My Grandfather passed away last Thursday. Because I'm 35 weeks pregnant and we live 4000km away, I decided not to go the funeral. The stress of flying when I'm so close to giving birth was just too much of a risk. However, I really wanted to be there. This is the first time I have lost someone this close to me. I've experienced other deaths in the past, but none have hit me as hard as this, because I didn't know any of those people as well as I knew Grandpa.
Grandpa was a farmer for much of his life. He was born in small-town Saskatchewan and died not far from that same town. He took over the family farm in the early 50's and gave it over to his youngest son in the early 80's. So I grew up visiting the farm, and him in the small town nearby for my entire childhood. We would see Grandma and Grandpa several times a year, since they only lived 2 hours away.
Grandpa's hobby was making rocks (especially curling stones) into clocks and jewelry. He liked to tell long, odd stories that sometimes entertained us and other times drove us crazy. He had an amazing memory - he could recall the names of people he went to school with in a one-room prairie schoolhouse 80 years ago.
When he would visit us, he would always fall asleep on the couch after dinner (something my dad does now). Sometimes he would just reach over and want to hold my hand. He was strong and opinionated and always fiercely proud of Canada, and especially of his hometown. He wasn't afraid to travel, but in the end, he strongly believed that there was no greater place then his home in Saskatchewan.
It's hard to imagine life without him. Even though visits were few and far between these days, knowing he was there was important, a grounding anchor for my life. Now, he's gone and I miss him, even more then I expected I would.