Saturday, 31 December 2011

The End

This week has been the end of something quite significant in our life. Not only is it the end of the year but it also represents the end of a generation for our family. When Ron & I met we had six living grandparents between the two of us. This week we said farewell to the last one. Granpda D was the only great-grandparent our kids knew well. Nathan was two when the last two great-grandparents passed away, also at this time of year, and we still had one great-grandparent left so the loss, even though it was felt, did not feel as signficant. This was a death that we had to help our kids process. We have three kids and those kids process things in three very different ways.

Nathan doesn't say too much or ask many questions. He is more reserved, quiet. I just know when he's thinking of great-grandpa. At Grandpa's viewing Nathan wanted to see Grandpa, leave Grandpa's hat in the casket with him.

Larissa cries. Larissa always cries to show her emotions. Happy, sad, frustrated, Larissa cries. Larissa wanted to look from afar. She thought Grandpa's casket looked like a very big treasure chest. She smiled with tears in her eyes when she realized it kind of was, with a very big treasure inside of it.

Bethany, well, she talks, asks questions, and then goes about her day as though she hasn't heard anything you've just said. Then, when you think she's completely forgotten about everything that's happened she's asking more questions that have come from the answers she was given an hour or more ago. There is never a question that she is afraid to ask.We would tell Bethany that the part of Granpda that made him Grandpa would not be at the funeral, just his body would be there. Will his head be there? We didn't think of the literal aspects, that takes a four year old! Where were his legs and feet? (in the closed part of the casket) Why couldn't he feel her touch? (he is dead) Why did his eyes get glued shut? (that was thanks to her uncle who got technical in the process of what happened to Granpda after he died because she apparently already knew what happened to Granpda's spirit)  If Grandpa lives with Jesus and Jesus lives in my heart does that mean Granpda lives in my heart too? I think Bethany touched every inch of skin that she could reach. She would stroke Grandpa's hands, poke his cheek, touch his chin. Touch is very important to Bethany.

Ron gave a tribute at the funeral, his words are better than mine. Grandpa D, afterall, was his Grandpa. Here it is.

Our lives all come to an end at a time that we don’t get to choose. What we do get to choose is how we live our lives and how we treat others. The legacy that Grandpa has left will stick with us for a long time.  He was a true man of God that was a living example of how we should live our lives.
My siblings and I spent some time over Christmas telling stories about Grandpa.  I think my brother summed it up best.  “Grandpa was a wise and kind man and when he said something, I knew I should remember it”.  He usually said very little, just sat in his brown checkered rocking chair with a smile on his face taking it all in.   He rarely showed any emotion other than looking pleased with us grandchildren.  I never saw him angry or even looking frustrated although I’m sure he had opportunity or reason to at some time.  Anyone remember the smell of that melting plastic boat on the woodstove downstairs while we were having supper?  I do! 
He was always interested in our lives, both when we were young and in school and later when we had kids ourselves.  He came to countless choir concerts at MCI and grads.  There were also countless band concerts by all the grandchildren in the living room at Christmas and Easter that were a prerequisite before any presents could be opened. He always asked about our kids and always looked quite pleased to hold another great-grandchild in his arms for the first time.  I think he came out to Rivers nearly every harvest since his last harvest in Lowe Farm to have a ride in the combine and was always interested in our crops. Did you know that this summer yet, Grandpa went to the local MLA to tell him how they should solve the CWB debate that has raged all summer and fall!   He still read the Co-operator up to a few years ago and there was always a FreePress and Time magazine in his apartment so we could always have a discussion about farming or US presidential politics.
Grandpa always struck me as being a progressive thinker.  He was ready to move out of his house sooner than when he “needed to”.  How many people of my generation can brag about their 80 year old grandfather learning to use a computer.  I feel so sorry for the adult ed teacher that taught him about computers here in town.  Although he was a progressive thinker, there was nothing fast about Grandpa except for how he took his naps.  10 minute naps were not uncommon and my dad remembers timing one nap at exactly 3 minutes and him waking up and stretching like he had just slept for an hour!  Grandpa did everything slowly and carefully.   Before we could eat breakfast during a sleep-over,  Grandpa would do devotions out of the Rejoice devotional book.  It took him forever to find the correct date, thumb through his Bible (this one that fell off the roof of his car into a puddle on the way to church) for the correct Scripture passage and then S L O W L Y read the devotional.  That would then be followed by an extremely long prayer and then we could eat.
The chicken at family gatherings when Grandpa cooked often looked suspiciously like the fried chicken that was being served at Chicken Chef that day.  A few of us were sent to Chicken Chef to pick up supper one evening.  We announced that we were there for the chicken for Grandpa Dueck, and we promptly left without even thinking about paying and they never said anything.  I’m sure he settled up with them the next day at coffee as he seemed to be on a first name basis with everyone there.
One thing that I found fascinating about Grandpa, as did at least one of his great-kids, was his experience as a Concientious Objector.  Just last week, I saw copies of his correspondence from the Canadian government ordering his appearance in court to make his case for why he would not serve in the army during WWII and then his instructions on how to get to BC on the train to the work camp. How many of us have had such a test of faith where we needed to be extremely resolute and confident in our faith in Christianity and in our stance on peace. 
Hopefully, all of us grandkids can carry on the legacy passed on to us by Grandpa.  A legacy of wisdom, kindess, slow to speak, slow to anger and a love of Christian service.
Aufwiedersehen, Grandpa

Friday, 16 December 2011

The end of an era

The house trailer finally left. There was one delay after another, thankfully none of them had to do with us, but the trailer is gone. It was supposed to leave weeks ago but between mover illness & breakdowns and very high winds it sat on our yard for much longer than anticipated, much to the dismay of the new owner. Funny thing is that after we moved out of it the kids had no desire to go back in it to look around and neither did I. Ron was in and out of it numerous times to unattach the addition, unhook electricity, make sure the plumbing didn't burst, etc., etc., but I think he didn't really feel a desire to be in it after we moved either. Here are a few pictures of that day:

The house trailer being prepped to move. This was a few days before it actually drove away.

The trailer had to sit beside the shop for a couple of days. The wind got up to close to 60 km/h, the shingles wouldn't have handled going down the highway!

New homeward bound!

Just our little addition is left. Bethany at first thought the house trailer had shrunk! I then reminded her that we saw it drive down the highway so she then realized that it hadn't shrunk. I told her this building was where our playroom, office and storage room had been. She was very surprised, "Our playroom was in there??!!" I always assumed she knew the addition wasn't originally part of the house trailer, I thought it was quite obvious from the outside, but she never put the two together. Her house was always that way and there was no need to see it as two separate buildings. The addition will now be converted into the farm office. The plan is to move it beside the shop and give Ron's parents their room in their basement where the office currently is.

We have settled quite nicely into our new home. Ron commented the other day that it was hard to remember what life was like in the house trailer and Bethany has no recollection of what it looked like on the inside! Nathan and Larissa don't mention it at all, it's like it almost never happened. Almost. We had a great 11 years in the house trailer, it served its purpose well, but now we have said good-bye to our old friend knowing it will continue to be a great place for its new owner.