I had the great honour and privilege of speaking at my Grandfather’s funeral. Here is what I said (sadly I added a few ad-libbed anecdotes not here, when I do my full memorial post on the blog I hope I am able to share those memories with you):
Thank you everyone for coming today. Thank you for your support and for sharing in the rememberance of my Papa.
Today is a sad day, I’ve never known such profound sadness in my short time on this earth. But I wanted to stand up here and talk to you all today because I don’t think my Papa would want us to be sad. I think it would be important to him that we come away from here today remembering the good times and the joy he brought in to our lives.
I believe this because when I think back on my grandfather’s life I can’t find unhappieness before this last month. He was a special man, I’ve never known anyone like him. I’ve never known a man who so universally loved, a man whose smile and kind approach to life was so endearing.
I was lucky growing up instead of day care I got to spend my before and after school time with my grandparents. It gave me a unique opportunity to spend time with them and the bonds we formed lasted a life time. Some of my earliest and best memories are of spending time playing outside with Papa. Walking Erin, my grandparents cocker spaniel. Riding my tricycle. Playing with whatever toy I was fascinated with at that moment.
All of this at my Papa’s side while we talked away… honestly we mostly talked about the weather. If you ever wanted to know the weather back in those days you just had to ask one of us. (aside) Luckily we added the Blue Jays, Wayne Rooney and the price of gas to our conversational repertoire over the years.
Papa probably had the biggest impact on my life when he helped turn me in to a giant nerd. He would actively encourage me and help me use his commodore 64 computer every day after school. Later when he upgraded to an Amiga 500 he also introduced me to the world of pirated software. Honestly, he had a collection of computer games that puts me to shame.
As I got older and was able to walk to school myself I was lucky that I still got to spend plenty of time with my grandparents. Before and after school rituals were replaced with Sunday dinners and eventually the whole family started spending our summers together up north. At an age when many kids start to spend less time with their family I was fortunate to, if anything, spend more. It was great.
Over the years Papa and I got to spend summers together watching baseball, boating and even ATVing! (Papa got to see the Blue Jays win two world series in his life time, I likely will only get to see the Blue Jays win two world series in my life time as well). While everyone else would go to bingo Papa and I would stay behind and chat about what was in the news while we’d watch the baseball game.
These are all great memories and only in the last few years have I really come to appreciate the net impact of them on me as a person. I’ve come to realize that many of my best qualities have come from him.
I realize now that his “keep a smile” and optimistic approach to life has rubbed off on me.
That my ability to let things roll off my shoulder by and large comes from him.
That by being there for me through thick and thin, even retiring so he could spend more time with my sisters and I he taught me the value of love and family.
This was my Papa. He was a special man who kept an optimistic smile, who let things roll off his shoulder and above all loved his family.
I am who I am today because of Papa, and for that I owe him more than simple words can express. I’m thankful that I came to this realization well before today. It gave me the opportunity to cherish these last few years, to fully appreciate everything he meant to me and my family.
I’m glad he got to meet and bond with my darling wife Tammy.
I’m glad that he and my daughter Paige were fast friends, the best of buds.
More than anything I’m glad for each of the 29 years we’ve got to spend together.
So I leave you now with only one request. Leave here today glad about something he gave you. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.