My grandfather was not the easiest man to get along with. Nor the easiest person to get close to. He and my grandmother came from a different time, a different place. An isolated mountain town tucked away in the forested hills of mainland Portugal. A place my grandfather had to leave, working abroad to ensure his wage covered the cost of his families needs. My grandmother worked in the fields, both literally and figuratively, to the bone taking care of two young sons and their home. A relationship created in love transitioned to convenience, loyalty and commitment. Coming to Canada to avoid watching their sons be forced to fight a war they didn't support.
Working tirelessly, saving money, and wanting the best for their sons and their expanding family were ever present throughout my relationship with my grandparents. All qualities I am proud to possess and have learned from them, however the technique in which they used to imply these lessons often pushed us apart rather than uniting us.
I remember spending summer afternoons in the garden picking raspberries, crab apples, tomato's and lettuce. Sticky from the heat, cheeks stained from playing with earth and sneaking raspberries into my cheeks when grandma and grandpa looked away. I remember laying on their living room floor, pulling on the thick carpet watching cartoons enamored with their crystal candy bowl and trinkets collected over time. I remember sitting down for lunch of cucumbers, lettuce, tomato's and onions tossed in grandma's special dressing, Portuguese soup, oven fried chicken, and homemade bread. I remember going for walks to the park, being pushed by grandpa on the swings, climbing to the top of the tallest hill my seven year self could imagine, holding my grandma's hand.
I remember hearing "why are you so fat," "why do you want to do that," "you shouldn't be driving a car, it's dangerous," "you let her drive a car," "you're moving where?" "you're ruining your lives" and feeling as though I would never be good enough, my family, my father, would never be good enough to please them. I know, deep down, that they did care, that they did and still do want the best for me, as their granddaughter, for their sons, my father, and uncle, and for the rest of our family.
The greatest gift they have given me is my family. The importance of family, and how close we have become. My fiercely loyal, dedicated, perseverant, eclectic and kind hearted family. My family, small only in size, certainly not in heart. Family dinners started at grandma and grandpas, transitioned to other venues when they were unable to continue their role as hosts.
My grandfather who passed away yesterday, and my grandmother who's mind has become a stranger even to herself. They fought for my family. They came to Canada, a foreign place, to fight for my family. They instilled in my father and uncle, the importance of family, of loyalty, of never giving up, of working as hard as you can, and then working even harder. That is what I will take away from my grandparents, the greatest gift they could have ever given me. My family, whom I know we will be able to weather any storm, take on any battle, overcome any odds. Together.
Have fun when you can. Think all the time.
- Delaney C.
- Music, Trees, Environment, BBC, Hardwood floors, Storytelling, Adventures, International development, Learning new things, Getting new perspectives, Writing essays, Water, Road trips, Photography, Spaghetti squash, Art, Books, Getting involved, Gingerbread lattes,(Not)Sleeping, Reading, Poetry, Falling leaves, Aging, Monologues, Prickly pear tea, Making lists, Politics, New ideas, Exploring, Traveling, Dinosaurs, Killer whales, Sushi, Pop Culture, Meeting new people, Barbequing with friends, Tubing down the river, Waking up early, Discovering new things, Trees, Empathy, Believing in the Power of Love