ms. fresh fish

November 10, 2012, 9:18 pm
Filed under: events, family | Tags: , , ,

I feel strong emotions around Remembrance Day, but I’m not sure they’re the right ones. They’re not wrong, but not exactly right.

What I spend the day reflecting upon is not war, or the soldiers that didn’t come home. I, gratefully, don’t know any. I spend the day thinking about, mourning and missing deeply, my Grandfather.

Grampa (Grumpa, depending on his mood) was one of the best men I ever knew.

He died peacefully (literally, not at war and no longer able to put up a physical fight after being in an induced coma for several days) in January, 2000 after a long battle with emphysema. He was surrounded by his wife of 50 years, his children and several of his grandchildren. We held hands and sang Amazing Grace moments before he passed. I was stroking his hair as he took his last breath. This moment is just as important to me as the birth of my children.

He was a quiet, gentle, over-correcting man with a sweet chuckle for a laugh. He was always there for us, but gently. We would have a, let’s say, energized time arguing about politics and social issues, after which he would come to me and say: “You’re probably right, Monkey. I’m just an old man.” He wasn’t being patronizing; he recognized that he was set in his ways and that something like same-sex marriage – so foreign and unbelievable to him – might not be so crazy. After all, his fairly clever granddaughter believed in it so strongly.

I’ve started my story of him from the end for good reason: It’s when I knew him, so I can speak from my experience with him. Before I was born, by all accounts, he was a different man. What we see now obviously as PTSD from several years in WWII as a spitfire pilot, including a stay in a Prisoner-of-War camp, led him to behaviours for too many years for which I know he was not proud (aside from the fact that he was, by all accounts, one of the most fun men anyone who came into his contact had ever encountered).

But, in the most important of lessons he could ever teach his descendants, he changed and he lived out his last two decades as the man he was meant to be – good, fair, kind and reliable.

On Remembrance Day, every year, I wear his RCAF scarf and I think about the man he had the courage and strength to become. About the way I was able to know his overwhelming love just by the look in his eye. I think about how having been a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force was his ultimate point of pride. And I also think of how, when the first Gulf War broke out and I was sitting with him watching CNN, I saw his heartbroken face, tears in his eyes, as his head shook and he muttered “Will they never learn? It’s not the way.”

My grandfather, so proud of being a veteran, was a pacifist. And that was something that we never found a reason to argue about.


4 Comments so far
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So connect with this. Thanks for sharing, friend. I will be thinking of your grandpa along with my own great grandfather and World War I veteran whom I never met, tomorrow.

Comment by v

Simply beautiful. Lest we forget.

Comment by Sandra Guirguis

This is so sweet. Hubby’s Gramps is a living war vet. 93. A biographical book was just published about him. I’ve enjoyed reading it. He signed it for Fraggle. 🙂

Comment by Marianna Annadanna

Wow! What gifts – to have the story written down, for him to know her and for her to be able to feel that connection one day. Beautiful!

Comment by freshfish

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