The recent long weekend had a small family gathering, under the provincial limits and we all took our precautions getting in and out. That wasn’t enough, and we became a cluster of COVID positive cases, including myself. My symptoms have been mild, aside from exhaustion. That was not the case for others. Fevers, loss of senses, difficulty breathing, aches. The worst off was my grandfather, near 90, who ended up in the ICU a week ago on an O2 feed.
He passed away peacefully this Saturday. The nurses did all they could, and this crazy pandemic meant that only my sister was able to visit him during his final moments. We were able to video chat during the day, where he could hear us but not respond verbally. Myself, wife ands kids were all able to say our goodbyes and most importantly, our thank you for the live he lived and lessons he shared.
He was a driven man, busier during his retirement than most people would be with work and a kids to keep them going. He was in great shape, walking hours a day regardless of the weather. Last year he fell from a 12 foot ladder, hit his head, drove 6hours, was hospitalized and drilled 2 holes to drain the blood, and was walking within a week. He had pride in what he had, what he could share, and more so with his family. He’d often mention how he was happy we were all successful in our own measures, that he had passed on good values.
He was my godfather, and I don’t know a time without him in my life. He came to my hockey games when I was a kid, I spend summers with him and my grandmother at the cottage. He always welcomed us with open arms, and a full fridge. He read multiple papers every day, always wanting to stay current with events. He’d read piles of books and love to debate any item you could think of. But he was different, he would accept other information and change his perspective. He adapted to every challenge, always pushed forward.
He kept things orderly and neat without it being obsessive. He was collected, and thought things through without reacting. He would recall stories from 40 years ago like they were yesterday, and he was always a meeting new people and striking up conversations. He liked pretty much everybody, as long as they treated others with respect. Something we learned at a young age (and being French, there’s a nuance to this in addressing elders and strangers).
I’m full of memories of my childhood. BBQs at his place. Shooting balls against his garage door. Going fishing our on the river. Collecting blueberries. Mowing the lawn. The stories. The cribbage games. The summers at the cottage. The dance at my uncle’s wedding. A trip to the family’s sugar bush. Long rides up to the cottage and getting busted for speeding. Lunch along the river. Country music. The Christmas parties with more presents than floor space. Watching hockey games on Saturday nights. Miles of memories for me alone. There are hundreds more with my kids, who were more than fortunate enough to have met their great grandfather.
A bit more than a year ago he put all his affairs in order. He sold his house, transferred the cottage to my dad, gave us all pieces of art or dishes from his home. He had said repeatedly that he had done all he wanted to do, that everything from then on was just extra time to enjoy. When my cousin got married last year, he was the best man, and I could not have imagined a bigger smile. He was content that all his grandkids were in a good space, and life goals were complete – no worries left.
My grandfather was a great man. Without question he taught me values through his actions that have made me a better person. He enriched the lives of everyone who knew him. He lived a full life, without regret. I can only hope to honour that memory.
I love my grandfather. I miss my grandfather.