My Grandpa was born on July 26, 1920 at Lonebutte, Alberta, just south of Hanna. He was a brother, father, grandfather and even great grandfather. He repaired locomotives for the Canadian National Railroad and worked for Canada Post delivering mail for many years. My Grandpa served in the Second World War and saw England, France, and Germany among many other places; he volunteered to serve in the Pacific but by the grace of God the War ended before he was sent over. My Grandpa was a hero.
I would see my Grandparents every weekend growing up. They’d come over after mass for coffee and we’d visit. He’d teach me tricks like how to shoot spitballs and how to pop the happy meal bags from McDonalds. My brother and I, and the rest of the cousins, would all go camping in Drumheller during the Summer where we ate marshmallows, hotdogs and rootbeer for every meal. I remember having sleepovers at the “Yay” house. Sometimes we would pick buckets full of raspberries in the backyard, have perogies for dinner and stay up till 4a.m. watching M.A.S.H. One time, when I was about 5 or so my Grandpa got me to put out my hands like I was cupping water and I got to hold the grenade he kept in his sock drawer from the War. “Don’t pull the pin” he said. I wasn’t really sure what it was I was holding but I was pretty sure Mom or Grandma wouldn’t be pleased, so I didn’t tell them I got to hold it until about 20 years later.
My Grandpa had the best sense of humour. He was one of those people that could make anyone laugh. He saw light in everything: “high tea”, “mow-de-lawn”, “tastes good? EAT IT”, “There are people dying today that have never died before”, and the list never ends.
He liked it when I played the piano. It was the first thing I’d do for my Grandparents when they would come to visit- from the time I started playing until now. He’d sit quietly with his coffee and listen to me play; he heard my 3 note songs turn into scales turn into RCM exam prep and eventually he heard my music turn into full-fledged Beethoven sonatas and a degree in music. What he liked best though was when I would play the Red River Valley. I remember that day I first played it, everyone was in the living room and I was pretty small. My Grandma took out the Cowboy music book and my Grandpa wanted me to try that one. Since that moment onward I played it for him every time I had a chance. I even played it for him the last time we were together at the end of August. Had I’d known it would be the last I never would have stopped playing.
My Grandpa passed away surrounded by family and love on January 23rd, 2013. Even though I miss him I know he’ll never be fully gone because the sun started shining (in midst of a rainy day) last Thursday as my Grade 3 class sang the Red River Valley.
He will be forever in my heart.