Life

Grandparents Leave a Legacy

My Papa could do no wrong in my eyes. He was my hero. He understood me like no other and I understood him the same. We had a special bond that we treasured.

I had the privilege of being born the month after my Papa retired. He owned a shoe store in town, was part of town counsel, and was involved in a couple other things. He was a busy businessman and that’s how most people remember him.

Since he had retired, life slowed down for him. He finally had time to invest in his family. I never knew him differently. What I knew is that he was always available for me, ready and waiting to have some special time together.

Check out that hair of mine…I was definitely having some fun!

My Mom did the house chores every Saturday morning, which means we did too. Papa would inevitably phone us during that time and ask what we were up to. He would talk to my Mom for a bit and then ask her to pass the phone to me.

He would ask me what I was doing. When I told him chores, he would ask if I was getting paid for it. I’d tell him no. He’d proceed to go into a pretend outrage proclaiming that was “child labour law”! He would demand that Mom stop the “work” immediately and drive me into town so he could “pay me proper”.

That led to Saturday morning breakfasts at the special diner in town. I remember sitting on the spinning stools, next to my Papa, feeling like a little princess. The restaurant had a turquoise Hamilton Beach milkshake maker. I thought it was the coolest thing. They would give me a milkshake in the steel cup they churned the shake in. I’d play with the condensation dripping off the side. I was joyfully content.

When he’d introduce me to the waitresses in the diner (every week), he’d say they were “his old girlfriend from high school”. He’d turn his head and wink at me as he said it. He was a charmer. The women knew the line and would laugh each time he said it.

Our special restaurant

He was always dressed up. He wore his classy fedora hat whenever he left the house. He had a certain special way he’d put it on. His middle finger would hold one side of the top crease and his thumb the other. He’d tip it upside down and then flip it up on his head in style.

He wore a dress shirt and slacks every day no matter what he was doing. He had a special pink cardigan too.

He never drove. He walked most places around town. But he made sure to have a “baby blue car to go with his baby blue eyes”. Thankfully Nana drove so the car didn’t just sit there.

Papa was the “loonie man”. He attended all of my brother’s and my events. If my brother was playing hockey, Papa would give me a loonie for cheerleading, even though I didn’t pay attention to half of the game. My brother would get a loonie for playing as well.

Papa loved toys. He had penny munching machines. He had one machine that if you pressed a button, a worm would come out of an apple and take the penny from your hand. He had a metal gumball machine. He’d give us some change to get a gumball each time we were in his room.

He was a smoker. I would lean against his bed post and chat with him when he was lying in bed watching sports. I can still remember the scent of wood and smoke. It was distinct. It’ll stop me dead in my tracks when I catch a whiff of that smell someplace even to this day.

When you asked him his name, he would say, “it is George Anthony Bruce Clarkson Ermison Bomblickity Henton Steam Shovel Richardson”. His actual name being Theodore Arthur Richardson.

The day he passed away was one of the saddest moments in my life. That man gave me the greatest sense of peace, joy, and innocence. He was a beautiful loving person. Sure, he had his quirks. He used to yell at everyone coming up and down the stairs not to run. But I knew when he did that it was because he wanted to love and protect us.

Why do I tell you these random bits about my Papa? One, because I love him and love to talk about him. Two, because I want to make you think about your own families. Life is fleeting. Papa and I only had a short time together. He passed when I was seven. But he left a wonderful legacy in my life.

My Papa taught me generosity. He taught me to enjoy life and to not be afraid to be a kid every now and then. He showed me love. He taught me to listen, to respect my parents, to live life and have fun. He marked my life in incredible ways.

My best friend…and shockingly not wearing a fedora

He was so worried that I would forget about him when he passed. Instead, his life imprinted great values into mine; ones I will carry with me until the day I die. There are still times that I miss him so much. There are events in my life I greatly wish he could have been a part of.

I enjoy the fact that I will one day rejoice side by side with him. He showed me a glimpse of Jesus. He showed me how to be His hands and feet.

Life moves quickly. If you have grandkids, try to make them a priority. Do special things with them while they’re young. Make those memories special. Children watch your every move. They face a lot in school and with friends. They need your comfort and encouragement. They need a safe and special place.

I struggled with self-esteem and friendships as a child. But, when I was around my Papa, all of those feelings faded away. He knew my heart and knew how to speak to me. He knew when I needed a little pick-me-up.

Be Jesus to your grandkids, listen to their little hearts, and love them as deeply as you can. They are precious and so are you.

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