Behind the Man
He was a great grandfather, a grandfather, a father, a brother, and a best friend. To me he was both a grandfather and a best friend. He taught me to ride a bike, to drive, to fish, the significance of family, and helped me to be where I am in my career today. I always knew he did a lot for people but never really knew how much until after he passed. People started talking about him and all the great things he did throughout his life.
I will miss his genuine smile, his warm approach to every day, and his sense of humor. He was a very smart, well educated, and well spoken with an answer for my every question. His sacrifice definitely showed as he often would tell me about the plants and work he did throughout his life. He was one of the youngest 1st Class engineers in BC in his time going through school while working, and raising his two young daughters at the time. I can’t even imagine how hard it would of been to study with two little girls running around plus the common stresses of work. This is a time where people had to do all their calculations on paper without calculators.
His work ethic was pretty sound taking everything from a job as a pearl diver (dish washer) for a camp to shoveling tons of frozen coal to work his way up to trouble shooting power plants across North America. I learned from my family that he once worked 2 weeks of his vacation for a local construction company just so he could afford to take his family on vacation. Hard work was never something he was afraid of. Even during his last days I found him outside working on the electronics of shower cleaner outside. I was told months earlier he was outside pulling on a rope to help fall a tree despite his health.
Most of the time when I’d visit he’d be watching the BC Lions, the Vancouver Canucks, or a curling bonspiel. He never missed a Canucks game, and I think my sister would be right in calling him their biggest fan. He was an accomplished curler, and outdoors man. We’d often go walk across the train tressel or by the river near by. Whether anyone was around or not he’d be outside doing something.
If he wasn’t watching one of the games he’d be out doing carpentry, gardening, visiting with the neighbors or off on a walk. I was always impressed by how he knew every person for miles which is something not too common these days. When he said hello to people he said it with warmth and genuinely meant it. He often talked about Royston, BC as God’s country and tease me on the phone about it knowing that it was often -21c or colder in Alberta while they were mowing their lawns out there.
I often found him watching western films when I visited, and he’d talk about the places he’d lived like Wyoming. He’d often be seen wearing one of his belt buckles and on special occasions a bolo made for him. He’d talk of how he lived on the prairies as a boy and how the dog would run down coyotes. I think he missed it but that sure didn’t stop him from being outside. He would often talk about a trip where my family went riding and would laugh when talking about my cousin who was at the time a toddler having to frequently get off the horse to pee but never actually going.
He’d tell me about going out with his brother and his first truck a Ford which he purchased for $16. He’d tell me about how heavy his bike was and riding it up the hill in Kimberly, BC. I’d often hear about stories about the power plants he worked in and the crazy things that would happen. How he would leave a plant after troubleshooting it for GE only to have to come back days later when the plant managers would mess it up again. In those times in the US the plants didn’t have the training that they do today and they’d call on his expertise and experience to work things out. I remember him telling me that he saved a company $1o million dollars and all they gave him was a stereo for it. That stereo was found blaring for years and was definitely made good use of.
He was a pretty innovative guy and loved to make stuff. I recall them complaining about the deer constantly eating their roses. So one day when I was visiting I found him outside attaching a motion sensor light to the sprinkler so that any time the deer would try to eat the roses they would get nailed with the sprinkler. This worked out great for a while until delivery people started getting it and the sprinkler system was retired.
I often remember going out to his shop and seeing him working on some wood project. He’d be working on the lathe and often covered in wood dust. I was impressed by the cars, chairs, and ornate wood chests he made for the family. If he wasn’t there he would be just out back chopping wood from the giant wood shed just in case they needed some wood. It was always fully loaded and then some. He often told me about how he used to go out and chop wood for fun.
I remember being up on the roof one time and being lowered down by a rope to clean out the eaves troffs. There was a lot of moss up there and it was rather slippery that day. We were rather lucky because as we were heading towards the edge of the roof he slipped stopping just before the edge. He was always a man to take care of things. I really learned a lot about odd jobs from him like soldering the pipes below the four plex. I remember we didn’t quite get it right and him yelling to turn it off because the water was spraying in the dirt crawl space. That was a really gross job but it taught me a lot about the sacrifices it takes to own something.
One time I went over and he decided he was going to do some work on his old blue Pontiac. The side had been pushed in and he was going to do the auto body work himself. We were shocked to find the pushed in side popped out after just one hit with a rubber mallet. Shortly after we repainted the car with spray paint and sold the car. He always loved his cars and in all his years of driving never got a single ticket except when his daughters got one for him while he was in respite care after massive heart surgery. He quietly went out and paid for it not telling them because that was the kind of man he was.
He once went with my sister in the middle of the night to Future Shop on boxing day to help her buy her video camera. That video camera became the start of my sister Maureen’s career in the film industry in Vancouver. Most of my family can tell you similar stories like this myself included.
These are just a few things about a great man. He was my grandfather and I’ll really miss him,
“It is not strength but the duration of great sentiments that makes great men.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche