Grandparents: I had a Soft Spot for Grandpa

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  ~A.A. Milne

The love between a grandparent and a grandchild is something special.  It’s something quite different from that of a parent and child.  Grandparents often hear our secrets, spoil us rotten, and understand us in ways that few others do. We believe we can do anything and it’s because they told us so.

I recently reached out to three people I know to share what they loved most about their grandparents.

This week, I’ll share their heartwarming stories in three separate posts.

Get your kleenex ready.

 

 

Alec Whitfield
Stories shared by his granddaughter, Emma

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A favourite picture of the two of us.  This photo reminds me of how consistent my Grandpa was in my life.

 

 

Grandpa was the kindest, gentlest, loving man I have ever met.  
It’s not something that I can easily explain, but there was an extra special bond between my Grandpa and myself and it was just “fact”–and I think we both liked it that way.

I had a soft spot for Grandpa and he had a soft spot for me.  

He was quick with his humour, often rolling out pun after pun with a quiet giggle to follow. He was always searching out a new joke to share at Rotary, usually so full of low brow humour that the groans were as loud as the laughter.

One thing that I especially loved about my Grandpa was that he was always playful.  He was known on one occasion (and with some help of my Grandma), to show up as the 4th player at a ladies’ bridge lunch in a dress and bonnet.

For weeks I would get a call here and there…”We found another one, you rascal!” followed by giggles of laughter.

On many occasions as we were leaving London to head back to our home in Toronto, I would take it upon myself to run around the basement hiding pictures of my sister and I (taken from the photo boxes) in drawers, on the laundry line, under cans of soup–wherever Grandpa might find them.


When my Grandparents came to Toronto–I was moved into my sister’s room so that they could use my bedroom.  And once they left, I returned to my room, only to find a picture of Grandma and Grandpa tucked under my pillow, left by Grandpa.

 

My Grandpa wrote my sister and I letters from about the time we were 8 and 9 years old.

 

We received these letters on our birthdays and while we attended summer camp. The letters were like mini history lessons. My Grandpa had pretty much a photographic memory (which actually kept him from being enlisted in the war because the company he worked for, Emco, was being used for ammunitions and he was the only person who knew all the parts codes from memory!)


He knew how to work hard.
He was one of 13 children, in a family raised in South-Western Ontario, mostly in London, where he was responsible for peeling potatoes at a young age and walking the railway tracks to look for coal or wood that had fallen off the trains so that he could take them back to help heat the family home.

 

I will say that the person who reminds me most of my Grandpa is my husband.

 

They only met once for a short afternoon in the winter before he passed away, but my husband and Grandpa share so many similarities when it comes to humour and disposition that I swear in another life they must have crossed paths!

Grandma and Grandpa both died in 2013. Grandpa passed away on April 1st (perhaps fitting that it was April Fool’s for a man who loved a good laugh) and my Grandma the following August.  I take great comfort in knowing they are together, hand in hand, exactly how they’d like to be.

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After he passed away, and before my wedding day, I got a tattoo of his signature on my wrist.  A reminder of the imprint his words and his stories and his wisdom have had on my life.

It is rarely a day that goes by that I am not reminded of something he did or said.  I take those moments as his way of letting me know he’s always with me.

 

Writer’s Note: This story was shared by Alec’s granddaughter, Emma.  I met Emma when I was in university at Brock.  We were both in the education program.  We haven’t seen each other in 15 years and only connect by seeing each other’s lives through Facebook posts.  

But I remember when Emma’s grandpa passed away.

She wrote the most beautiful post, sharing all of the things she loved about him.  How he was the first person to teach her how to write a cheque, how they played competitive games of scrabble together…her words were simple and honest.  I could tell how much he meant to her.

So when I decided to put together this blog post, I immediately thought of her.  A quick message through Facebook and it was as though 15 years hadn’t passed.  Within the day, Emma sent me her story about her grandpa.  I hope you enjoyed reading it.  

2 thoughts on “Grandparents: I had a Soft Spot for Grandpa

  1. Aynsley says:

    I love hearing stories of family tales. It’s amazing what special people pass through our lives and touch us and generations to come in the retelling. Can’t wait to hear more!!

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