father’s old beard brush.  I figured it’d be a good idea to keep my facial hair tamed.  As I ran the brush through my beard, something odd happened.  I could smell my father on it.


    My dad never wore cologne or aftershave. The memories I do have of his beard were the smells of beer and stale cigarettes.  But on his beard brush was something that took me completely by surprise.  I could smell the brand of hair spray he used- 17 years later.  A sweet smell, not at all what I expected to remember about my father.

    Happy memories poured into my mind.  Such as my father’s smile behind his beard.  The way he combed his hair. The suit he wore to work. The jogging pants he changed into every night. All of the simple things that defined who he was.  Back on His Birthday I was scared that I’d forget who he was, but it came back with one scent.

    Now I’m unsure if I want to shave my beard off. But I don’t want the smell of my father to be removed from the brush. As time goes on, I’ll have to make that choice. 

    But today, I brushed my beard once more.