When Joe proposed to me, the moment was made all the more special when he told me he had gone to my grandfather and asked for his blessing. The act showed that Joe understood me perfectly. My grandfather helped to raise me and we had a special bond.
He taught me to ride my bike, he taught me woodworking. He built a playhouse in the backyard for my sister and me. He and my grandmother were there for every part of my childhood. They were secondary parents. There was my mother, and there were my grandparents.
I remember sitting on the living room floor as he worked me through long division. I remember him dealing with my frustration as I just wanted to be able to read.
While I grew up feeling like my father was never proud of me, I never doubted that my grandfather was. He told me as often as he could.
Just before Joe and I got married, my Gramps moved to Saskatchewan, to be followed by my mother just after we got married.
He was so proud when I started working for the NDP. My uncle worked for Ed Broadbent and the Broadbents and my grandparents had formed a friendship. At Mr. Broadbent’s cottage there is a desk that was built specially for the chair he sat in in the House of Commons,which was gifted to him on his retirement. That desk was built by my grandfather.
Gramps used to ask me how ‘Canada’s next Prime Minister’ was doing when we spoke. He meant Jack, and I was very happy to be working for a man that my grandfather had such respect for.
After my daughter was born, one of the most important things for me was introducing her to Gramps. When she was sixth months old it finally happened:
We went to visit for his 90 birthday and when he and my mother joined us for breakfast at the hotel, he looked at her and he said “give her here.”
In May of 2012 Gramps and my mother moved back. My mother didn’t want to be so far away from her granddaughter any more and Gramps came back with her. Since then I have had the pleasure of watching him just sit back and watch her. Any time she’s around he just watches her. He takes her in. We decided to have family photos done, and Sara caught the exact photo that I was dreaming of:
Seeing him take so much pleasure in just watching her be herself fills my heart.
My grandfather was born in Smiths Falls, Ontario in 1920. When he was 19 he left Queen’s University and enlisted in the navy. His two younger brothers enlisted as well, one in the army and one in the air force. After the war he finished his degree at UBC and worked as an economist and statistician.He and my grandmother were married for over 50 years when she died in 2003, they had two children. My grandparents moved around the country, settling in Ottawa in time for my mother to finish high school and start at Carleton University where she met my father – who my grandfather never liked.
His father was a cabinetmaker and Gramps built a lot of things for us as I was growing up, including the toy box that currently houses some of the kid’s stuff. I got it for my first Christmas and my initials are carved in the top. He is a sketcher and he taught me to sketch. I’ve been trying to start again, I think it disappointed him when I gave it up. I think the creative is where his heart lay, but to support his family like he was supposed to he worked for the government.
I never saw him get angry. I never saw him be anything but kind. He was never emotional but he was always caring. He was stalwart. He has so often been the piece of the family that kept us all strong.
I hope he knows what he’s meant, what he’s been for us, for me. It’s so hard to say it sometimes. I don’t know if I ever could have made him understand.