April 11th is my grandfather’s birthday. When I originally posted this blog, I was late sending my well wishes. Unfortunately, I did not inherit his knack for punctuality or his morning person tendencies. However, something that we do share are our differences from the rest of our family.
My grandfather Harold is my mom’s dad. He lives on the other side of the country in central British Columbia, where my mom and her four sisters and brother grew up. He works for a Honda dealer and loves to golf. My grandmother was a singing teacher and an amazing baker. Music was a big part of my mother’s upbringing, being the daughter of an amazing opera voice and part of a very loud, vivacious French Canadian family. It goes without saying that our gatherings are never quiet or small but always fun.
At Christmases and trips to BC with my family, much of the activities revolve around my grandmother’s baby grand piano. Everyone gathers around and bursts into song at random points during the day. While it’s entertaining, it’s a bit embarassing for me as I’m certain I’m tone deaf. I don’t care to sing, I quit piano and I gave up on guitar. I would feel like the black sheep if it weren’t for my grandfather. When everyone sings or plays instruments - we watch football. Or hockey. Or go to a game. We’d rather watch Tiger Woods sink an eagle putt than debate who’s a soprano and who’s an alto in our family. Over the last few holiday seasons, I’ve had to sacrifice holiday time for a job, not a career. It wasn’t so much that I had to be stuck working but that I was missing winter traditions - like NCAA Football Bowl games and the World Junior Hockey Championship with my grandfather. Both sides of my family are creative outside of music, but it’s always nice to share a special bond that’s timeless.
Also, one of the reasons why I developed an affinity for cars and excelled in auto shop is due to my grandfather’s influence. I still remember peering into that aqua Honda Civic in the above photo and studying all its parts. It was something else to bond over that didn’t require a singing voice.
I wish I had more pictures but unfortunately my mother has most of our family photo albums hoarded at my parent’s attic in Ottawa. In this photo, left to right - my grandfather, me (about age 6), my brother Charles (about age 4) and my aunt Madonna. The second photo is one my Aunt Madonna took last year on my birthday before my Grandfather went golfing. As you can see, there’s a good chance he had something to do with my love for outrageous athletic fashion and sports broadcasters with flair (see: Don Cherry, Craig Sager, Clyde Frazier).
It’s funny how when you’re young, you often don’t want to be anything like your family - it’s the rebellious teenager stage. But the older you get, you learn to realize which characteristics and preferences you inherit and cherish. Even when you can’t be in the same physical area, you can always know where your roots are - who knew a football game could mean so much?
Thank you, Grandad. Happy birthday.
(PS. Notice how I’ve always had a thing for accessories? My headband matches my shoes!)