Darrell’s 1995 eulogy to GrampyComments Off

July 31st, 2010 by pat | in

Eulogy to Grampy

Hi, my name is Darrell (or DAARrell as Grampy used to call me).  I’m Grampy’s grandson, funny how that works.  Anyway, Mom and Aunt Joyce asked me to say a few words about Grampy today.  I initially said no, but I thought how proud Grampy would be to know that one of the grandsons got up to say how much we, the family, loved and respected him.  Then I thought what an honour it would be for me to have the opportunity to give that tribute.

We are all so proud of how long Grampy lived.  He ushered in the 1900′s and then saw the century draw to a close.  He was born in England or Wales;  we haven’t quite come to a concensus on that point.  Anyway, at the age of nine, he was brought to Canada as part of Dr Barnardo’s orphan relocation program.  He was settled on the “farm” in Orangeville, Ont.  We all knew about that because he talked about the farm a lot.  He married Nanny there and then passed the depression travelling across Ontario, going where the jobs were.  This eventually led him to Nova Scotia, building highways in Cape Breton, Maitland, and eventually in Halifax.  Grampy held his family dear to him and they supported each other right up to his last breath.

Grampy played a big part in our lives and we all have our own special memories which we hold dear to our hearts.  I asked Mom what she would like everyone to remember about Grampy.  She immediately said that he was a good man who took care of Nanny when she got sick.  I knew that she really respected Grampy a lot for that.  But then she added, by way of explanation, that it was amazing considering that he had never done a dish in his life and that he was, by nature, such a cranky man.

We all remember Grampy’s famous Sunday drives.  He always looked like he was driving by himself, until when he got a bit closer, you could see Nanny’s head peering over the dash.  Then, as he pulled closer, you could normally see a couple of kids in the back seat. Another one of the things Grampy really liked was a good cigar. So every Sunday, you could see Grampy chugging down one of Nova Scotia’s highways, the windows closed tight, and the car shrouded in smoke.  Grampy was a big, gruff man and we, being so small in comparison, were all a little bit scared of him.  Deb remembers those drives.  No matter how much the car filled up with smoke she was too scared to asked Grampy to open the window.  Dougie, could never get up the courage either but after Doug threw up all over Nan and Gramp, Gramp suddenly developed a love for fresh air.  By the time I was taking drives with Gramp, he had started asking what colour the traffic lights were.  Even more nerve wracking than that was when I started driving for him.  It was like taking Sunday drives with the Driver Examiner.

We were also proud of Gramp being such a big man.  When we were small, we thought of him as a giant.  Christine, after visiting the NS Museum, told her teacher that Gramp was as big as Giant MacAskill.  I’ll never forget Grampy’s immense hands: I can see him wrapping them around us when we came to visit or sticking them in the pocket of his blue cardigan, searching for matches.  He always sat in his rocking chair.  The chair would creak as it moved across the kitchen floor while he sipped on his evening beer.

Gramp was a generous man.  When he had guests, he couldn’t do enough for them.  I still laugh at the mischevious look on his face when he’d slip Justin a cookie behind Pat’s back.  And he was always slipping us money for treats at the store.  He loved having us near, helping him around the house. He’d never let us do anything but he liked pretending that he couldn’t do a job without our help.  And of course we never minded because all we wanted was to be with him anyway.

When we think of Gramp, we always think Gramp and Nan: they came as a set.  The both of them loved having company and they had A LOT.   We spent our lives gathered in Nanny’s kitchen.  There was the rocking chair for Grampy, the red vinyl step stool for the first kid in the room, and a kitchen chair stacked high with cushions for Nanny.  Funny, even sitting on that mound of cushions, Nanny still only made it up to the table.  For us, it was a haven.  The older kids would go up and sneak smokes with Nanny.  Me, I was more the cookie type so I kept a close eye on the yellow metal bread box which was always filled with warm tea biscuits.  Every evening we would all pack into Nanny’s kitchen for crackers and Black Diamond cheese.  We’d normally play a round of 45′s.  Nanny was pretty quick, but as she got older she got less quick and more sneaky, slipping herself an extra draw when she was dealer.  Nanny was a great cook and we’d stay for any meal we could get.  And then there was Christmas.  We would  all pick one toy to take with us, get dressed in our new Christmas outfit, then head up to Nan’s and Gramp’s for Christmas dinner.  I remember the dinner and decorations: the candles glowing red in the window sill and the glass snowman with the styrofoam head, filled with candy.  They were happy times for us.

Gramp began his life as an orphan, alone.  He died surrounded by a loving family.  Along the way, he made a lot of children happy.  I was driving to Bedford yesterday.  The Basin was remarkably calm with no more than a slight stirring on the surface.  The water reflected the world back up: blue sky and snow.  It made me think of Grampy and how the Basin for that day was at peace, like Grampy was at peace.  It was a very striking symbol for me and made me think how natural Grampy’s passing was and how content he must now be to be finally at rest with Nanny.

Goodbye Grampy, I love you.

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