Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Some Memories of Grampa

Apart from what I wrote yesterday, I don't have many specific recollections about my interactions with grandfather, but here are a few things that I do recall. First: this is he as a young man, working in a greenhouse, possibly his own. (Butterfly may be interested in zooming in on his left eye.)

AC does a Naughty at Grampa's

You might recall that grampa was a gardener, but I once tried to throw a monkey wrench into the works. We visited on a Sunday after church, and sometime that afternoon, I found myself roaming around in his garden. I saw all of these neat markers by the sides of each row, and something possessed me to pull them up ... and put them in my pocket. But then it must have occurred to me that I shouldn't have done that, so I kept them hidden in my pocket all of the way home on the bus. When I got home, I threw them down a drain out by the sidewalk.

The next time we visited, I overheard grampa say to my parents, "The last time you were here someone took my garden markers." I was clever enough not to react in any way, and he added, "It must have been some of the neighbourhood kids."


I don't think my initial act was done with mischievous intent, but at some point I realized that this was not something that I should have done and was clever enough to hide and then get rid of the evidence.

My Solo Visits

It was probably in the summer when I was eight that I visited the grands on my own. Memory informs me that this occurred more than once, but it doesn't tell me whether it was more than twice. It sounds odd when I tell you these visits took place because my mother was working and didn't want me to be alone all day. So, I got on a bus, by myself, and went to my grandparents' house. Strange: they didn't come to me; I went to them. On a bus by myself. Times were such that I was pretty unafraid and confident in some ways at least, and it didn't bother me at all to make the trip on my own. It does seem strange in retrospect, however.

I do remember going for a walk with grampa and stopping at a bookstore or at least a store that sold books. I had enough money to buy one, but grampa wanted to buy it for me. For whatever reason, I was concerned about the state of his finances and was determined that he shouldn't. But then the clerk or cashier wisely said to me, "I think your grandfather wants to buy this for you." So I let him.

A Tough Old Guy

On one of these visits, I remember sitting on the floor rolling a wooden ball to grampa. I think it was a ball to a little in-the-house bowling set. I'd roll it hard to him, and he would roll it back to me. But I remember worrying that I was rolling it too hard for the old guy. That seems odd to me now because I have since come to realize that he must have been a pretty tough fellow.

My dad used to recount how on grampa's first winter (from England) he didn't even have to wear a full winter coat — in a Canadian winter! I think he also said that grampa worked on some sort of forestry operation in the Eastern Townships (of Quebec) that winter — an activity not for the faint of heart or weak of muscle. In my previous post I mentioned how he continued to work even in his seventies, and I also know that even on the day that he died of a heart attack (at home in the afternoon), he had worked in the morning — cutting the neighbour's grass. Oddly enough my maternal grandfather died later in the same year, 1958. It couldn't have been easy for my parents.

I remember visiting in the funeral home, and I wasn't upset or repulsed by seeing him there. I touched his hand, and a person whom I called aunt but who wasn't really, told me not to do that, but my dad said that it was okay. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could talk to these people now as adults and ask our questions and get to know them? But it doesn't work that way, and kids just don't think and appreciate. What I do really appreciate is that my mother often spoke of her memories and took the time to put together and annotate several photo albums. Part or even much of why I write posts like this is for the benefit of my own children. There may come a day when they will be glad of such tidbits, just as I am so thankful to have been told as much as I have been.


ChrisB said...

I love reading your memories of your grampa. My mother has recently been putting together photo albums for my brother and me. A few years back I asked her to write out as much history about all the family that she could remember, so that I can pass it on.

Ruth said...

Great stories in the past two posts. I do love history and hearing stories about other generations. Your misdeed is well remembered so you must have experienced a fair bit of guilt!

mreddie said...

I'm enjoying your family history and I regret that I didn't know my grandparents well - on either side. I'm trying to remedy that for my gruntmonkeys and talk with them as much as they can comprehend. ec

Pam said...

This is a wonderful post, AC, I am enjoying your memories. And just think, we are now on the other end of the spectrum and our grandchildren are collecting their memories of us. Some day, when we are gone, tales will be told and we will be the heroes.

Gina said...

What a wonderful read!

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Lovely recollections. Your "criminal activity" is one of those things we do in our childhood and never tell anyone. They haunt us a little.

When I was older than you I tried to steal the money out of a newspaper box. The owner of the store caught me. He said, "The next time I will call your mother." This was the end of my criminal career. Perhaps, it does take a village to raise a child.