By Jon Rumley, Walmart Canada Corporate Affairs
Heather Mills had a feeling that last Father’s Day would be the final one with her dad.
Battling cancer for the third time, Doug Mills was 81 years old. Time wasn’t on his side.
“I wanted to give him something that will bring him some joy knowing that it was likely going to be his last Father's Day,” Heather said. “I wanted to make it extra special for him.”
Heather used the creative problem-solving skills she uses in her job every day at Walmart Canada and started planning early for a surprise.
Her dad was a big fan of cars and owned several over the years. He took pride in washing them almost every day and could tell the year, make and model of a car just by hearing the engine.
There was one car he owned that stood out: a 1960 Chevy Impala in suntan copper with a hard top roof and wings on the back. He loved the colour and ordered it after seeing it in a brochure in 1959.
That was the car Heather wanted for her dad for one last spin. It was meaningful.
“I wasn’t sure if I could find one, but I thought if I could pull it off, it would make for a special memory,” she said. “I joined some classic car groups on Facebook and posted an ad and crossed my fingers.”
As luck would have it, just four days later, Heather received a message from a man who lived only 20 minutes away from her parents in Fergus, Ontario. He had a nearly identical car and offered to bring it over for a visit.
“It was a 1960 Bel Air, which was the same shape and same colour as the one my dad had,” Heather said. The next day, she would surprise her father for the last time.
His face lit up the moment he saw the vintage car he first fell in love with more than six decades ago.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better Father’s Day gift,” he said with misty eyes. “That really made my day!”
Heather’s father died peacefully at home with his wife and daughter by his side on June 5, 2021. He didn’t make it to Father’s Day, but “he rode into heaven in style in his 1960 Chevy Impala,” Heather said.
Only nine people were allowed to attend the funeral due to pandemic restrictions, which made a difficult time even harder for Heather’s family. Thankfully, she got the support she needed from her Walmart team.
“I’m so incredibly grateful that Walmart Canada allowed me some time to be with my dad in his dying days,” Heather said. “Having your employer’s support during difficult life milestones is so important and means so much.”
“Walmart was there for me and let me have the time I needed to grieve and help my mom get all of the arrangements sorted,” the Senior Program Manager for Omni Store Fulfilment said.
Today, Heather is solving problems for Walmart customers using the same creative skills that made her dad smile.
“Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Be sure to give your dad an extra big hug this year.”