Don't just live in the world

For Gramps

June 21st, 2010 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal

Today I have a very important phone call to make. The kind of phone call that you think about all day, trying to decide if it’s the right time, or maybe it’s too early, or maybe it’s too close to lunch time…

It’s the kind of phone call I would normally avoid making with every bit of excuse I could come up with. This is a phone call to a very important man, a man who may have had a hand in shaping my life without my ever really thinking about it. I’m scared to talk to him. Something that I wasn’t at all scared of when I met him as a child. I have no reason to be scared, he’s asked me to call, and everyone tells me that he’s a very nice man and I know that he is and we will end up having a lovely conversation.

But this phone call is for my grandfather, and so I have to make sure I do it right.

My grandfather is turning 90 this summer, and it is my job to get in touch with an old friend of his to see if I can get a letter of congratulations. In fact, this old friend has already agreed to write the letter, but has asked that I call him to discuss it and give him the details. This old friend is someone my grandfather admires, and because my grandfather admires him I do too.

You see, my grandfather is one of the most important people in my life. I say one of now, because I have a marriage and a baby, but for most of my life he was the most important person. My mother always said we had a special relationship. He taught me how to build things and how to ride my bike, he taught me how to read and how to do long division, he acted as the main male role model in my life and without him I would have turned out much, much differently.

As a child, I watched my grandparents develop a friendship with Mr. and Mrs. Broadbent. I don’t know that they were much more than acquaintances, but I new my grandfather admired Mr. Broadbent and the work he was doing. And because I knew my grandfather held him in esteem, I did too. And as I grew older, I learned that Mr. Broadbent is a very special kind of politician – a type I happen to think we could use more of – and I admired him for the work that he’s done.

I happen to believe that the degree that hangs on my wall – my BA in Political Science with a concentration in Canadian Politics – and the career I’m building are a direct result of my family teaching me that politics is important and there are politicians who can do great things and who truly care about taking care of all of us.

And at 10 o’clock I will make a phone call to give my grandfather something to smile about on his 90 birthday – a letter from an old friend he can read while his great-granddaughter sits in his lap.


I made the phone call and it went better than I ever could have imagined. He told me he remembered my grandfather fondly, he was glad to hear that he is alive and well, and that he was delighted I had tracked him down so that he could write a birthday letter. We talked for longer than I had anticipated and he told me some wonderful stories that I believe will all be included in what he writes. He told me to give my grandfather a big hug and was glad to hear that I will be taking his great-granddaughter out to meet him.

The best thing he told me was that he still has the desk my grandfather made for him – in fact, he’d been working at it the day before – and that the chair he sits in at that desk is the chair he sat in while he worked in the House of Commons. It’s a traditional retirement gift for long-sitting MPs. As I said on Twitter, that is the coolest thing that ever awesomed. I have no other way to describe it. I look forward to seeing my grandfather’s face when he reads his letters, I’m sure it will be well worth the few moments of panic I faced when thinking about dialing the phone.

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