Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2008 my maternal grandfather passed away. Even though I knew his time would come, I don’t think that made it any less painful. I luckily got to see him before his health started seriously declining.
When he passed, my brother wrote in his eulogy about my grandfather’s fierce pride of being Canadian; “My grandfather often displayed a sense of wonder and awe at the rate of social, cultural and technological advancement around him. Sometimes, in a profound moment, the immensity of it all would suddenly dawn on him, and tears would well up in his eyes. I recall my grandfather’s passion for this country, and his appreciation of all the things I took for granted in my youth. I doubt he could have ever imagined such a good life, or such opportunity, as Canada ultimately afforded him. This much is clear, just by taking stock of all the miniature flags he collected.”
When my mother called to inform me of his passing I remember her commenting that he probably left us on Thanksgiving so we would always remember him connected to his love for Canada; that we will always remember to give thanks for getting the chance to start life in a place filled with so many opportunities.
Having experienced myself now what it’s like to integrate into a country that is not your own, I can only imagine what it would be like to have done it at his age. He embraced the language, the culture and the traditions with a sense of curiousity and exploration. As a child, when I first started to go to an English language school, he encouraged me to embrace how others couldn’t pronounce my name and reminded me that the funny English pronunciation is also part of me – my identity. I’m so grateful for the digital era that allowed me to capture him singing my name song one last time. It brings a smile to my face watching him, as does each time I remember the memories we shared together.