One of the last few times we went to visit my Gramps, my kid asked him if he was going to live to be 100. He replied, “I’ll give it a go.”

Today would have been his 99th birthday.

The year he turned 90, he was still living in Regina and my sister and I flew out with the baby girl to see him. She was six months old and it was the first time he was meeting her.

As soon as I knew I was pregnant one of my dearest wishes was that he would live to meet that baby. The day after we landed we met Gramps for breakfast. I sat down next to him and he said “give her to me.”

My sister got a picture of that moment. Joe had it framed for me before we got home. You can see the love radiating from his face.

All I wanted was for him to know her, this little girl who was 90 years his junior.

And he lived on. When she was two he moved back to Ottawa with my mother, and suddenly we had family supports all around us.

Rather than him just meeting her, she got to share storybooks and milkshakes and more. She got to have him for nine years. She will remember him, like I will always remember him.

Unrelenting love and support. Pride.

Recently my mom mentioned that Gramps would sit and watch Sesame Street with us when we were little. She said “he would do anything for you.” I realized that I knew that in the greater sense of the word. It wasn’t about him making a fool out of himself, it was constant, staid support, love, acceptance. Tolerance, sometimes.

Every child should grow up with someone like Gramps in their lives. I don’t know who I would be if he hadn’t been there for us, always.

I will miss him, always.

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