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Remembering “Big Al”

My grandfather passed away last week. Sunday, January 12th, 2020, in the early hours of the morning. We said our final goodbyes this weekend as we laid him to rest beside his wife, who passed away in 2006.

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Al as a child, riding a cow home from school. Saskatchewan is weird, y’all.

It feels strange to blog about this, since it’s something so close and personal… and yet, it also feels right to share the stories and experiences of growing up at the lake, eating margarine-and-ketchup sandwiches (don’t ask), and being on the receiving end of a lot of life lessons, like “make sure you sit in every boat/van before you buy one” and “always check the gas in the boat before taking all the grandkids out on the lake”. 

Grandpa Al, or “Big Al”, was firm, but fair, and he had so much love for all of his grandkids. He always actively supported our interests, attending sports games and band concerts equally. He was always SO patient with all of us, and believe me – we pushed his patience to the limits, I’m sure. You can only have around 10-15 people in a two bedroom cabin for so long before you get told “I think it’s time for everyone to go home.”

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Grandpa loved to joke around, and often teased people just to get a rise out of them. I remember one summer at the lake, I went into the bedroom to find that he had hung all of my bras from the ceiling fan. I was only about 13-14 at the time, and was totally mortified – but he thought it was hilarious. He always had a witty response to questions, and would sit there with a smirk on his face, waiting to see if you got the joke.

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Al and Jane. I have no idea when this photo was taken, but there are many, many more just like it throughout the years. 

My grandfather loved his wife dearly, and I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with them as a kid. In kindergarten, I would take a taxi to their flower shop after school and hang out in the back room while I waited for my parents to pick me up after work. One summer, we were moving houses but the possession dates didn’t line up… so I ended up living with my grandparents for a few months, and Grandpa would drive me to school everyday (a luxury I definitely enjoyed!). Watching the love between my grandparents was inspiring – the way my grandfather took care of his wife unconditionally, especially as her health deteriorated. The way they always opened their homes and hearts to anyone – especially kids and dogs.

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Grandpa and Griffey, our chocolate lab. These two were total kindred spirits. 

This past week, I was able to honour my grandfather the best way I knew how – by playing the flute in the choir at the funeral service. My grandfather always enjoyed listening to me play in the church choir when I was a kid/teen, and I am glad that I was able to play for him one last time.

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Honouring my grandfather the best way I know how. 

As much as it hurts to lose someone you’re close to, I’m grateful that my grandfather is now at peace, and has reunited with his wife. There is no more pain and suffering, and there is no more shame – only love, and light. It was a blessing to bring the whole family together again, and to reflect on memories of our childhood summers spent at the lake, flipping through photo albums of bad haircuts and questionable fashion (the 90’s was a confusing time). As we’ve all grown, most of us with families of our own, we’ve gone our separate ways – but we’re still bound together by the love our grandparents showed to us, and the memories we share.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. 

 

 

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