Monday, February 6, 2012

A Grandfather's Legacy

My grandfather, the one I knew and grew up with, was William Edward Goodall. He was born April 17th 1914 and died February 7th, 1982. He was my Pa. 

I remember exactly the night he died...lottery night. I was getting ready for bed when the phone was after 11:00pm. Good news never comes at that hour. As soon as I heard mom's footsteps rushing up the stairs, I felt it was my grandma, Nanny. No, it was Pa. The car ride over I knew he was gone.

I remember the hospital waiting room and leaving my Nanny's side so my uncle could sit with his mom. I still see myself walking, then running down the hallway to my daddy. I was eight months shy of my 19th birthday and my Pa had just died.

I wasn't sure if I could handle seeing him in his coffin. I did. I wasn't sure I could handle seeing the coffin close, but I had to, for me. I had to witness this final goodbye. I remember sitting and slightly hiccuping from tears when a hand touched my shoulder. It was my Great-Aunt Jeanie's hand, Nanny's sister. We always were a close family. We're more spread out now, but we're there, just a phone call away.

My Pa never could teach me cribbage. Nope, I never got passed 15-2-and a pair don't score. Think it's the only card game he just couldn't get to sink into my head.

We spent a lot of time getting into trouble together. Every time we went to a restaurant mom, dad, and nanny would try and get us to sit apart, at least have someone between us. Nope, never worked. We always ended up either side by side or across from each other. I swear it wasn't me, it was all Pa's fault.

I still haven't figured out Pa's trick of sleeping, snoring, and yet change the TV channel and he would say "I was watching that." How? You were sleeping and snoring? But, Pa would repeat what had just happened on the TV.

Pancakes and Bran muffins. Both foods needed to learn how to swim given the amount of syrup and butter he would use.

Oh and surprises. I believe he filled the house with 45 red roses for his and Nanny's 45th anniversary. Then there was the time he got dad to help sneak a TV up to the bedroom for Nanny.

Oh, and I've been told I semi-ruined a surprise birthday party mom and everyone planned for him. But, Pa, he had the last laugh. He never let on. He watched them all try and plan around him. Sneak around. Get him positioned for the cake reveal and then smiled his smartie-pants smile and said "I knew all along, Meatball told me."

Yes, I was meatball to his dirty bird. Or, dirty bird to his meatball. Somehow we ended up with dirty ole meatball. Don't ask, I'm not sharing. Mom got dad to stop calling me these, but she couldn't get Pa to stop.

Oh and another surprise. Christmas and the pocket watch. Mom and dad's gifts to Nanny and Pa were a pocket watch and a watch necklace. I knew. Knew for months. One of the very first sentences from Pa, after come you didn't tell me. Nope, that surprise I kept.

Oh there's many memories and even more stories, but space is limited. Like when Pa rode my bike because we said he couldn't...he would break something. Or when Pa took up bowling. Or when the first time I saw Pa without his teeth I nearly wet the bed laughing...silly Pa kept poking his head back in without his dang teeth in. And I kept laughing. Or how he would hold on to one puzzle piece so he could put in the last one. Or how peeling potatoes was his job. His two heart attacks before mom and dad were married, when he told them to continue. His pipe.

He's been gone 30 years, but still I feel him around me. Yes, I have been visited by my Pa. I was working in an office as a receptionist. No one was around me, no one had passed by, no one was out in the hall, and no one smoked a pipe. I was typing when I smelled my Pa's pipe, felt his hand on my right shoulder...I feel it there now, too. I knew he was behind me.

I have smelled his pipe a few times over the years. I know he's near.

Even though others had told me this, it was his words I truly heard. It was the day I quit Grade 13. In Ontario, at the time, we finished high school at Grade 12 and then either went to college or onward to Grade 13 and then University. The second week of Grade 13 and I knew this wasn't my path. I went in to quit and then down to my Nanny and Pa's. I never knew there was an easier way to get there, so I took the longer bus route. Never knew my Pa drove out looking for me when I didn't show up when I was supposed to...let's see, only twenty minutes late.

I was upset for letting them parents, my grandparents. No one was let down. No one was disappointed in me, but at that age we don't always hear.

Pa looked at me and said "It's your life. You live it for you and what's best for you. Never mind what anyone else wants." Probably the only real time Pa gave advice to me, but all these years later it still sits in my heart.

Love you, Pa...dirty ole meatball.