Friday, January 01, 2010

Sad New Year

My grandpa passed away this afternoon. I got the call from my mom. She said he had been taken to the hospital this morning with very laboured breathing. He fell unconscious and passed away early this afternoon. He would have been 92 years old on January 25th. He was my last surviving grandparent.

I was always amazed by my grandpa. He lived on his own once grandma passed away in September of 2005. He was in the house by himself until he was 90. Since the spring of 2008 he has slowly declined in health to the point that he was unable to walk anymore and late in 2008 he moved into a nursing home. I think we were all happy that he was finally being looked after. We didn't have to worry that he would fall down the narrow slippery steps in his house. Or worry that he was out driving (even though he passed his road test a couple of years ago, he was a pretty scary driver in the last few years).

Grandpa was always a fighter. He was physically disabled for almost all of his life. From what I understand he came down with a bad infection when he was a boy, and it got into his bones and joints. He spent months at the Mayo Clinic by himself when he was only very young (maybe around 8 or 10 years old) because apparently back then there was a stigma attached to being the parent of a disabled child. I don't know all the details because he never talked about it much until the last few years to his daughters. He was a very private person when it came to personal matters. After all was said and done, he ended up with one leg that was approximately six inches shorter than the other. Also the knee on that leg became fused so he was unable to bend it at all. It also affected one of his shoulders and elbows. He had very restricted range of motion in those joints. However, he was always independent. I remember him telling me about gym class in school when the kids were climbing a rope and made fun of him when it was his turn to climb. He said he set his mind to it and shimmied up that rope faster than most of the other boys because he had developed great upper body strength to compensate for his disability.

He went to university and obtained a degree in geology and for most of his career he worked for Gulf Oil. He was very smart, and well read. He had a great interest in archaeology. In his retirement, him and grandma did a ton of traveling. I know their favorite thing they did was an African safari. I remember hearing about how there were lions rubbing up against their tents at night, and how a monkey swung out of a tree he was sitting under and stole his sandwich right out of his hand.

He lived a very full life and he will be missed greatly. I am so thankful that Jason got to meet him in the summer of 2008. Even though he was in the hospital at the time, and not feeling very well, he put on a brave face and we had a nice visit. I am also so thankful that I made the effort to get out to Calgary to visit him in May of 2009. I don't know yet when the funeral will be, but sometime next week I will be heading out to Calgary for a couple of days.

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