My relationship with my maternal Grandfather is fond and multi-layered. One impression is of a colourful man who rolled out religious cusses I wouldn’t utter a day in my life. He made jaunty comments about ladies like a teenager would and admitted he isn’t a rocking chair Grandpa. I sometimes exhaled in exasperation like any teenager. He didn’t play ‘pull my finger’. There was more dignity in his bearing. But he’d enjoy such a joke from someone else. In contrast, it wouldn’t have amused his daughter, my Mother. She still tells us to eat with correct forks, making one wonder how she grew up in the same house. She does report that as children, propriety was instilled in them.
There is honesty about someone like Grandpa. I’d love a knob for dialling-down boldness in our family but prefer and appreciate ‘tell it like it is’ people. If one isn’t frightened by candour, we make others comfortable doing the same. At the root of dynamic people is the greatest sensitivity. We value family, regard close friends equally to family, care about feelings, and justice. Grandpa was successful; an accomplished mining engineer and health and safety inspector, who had a former prime minister as a superior. You saw at once that he was intelligent and into leadership, indoors and outdoors. He avidly loved camping, golfing, and there was no shortage of accomplishments and traits to admire. But I wondered how much we had in common; me being more spiritual, musical, and gentle.
I once surprised Grandpa very pleasantly, when he teased about wearing lipstick. I declared I was pink from eating candy and proved it with a Kleenex. He lived through teenagers who lied and snuck out and seemed stunned to meet a forthright child. If I wanted something my parents opposed, we debated and that was new to him. Reflecting on it now, I like the thought that I taught or showed him something; he who loved to teach. He regularly opened sentences with “Do you know why ( ) is like ( )”? I’m happy to say that as much as he enjoyed giving a talk, he wasn’t a blab or ‘know-it-all’. Grandpa loved hearing what others had to say.
I’m glad I got to know him well as a teen. When I was born, he lived in other parts of Canada. He visited as a larger-than-life man, eager for a hug and kiss, who we identified as ‘Grandpa’ in name. When I began writing letters and he later moved closer, I knew him better. But what did I share in common with a golfer and mathematical mind? Surprisingly, one thing was “The Young & The Restless”, which he introduced to me. The veteran actress, Jeanne Cooper, recently died and on today’s program they finally announced her character’s death. This was huge. After I turned my TV set off, I stepped outside to contemplate.
All of a sudden I thought of Grandpa and how he would react to this show. I would like to pour over it with him, meeting for lunch now that I have a car. He saw most of my twenties – but before I had apartments to enjoy inviting him to. And now, my own country house he would love. I feel like the grand torch-passing for ‘Katherine Chancellor’, would fit as an homage for my Grandpa too: an impressive presence now filling us from within.