He was 90 years old and when I first heard a few weeks ago of his unwell state, I was certain there would be a medical breakthrough and immortality would be discovered through him. There was no man more stubborn. But Death won, as He usually does, and my Grandad passed away.
His illness and passing has revisited a number of complex emotions in me and thus, it has been a difficult week. Due to good 'ol family drama, I have gone through blinding anger, terrible remorse and unhealthy doses of anxiety since last Saturday. Mix that with the hectic last week of school for my kids, and you get the emotional, sleepless lump that sits at this keyboard. But more on that later.
Francis (Frank) Ambrose Christian was one of thirteen kids to my Great-Grandparents. Like many other men his age, he lied to enlist to fight for his country during WWII.
Grandad worked for the post office, and in the RCMP. He married my Nanny, Pauline, in 1948 and their only child is my Dad. They were married 55 years when she died of cancer a decade ago.
My Grandad kept an extremely active social life right up until the end: volunteering at the veteran hospital, playing cards, and travelling the world with his second wife. He was also a member of several organizations, like the Knights of Columbus. Apparently they gave him a proper send-off at the funeral.
Due to family drama, I could not attend the funeral, but chose a beautiful arrangement to be sent. Had the flower company not royally screwed up my order, my bouquet might be sitting on his grave now, but instead, they did and it is not. My cousin went to the service however, and informs me it was lovely. (I <3 you Scotty).
My relationship with my Grandad was strained as I became an adult, and we always found each other awkward, I think. I certainly admired his no-bullshit attitude toward life, even if I was never quite good enough for him.
|Grandad and I, 2010.|
Favorite memories of Grandad:
- Images of him lounging in his mushy lazyboy that always looked as though it was swallowing him.
- That he always took us around the corner for donairs at Toulany's when we visited, or brought it to us if he came out west. He reminded us every time that it was he who signed Bash's papers for him to stay in Canada, even though we'd heard it many times before.
- He and Nan would always buy some Little Debbie desert for my brother and I when we visited. And because they wouldn't eat it after we left, they always made us eat like, 7 of them.
- Every visit, right up until the last, included a tour of first: the tiny living room, which held a barrage of framed photos of all his various encounters with famous politicians or some such person, and then the rest of the house, even though I could walk it in my sleep to this day.
- His smell. Even though we had our differences, thinking of his smell brings tears to my eyes.
- The fact that his birthday often coincided with Thanksgiving, and if we were over in Halifax for it, we would have a turkey dinner and decorate his cake with "Happy Franksgiving."
- The fact that children were so completely alien to him, he once gave my kids random slices of processed cheese as a snack one visit. Oh my God, that was hilarious. I think I have a picture of that, it was so ridiculous. Hang on. There it is:)
Yeah, my Grandad was a hard man, but he was very proud of his accomplishments and the many influential people he met throughout his long life. I love you, Grandad, RIP.