When I was a kid, my sister and I used to sleep over at our grandparents house fairly regularly – though I don’t remember exactly how often. I imagine my mother could have used a weekly break.
My grandparents moved a lot when I was a kid. I remember three or four different places, all around Ottawa and then in Almonte.
I remember sitting on my grandfather’s knee while he smoke his pipe and read us the comics. At least, until he thought better of it and gave up his pipe for us, and for my grandmother’s health. In his 90s he would start smoking again, because he enjoyed it and he’s in his 90s. The smell of pipe tobacco never fails to take me right back to a very happy childhood place.
I remember going to bed with my sister beside me – a pull out couch I think – and a bowl of apple slices as a snack. I remember waking up to the smell of coffee.
My mother doesn’t drink coffee, nor, now does my sister. But waking up at my grandparents’ meant the delicious smell of coffee. What mornings were meant to be. And also piles and piles of my Tutu’s pancakes.
I remember sitting on my new two-wheeler in our driveway, with my Gramps holding me steady, waiting for him to say go.
I remember sitting in my room, holding a book and crying tears of frustration as my mother and my grandfather tried to help me read. I was desperate to be as much of a reader as the rest of my family. And now I am.
I remember wielding a hammer and helping to frame a little wall for the playhouse in our backyard. Eventually we would dive off the roof of that little house into the snow.
And despite the memories of a father who never expressed love or pride, I remember feeling loved. I remember my Gramps never failing to express his pride in whatever I had done.
I remember growing up wanting to be like him. My Gramps.
I remember nothing less than desperate for him to meet her. And to know that he loved me as much as what I see when he looks at her.