Friday, June 15, 2012
Larger than life. Life of the party. Not the usual way a grandchild talks about their Grandpa. But then again, he was anything but usual. The stereotypical Grandpa who sat in his chair and napped while the world turned around him, he was not. When Grandpa was around, he made our world turn. We will all tell you our fondest and earliest memories are swimming our childhood away in his meticulously cared for pool. As kids, we would wake up just in time to watch him pull the cover off the pool, and open the backyard for business. He stocked the shack with frozen treats, pool toys, and one lovely port-a-potty so Grandma could keep her house looking as though a dozen wet kids didn’t run through her dining room as much as we secretly did.
Whether he was cooking us all brunch with waffles and plenty of bacon, insisting we wear the full line of Kalium promotional t-shirts and hats to look as pearly white after a week in the pool as we did before, or convincing us there was a special chemical in the pool that would turn it red if we peed, everything he did was for us. But the best part about being his grandchild? He was ALWAYS the first adult to jump in the pool. He was always willing to start an intense game of volleyball, always willing to play baseball on the lawn, always willing to throw a sullen teenager fully clothed in the pool. Grandpa was always fun. We all knew the rules. No food in the pool. No drinks in the pool. No splashing those outside the pool, unless it was Grandpa doing the splashing, then we were free to join in. The final rule about Grandpa’s place in the summer? Stand about as far away as you could get when he’s about to start the bonfire. He’s used gasoline, and a lot of it.
Between Grandpa sneaking us down a backroad for the airshow, which I’m sure CFB Moose Jaw didn’t authorize, or the Grandpa shuffle, which bore a striking resemblance to Fred Flinstone, of course the summer memories are vivid, but the rest of the year was anything but quiet when Grandpa was around. My sister, brother and I will never forget a ‘jigging” competition between our Grandpas at Christmas. It got a little out of control and ended with one Grandpa unable to catch his breath from laughing, and Grandpa Hunter just about going through their glass door. On another Christmas, taking the traditional walk after supper, Grandpa couldn’t help but notice one yard that looked beautiful, but maybe a little boring. This couple prided themselves on the snow being kept beautifully smooth, and while the lights were in fact gorgeous, it looked a little stuffy. Before anyone knew what happened, Grandpa was in the middle, creating the most glorious snow angel he had ever made.
The other thing that set our Grandpa apart from the crowd was his adventurous spirit. White water rafting for his 70th birthday, tubing at 78 year young despite worry from Ireland, Danielle’s stepdaughter, as she watched from the back of the boat, terrified they were going a little too fast for a Grandpa. Tai remembers speed boating with Grandpa in Wisconsin. We remember Grandpa playing cowboy and jumping on a horse for thrills with Grandpa Reamer.. not a fear in the world. Grandpa was a living reminder that you are only as old as you feel. In fact, ask Justin who the last man standing was at his bachelor party.
Grandpa was always up for anything. One of the last weekends we spent together as a family at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Uncle Blair brought a Costco size box of fireworks with him. You can all imagine what happened. They set them up in the valley across the street from the house. After getting warned by my dad and Grandpa to stay on the lawn of their house, the show began. The first firework went off and we all felt like we were at July 1st. The second firework went off and we all got backed up because it seemed a little close to the house. By the third firework, we all scattered in different directions as the firework repeatedly exploded towards the neighbour’s house. Suddenly the show kept going, and if you ask anyone who was taking cover, it felt like the longest show we had ever seen. Mandy was horrified, and when she ran into Grandpa worried about what was happening, all Grandpa responded was “I don’t like that guy anyway.”
His zest for life transferred into his love for his grandchildren. One thing we all knew without question was that our Grandpa loved us with such a fervent adoration that his love pinches actually hurt sometimes. In fact, a few years ago Chris trademarked them as ‘Grandpa style’. When he yelled “Kissing time!!”, all grandchildren, no matter their age, must comply. And gladly we did, since for as long as we could remember, our Grandpa had showed such exuberant affection and love towards us all. As we grew older, we realized that while Grandpa loved playing with all us grandchildren, snuggling his newborn grandchildren, and eventually great grandchildren gave him a sort of happiness unparalleled to all others. Quite simply, Grandpa loved being just that, a Grandpa.