Sunday 26 June 2005


My grandpa passed away this morning after having a stroke on Wednesday morning. He would have turned 88 this November, and up until recently, was always fairly healthy. However, after my grandma died in 1991 from ovarian cancer, my grandfather's mental health rapidly deteriorated. At first he was simply absentminded, forgetting a few unimportant things here and there. Over the following years, he thought his neighbours were trying to steal his house, he would drive places and forget how he got there, and eventually, he had no idea who any of us were. Despite all this, he was still in good physical health and thoroughly enjoyed seeing us, even though he hadn't a clue that we were related. The last time I saw him was at Christmas a few years ago, and he said "I have no idea who any of you people are, but it was really nice of you to invite me over." with a genuinely pleased smile on his face.

He was amongst the thousands of Japanese Canadians who lost their homes, businesses, and almost all of their possessions during World War 2. He was apart from my grandma when she was pregnant with my oldest uncle, because men and women were interned in prison camps separately. He managed to get work as a truck driver during the war, and the family were forced to relocate from British Columbia thousands of miles east to Ontario afterwards. There they became fruit pickers, and eventually he worked in the Del Monte factory until he retired. He always said that they were lucky; others were sent to work in beet fields in Alberta, which he thought was much worse. He was immensely proud of his successful children and was infinitely pleased that they fared much better than he. In this respect, he maintained that a great deal of good came out of what was a horrific experience during wartime. Never bitter, never regretful.

He loved the Yankees (they were simply a much better team than the Blue Jays), Swiss Chalet, growing vegetables in his garden, beer and tomato juice, his baseball caps, and most of all, my grandma. He was my last living grandparent and it breaks my heart to know that Jack won't meet him. At the very least, I will make sure Jack knows all about his great grandparents on both sides, so that they will still be around in some way.

Being a grown up really, really sucks sometimes.

No comments: