Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is: "When we were wee." The minute Laini suggested it my brain went back to when I was a little girl. I have posted about my grandfather before, and I have also posted a picture of when my grandparents were young. But when Laini suggested that prompt I started thinking about my grandparents and the rest of my family more than I have for a long time.

Until I was six my family lived at a summer camp. My Dad was the director and my Mom was the administrator. I lived in a land where both of my parents were around most of the time. Thanks to the camp I also had dozens of surrogate big brothers and sisters. I had young aunts and uncles who spent lots of time with us and I also had young and active grandparents. I realize now how unusual and creative and special that time was.

When we moved away from the camp we moved to a large farm house in the country. Cold, drafty, leaky, and with a lane that filled in every time a flake of snow fell, 'the farm' has become a legend in our lives. My brother and I never really paid attention to the work that my parents had to do to keep us warm and dry. As children we saw it as a lovely big house with a secret passage closet and a creepy root cellar and a barn big and empty enough to play in. We played in the snow that my Dad had to plow, we explored the fields and watched for deer, and generally enjoyed helping to put buckets under the drips that came through the ceiling in the spring, or eating pancakes Mom cooked over the wood stove when the power went out in the winter.

The other legend that has grown in our family is that of my Grandfather. I often feel sorry for people who have joined our family since he died. We all speak of him with such reverence and so often that I am sure that the new additions will soon grow tired of hearing about him if they haven't already. When he was alive he wasn't perfect. He was a real worrier. But he was also very honest and very loving. He was a man who worked all of his life for Canadian General Electric. I remember waiting for him to come home from work when I was staying with them. He would walk up the drive carrying his lunchbox and gloves and he would stand under the window and wave at us until his gloves flew off and he had to chase them. We would reward him with gales of laughter. Then he would come inside and give us hugs. I remember that he smelled like working and fresh air.

As a family we would spend a few weeks every summer camping at Algonquin Park in Ontario. Happiest when he was canoeing or hiking or camping or walking, Grandpa would be the center we all played around. I remember as a teenager when I would be trying to sleep in (as teenagers do) Grandpa would open up the tent, or lift the side of the canvas trailer and present me with a piece of toast with jam. Not leaving until I'd eaten every bite, he would succeed in getting me up when most other attempts would have failed. He wanted us all around him as much as we wanted to be there. He was a man who loved his family. Full of mischief, he was always the one to give a baby its first taste of ice cream. He would put pennies in a plant for me to find and tell me that the leprechauns left them. He wanted his grandchildren to believe in magic.

I think that that is the reason that he has become our legend. I also think that it is the reason that we continue to be such a close, loving family. No matter what was going on, it was important to him that we be around. Family was the most important thing in his life and he taught us to feel the same way. He made each and every one of us feel like he loved us best. My most precious memory of him (and the one that makes me tear up every single time I think about it) was something that did not happen just once. Every single time I saw my Grandpa he would give me a hug and say, "You're a pretty special girl you know." And right then I believed him.

What I wouldn't give to have one of those hugs again.

30 comments:

Jennifer said...

What lovely and wonderful sentiments. My Grandpa was so special to me too... I love remembering.

Jessie said...

mmm--this was wonderful megg. i woke up this morning also thinking about my grandpa. he passed away last summer. my grandma is returning from her winter home this weekend and it will now be the second time that she's returned without him. it's still hard to accept the fact that he's gone for good because he is so crystal clear in my thoughts. this piece made me cry--because i miss my grandpa also. he had a smile (and hugs) that i don't think i will ever stop missing.

thank you for your story.
luv,
j.

GreenishLady said...

This was a wonderful portrait of such a special man. I really got captured by that line "I remember that he smelled like working and fresh air." Yes. This was special. Thank you.

Paris Parfait said...

Lovely story! The part about your grandfather brought tears to my eyes. I was lucky enough to have a special grandfather, too. We are fortunate to have wonderful memories of a happy time.

Maggie said...

I lost my grandfather almost exactly 14 months ago, and this post moved me to tears. Like yours, he is physically absent but very, very present in conversation. When I am at his house, everything is a tangible memory of him. I loved the way you described your grandfather as smelling like "working and fresh air." All your stories are beautiful. Thank you.

Laini Taylor said...

Meg, this is so beautiful and filled with such life, so many special details. What a lucky girl you were to have such a childhood and grandfather! I had a similar grandfather, one about whom so many stories are told -- but he was a great-grandfather, alas, and died when I was still a toddler. So all I have of him is the picture of him holding me on his knee and holding up a peach as I toothlessly mowed through it, dripping with juice. That, and his tall tales, come down through my father. Ah, family!

Susannah said...

Oh Megg, what a beautiful post. thank you for sharing that. he sounds like the kind of grandfather i wish i'd had. what an amazing gift to treasure in your heart- he is around you now, i have no doubt of that. hugs to you from along the coastline.. Sx

Kerstin said...

A beautiful post, Megg, you can feel the warmth and love within every word you express. The photo reminds me of a very similar one I have of my grandfather carrying me! I can see why yours called you a pretty special girl :)

Nichole said...

"... he smelled like working and fresh air ..."

I know just the smell you mean! Thank you so much for sharing your memories.

AnnieElf said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AnnieElf said...

I just adored my grandfather. He had the biggest hands in the world and saved me from a huge black bumble bee with one of those big callused hands. Thanks so much for writing your story and resurrecting that memory.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

sweet memories!

Jennifer said...

This says so much: "I often feel sorry for people who have joined our family since he died."

I love it that you had a grandfather who did this: he would stand under the window and wave at us until his gloves flew off and he had to chase them.

This entire piece is so full of things to hold - and these words: "You're a pretty special girl you know." Who can ever, ever, hear that enough - especially from someone they trust and love? Thank you so much for this! (and for the sunday scribblings)

Marilyn said...

What sweet and poignant memories to. It sounds nearly idyllic. Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man.

GoGo said...

Thanks for channeling the story of your childhood and grandfather. Found memories keep us connected to both our past and our futures.
:O)

Cate said...

No finer man than the one you describe, Meg. Every family needs their own legend--makes them remember what is important. I am so, so grateful that you were blessed to have had your grandfather in your life.

As I was reading (and I saved your Scribbing for this morning, to read as a treat while I drank my coffee-thank you!), I kept thinking, Meg could use her camp experiences in a book. Then, I realized that you HAD used them in a book and now I want, want, want to own that book! It's odd because my dad, who grew up on a farm like you described and is a fairly tough fellow, has told me that the one thing that he would have liked to have done as a child was gone to camp! Me, too! Oh, please post more stories about your experiences--what a fabulous childhood to have lived!

Also, I've gotta know: do your parents still live on the farm? If not, have you ever been able to visit it, or the camp?

Oh, thank you, Meg, for your writing. Also, thanks to you and Laini again for coming up with SS and such great topics--I'm loving the weekends even more now! xo

bella said...

I never knew any of my grandfathers, they passed before I was born. This was a wonderful post.

Alexandra S said...

I can see where you get your own sweet and magical personality from! To have such an adult in your life to feed you ice-cream, hide pennies in plants, your own breakfast toast with jam delivered to your tent! I wish everyone could have such a beautiful, loving grandparent as you did. I only knew one of my grandparents, as the rest had passed away before I was born, and she tried so hard I think to make up for the fact that I didn't have any others, nothing replaced the curiosity and longing to know the other three. And the first 6 years of your life at a summercamp! wow! That sounds so incredibly fun and amazing. I always remember hating to leave summer camp and to actually live there and have it be your own little kingdom of sorts- I look forward to more early tales o' yours!

Jamie said...

What a special place your grandfather has in your heart and your life. What beautiful memories.
And what a magical and free childhood you describe. No wonder you are the special spirit you are.

gkgirl said...

this is very sweet...
i especially loved the idea
of putting pennies in the plants
and saying the leprechauns left them
and of him
wanting you to all beleive in magic...

sweet.

Shannon (Sentimental) said...

That is such a loving tribute to your childhood, the memories and just the excitment of everyone elses lives. It is truly amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

That blog made me teary too. Your grandpa sounds like such a wonderful man. I wish I could have met him. I love that he would say that to you. So sweet. Words have such incredible power (both positively and negatively). As a new parent it's good for me to read that, and realize how important those comments are. You don't realize it at the time, but they are sinking in...xo

JourneyThroughLIfe said...

Thank you Meg, for immersing us for a brief moment, in the love and joy of your family. It was such a heartwarming piece.
JTL
xxx

In Otter Space said...

I never met either of my grandfathers but your line....
"He made each and every one of us feel like he loved us best." really hit me. This is the most precious gift a grandfather can give his grandchildren. So nicely said!

HoBess said...

That picture is gold and his words are twice as precious. And the way you have shared them gives me visions of family gathered around a table, comfort, laughter. I'm glad the prompt brought so much to you! And thanks again for Sunday Scribblings, it's amazing!

Kim G. said...

Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful memories. It is a good reminder for me that the time I spend with my kids is so precious and words can carry so much weight. Thank you for inspiring me to make sure that the compliments flow in a much deeper and wider path than the criticisms.

Blessings!

Adam said...

Heya Meg,
that's a really great post about grandpa. I think about him everytime we all get together and how much I miss him, how much all of us miss him. I'm proud of you for so accurately summing up the kind of amazing person he was, so others can get an understanding of what kind of an unbelievably unique and wonderful influence we were lucky enough to have in our lives. Even though us boys in the family were referred to as "Buster" and subjected to the most 'severe' whisker-rubs, we all still felt cared for and that he wanted each of us to be the very centre of his attention. I only wish we could've had more time to spend with him, but that only serves us to treasure, even greater, the time that we did have.

We missed you at Easter, but it was great to hear your voice. Hope all is well with you and Mark in England, and I'm looking forward to seeing your website once it's 100% up and running.

Take care,

your cuz,
Adam

eliza said...

reading about the things your grandfather did for you made me want remember to do nice things for the children in my life, things that will help them believe in magic and in themselves. a lovely legacy.

Mardougrrl said...

This made me tear up, Megg. Beautiful writing, of course, but also so wistful and, well, deep. I wasn't close to my grandparents (grew up in a different country) and this makes me feel exactly what I lacked. So...thank you? LOL

liz elayne said...

meg...so very beautiful. your grandfather sounds like he was an incredible man. i love that he taught you to see the magic, to look for it and know that it is there. i am struck by the thought that he is still here in you as you notice the magic in your life now.
i want to know more about these days spent living at a summer camp. a series of children's books about this experience...wouldn't that be magical?