Sunday, May 13, 2007

Goodbye Grandpa

My grandpa died last week. He would have been 93 soon and he had been deteriorating for some time. It is sad to say that the last few times I saw him, it didn't really feel the same because of the limits his age placed on his behaviour and reactions. For years one couldn't help but know that soon he'd go, but though it wasn't a shock he had passed on, it was pretty sad to realize it. It turned out I wasn't as prepared as I had thought to say goodbye to Grandpa. When I heard he was gone I regretted not seeing him more when I had the chance.

Something my grandpa rode around on decades ago.

I was looking forward to getting back out to the farm, even if the trip's purpose was for a funeral. The farm has a lot of memories for me. We went out there a lot when I was a kid, and of course back then it was my grandpa who personified the place. I wanted to get back there and wander around and just remember what I could. I didn't really see him much in the past few years, so I wanted to pay him some respect by admiring the place he built.

The old farm house. It had no plumbing but was home to my
grandpa's family for years and years until abandoned after a
tornado removed the roof and put it down in the wrong place.

The old bathroom. (The house had no plumbing remember?)

When it was time to go to the funeral I was nervous. My grandma and dad have both died leaving my Grandpa, uncle Verne, and aunt Helen and her family on my dad's side of the family. I saw Grandpa and Verne a lot, but I haven't seen Helen's family in years and years. As a kid I saw them a lot. I loved playing with my cousins and I have fond memories of catching frogs and shooting Bryon in the ear with a bow and arrow. Knowing I was seeing them again soon made me feel nervous on two fronts; because I had changed genders since the last time, and also because I was a bad cousin having let nearly a decade go by without a visit.

The main road through the middle of the farm.

My cousins were there with their kids. Everyone was very pleasant to me, and I was glad for a chance to talk to them all again. Brenda's eulogy made me cry, and when I glanced over and saw that Carolyn was crying too and I was reminded that these are not just people I have lost contact with, they are my family. After the funeral we had a lunch and I was able to sit down and chat with Bryon for quite a while. When all the attendees were leaving I was happy to hear that all of Grandpa's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were all heading back to the farm for supper. I was looking forward to catching up some more, but it turns out that I didn't get that chance.

When we got back I was going to help Brenda and Carolyn make supper but then I was invited to play tag with Brenda's son Wesley and Carolyn's kids Ryan and Taylor. We went outside and had a game of girls vs boys tag and I have to admit we lost. Bryon jumped in a couple times and help the girl's team out, but otherwise Ryan was just too fast to catch. About 7 minutes into the game I had to sit down on the ground and catch my breath. I apologized that I had to rest a while and Taylor said, "That's OK. I do this two hours a day!" Taylor sat down next to me on the grass for a while and then asked if I could take them to catch frogs. I said sure.

An extreme close-up of me on the road with all the frogs.

The four of us went down the road through the bushes and the frogs started jumping out of the way. With every footstep we'd see several frogs jumping for dear life, hoping to avoid getting accidentally stepped on. I reached down to grab a few for the kids to hold. After I handed one to Wesley, Taylor said, "Susan?"

"Sarah." I corrected.

"Sarah, Are you a tomboy?"

I said, "Yeah I guess I am sometimes." I didn't know if girls got teased for being tomboys these days, so I added, "There's nothing wrong with that though."

She paused a moment and said, "I'm a tomboy too, I'll take a frog please!" After I handed her one she said, "You're fun." and I felt great.

Our walk took us through the middle of the farm and I got to tell them about things I did as a kid there and they all listened. Taylor and Ryan told me about their farm, and in return I told them about my apartment. Taylor was a shocked to learn that I had no backyard. "Where do you play?" She asked. Kids are cute.

We heard people yelling that supper was ready so we started back to the house. On the way we had a rock throwing contest, and Wesley won it on his first throw. While I was eating Taylor asked me to come sit with her, so I did. I was feeling guilty that I hadn't spent much time with Bryon, Brenda or Carolyn yet, but I was having fun hanging out with the kids.

After supper I went inside to wash my dishes and Taylor came with me. We ended up looking around the house for a while. She talked about Grandpa a lot. She said that he never came to see them, and they only saw him when they visited him. I said that he was just too old to move around too much and it was just easier on him to wait for visitors. She agreed that was probably true and she saw one of his caps laying around. She picked it up and said "This should have gone down with him." I had to stop and marvel about how smart some kids are.

Before we left to go back outside she said, "Sarah?" and then she stopped for a minute looking like she was thinking really hard. "Are you my auntie? or my grandma?"

I said, "Well, I am cousins with your mom, so I think that makes us cousins too."

She looked as if she finally figured something out and said, "We're cousins!" She smiled really big and I could tell this was good news to her. Then I figured something out too. Maybe I didn't get a chance to catch up with my first cousins, but I did a pretty good job of getting to know my second cousins, especially Taylor.

It is funny to say, but I had a great time at the funeral and the supper afterwards. I had a chance to say goodbye to Grandpa, to talk with my cousins, relive some memories and to meet some new relatives for the very first time. I don't think Grandpa would mind one bit that I smiled a lot more than I cried.

Wesley Austin Ma*****on
1914 - 2007


Anonymous said...

Hey Sarah,

I remember you liked playing chess with your grandpa - he was a fiesty player.


Sarah J M said...

Hi Ben,
Well, this was the card player grandpa, but you are right about him being feisty!

I forgot that you and Eric had been out there a few times so we could ride the motorcycle, the four-wheeler and the skidoos. Remember that incident that started with me saying "We don't want to wreck these skidoos Ben." and ended with me picking up broken pieces of my skidoo off the snow?

Anonymous said...

Well, firstly my deepest feelings for your grandpa. Secondly, your life seems so full of stuff, its very interesting to read every week :).

Anonymous said...

It is very sad, if foreseen to lose a grandparent. As you know that my grandfather just passed away I can honestly say that he would be happy for us all to be smiling rather than crying at his passing. The good times are what we should remember and cherish for all life. Thank you for sharing your loss and the feelings about it.