Sunday, January 2, 2011

In Memory of Clifford Joseph Taylor - My Gramps

One of the people in the top 3 of my "wish I had more time with" list, would have been my Gramps. (Another would be Nana, whom you've already met through past posts... The other was my Grandpa, whom you will meet later on in my blogging days.) His passing was the first real experience I had with losing a loved one. Distant family members had gone before Gramps, but his was the first that significantly affected me. I can still remember getting the news like it was yesterday though it's been ten years to the day since we lost my Gramps, at the age of 70, to pancreatic cancer...

Some may say Gramps was some what of a hard-ass... That's not the side of Gramps I was ever shown though. Sure, at Christmas he and Dad would talk shop and things got a little "opinionated"... But that's about where that ended. (Gramps was a second generation Boilermaker, making Dad a third generation...) In fact, that's where most of my memories of Gramps lay, Christmas talking shop with Dad. I have a hand full of other memories as well, but majority revolved around Christmas.

My first clear memory of Gramps was puking in his car. Nice grand kid hey? I was about 4, maybe 5, and had slept over on one of the rare occasions at Nana and Gramps. I remember having a crappy night sleep that night because I didn't fall asleep before Gramps did. What's the big deal right? The big deal was the fact that Gramps snored... And when he did, it sounded like a freight train rumbling throughout the house... Then that morning, Nan served up a BIG bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast... On the car ride home, I started to get a bit of a headache, the car was too warm and my stomach started to churn.... I had my head on my arm, both resting on the arm rest of the car. I remember telling myself "we're almost home, then you can puke." Didn't happen that way, next thing I knew I was staring at my breakfast between the seat and the door. Gramps pulled over to clean up the mess and asked why I didn't tell him to pull over. I told him I thought I could hold it until we made it home. We had a laugh about it in later years, and Gramps was floored I could even remember the "Fruit Loops Incident". Let me tell ya, to this day I still can't even handle smelling Fruit Loops without wanting to race to a toilet. (Or without thinking of my Gramps...)

I remember my Gramps being a solid man. He wasn't overly tall, bout average height... In my eyes though, he was built like a brick shit house. I came home from school one day, to find Gramps wrestling with Mum's dryer... Dad was away on a job, and that's when the dang appliance decided to stop working. Gramps came over to fix it and was just walking it back into place, he did it alone I might add.

Shortly after coming home to Gramps fixing the dryer, I was up at Vernon Jubilee Hospital as I volunteered as a Candy Striper. A friend of mine was also a Candy Striper and we'd take turns driving up to the hospital for our volunteer shifts. One day, after the end of our weekly shift, my friend told me that my grandfather was in the hospital. That was news to me, and I had to run to the information desk to find out which Grandfather was hospitalized. I saw Gramps' name and had to question my parents when I got home, as my ride was waiting for me. I was worried he had a heart attack or something. Turns out, Gramps was in for a knee replacement, which are routine enough I guess in this day and age. Nevertheless, I was pissed at my parents for not telling me.

The following week, my friend and I cleared switching floors with the Hospital's Volunteer services. After my "rounds" of getting patients new ice water, I sat with my Gramps for a couple of hours. One of his roommates' family brought in some boxed chocolates and offered me one. I originally turned it down, but after some prodding and encouraging from Gramps - I grabbed two. He told me he wasn't sure why my parents would ride me for my weight, it was Christmas time again - have a Chocolate! (This being after the incident when I was about 8 years old and ate about a box and a half of chocolate one Christmas Eve at Nan and Gramps' and woke up at 3 in the morning and had ANOTHER good vomit session at their expense!) Gramps was released from the hospital before my next volunteer shift. Sure, that was a good thing, but I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to visit with him again.

Life clipped along after seeing Gramps in the hospital, just your average memories and visits. I graduated from high school.... Moved away for the first time with a then boyfriend to a miss it if you sneeze place of Creston, BC. I managed to come home that year for Christmas, and I am thankful I did. Between my leaving (in October-ish that year) and Christmas, Gramps had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

When I walked in to Nana and Gramps' on Christmas Eve and saw Gramps. I nearly cried as my heart broke.... My Brick shit house of a Gramps had loose skin due to losing so much weight. I sat and had a long conversation with him that night. He asked what my goals and plans for life were. I told him I wasn't sure what I wanted to go to school for, but that I had it narrowed down to a few ideas. He told me to get as much education as I could, because you could never have too much or be too smart. He also mentioned that I would want to get my education done early on in life... Not to go back to school for a career later in life... That if I wanted to get learned in later life, it should be out of interest rather than necessity.

We finished up Christmas Eve in regular style that night. Nana had sausage rolls and lasagna for dinner. (Lasagna was our Christmas Eve Ritual Dinner if you will.) We opened gifts and spent some time. After saying the good byes, putting on the boots and jackets, (and I still don't know what made me do it) as I walked through the sliding patio door to head to the car, I turned to Gramps and winked. I think we both knew.

A week later, I was back in Creston and miserable. I had blown out my knee, which was easily three times it's normal size, and was off work (I worked at A&W at the time). About 11 o'clock in the morning my phone rang, and my parents' number flashed across my caller ID. I remember thinking, "Why is Mum calling me now? It's not the cheap time...." I answered to find that Gramps had passed that morning... I was too stunned to speak, or even cry to be honest. I had just seen him so the news was blowing my mind.

It's been ten years since that day, I still can't believe he's gone.... Clearly, he'll never be forgotten though... All the times he set up his Commodore 64 so I could play frogger. The time I blew both his and my brother's minds when they found me playing frogger without either of their help....

It's not always about me; today I'm missing my Gramps. I hope you are continually at peace, Gramps.

In Memory of Clifford Joseph Taylor (June 27, 1930 ~ January 2, 2001)

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