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Family Flashback Perfectionist Dad

Flashback Friday: Grandpa

I’m not going to lie, this particular weekend is always hard for me. Although it is a long weekend, and I should be off having fun, the memory of my Grandpa’s funeral lingers in my mind.

Two years ago, it was this particular holiday weekend that I spent mourning the loss of one of the great men in my life.

My Grandpa was an honest, fun, nature loving guy. When I think of him the first things that comes to mind are wood, forest, camping, and banff. Still to this day when I smell ceder wood or camp fire smoke, I think of him.

Grandpa and Grandma lived “up north” {as my family called it when we were young}, around the Pembroke area. From the age of 5-12, every summer my Dad would take my sisters and I “up north,” and we would spend a week at my grandparents house in the woods.

We did a lot of stuff up there. Rode our bikes, went to the beach, made birdhouses with scrap wood from Grandpa’s workshop, went fishing for hours, piled wood, cut the lawn, drove the 4-wheeler and snowmobiles, cross-country skied, and built forts. Not the typical “girly” activities that little girls take part in when you are young! Nope! There was no dolls and dress-up when we went to Grandpa & Grandma’s, just outdoors… and mud!

I look back on it now and I am happy that my Grandpa {and Dad} did all those things with us, and I know my sisters feel the same way. There are many things that I can do today because of the {weird} skills I learned when I was young, like how to properly put a worm on a hook so that it doesn’t fall off, or how to identify different types of trees in a forest, or how to use a jigsaw. For that I am thankful, and have so many memories of how and went I learned those things.

How it all happened…
My Grandpa suffered from a disease called Scleroderma for over 25 years. Although almost all scleroderma patients manage this disease with medication, my Grandpa never took any, and did most of his therapies naturally {this must be where I get my belief of ‘natural healing’}.

Scleroderma is a tough disease to explain {you can find more detailed information on the SSO website here}, so I will give it to you in a nutshell… “Sclero” means hard, and “derma” means skin, so it basically is a disease that hardens your skin or tissue.

My Grandpa had Linear Localized Scleroderma, so he had tissue hardening on his hands, feet, lips, back, and chest. Although this disease had been known to have a high mortality rate among patients, this is not what causes my grandpa’s death… in fact it was lung cancer.

For the two years leading up to my Grandpa’s passing he suffered from a lingering cough. He never thought much of it. He went to the doctor, the doctor had a listen to his chest, told him nothing was wrong and sent him on his way. Fast forward another year. Still coughing, this time he coughed up blood. Went to the doctor, doctor told him that the blood was coming from the inside of his nose and to get a humidifier for in the bedroom. Sent him on his way, no chest x-ray I might add! {I’m not sure what that particular hospital’s policy was but would you not issue a 78 year old man a chest x-ray if he was coughing up blood??}

A few months later, he got a quick onset of pneumonia. He stayed at home with my grandma for a few weeks until one night his lung collapsed. It was downhill fast from there.

I remember the phone call, {two weeks before his actual passing date} my sister called me at work to tell me that we were all driving up north to see grandpa in the hospital, she was choking back tears, this might be the last time.

At this time, Amanda was pregnant with Jax, and was due in about 2 weeks. We advised her not to come with Nikki and I {after all the 5.5 hour drive to Pembroke is a long one, and hospitals are far and in between}. Instead we had he make a video just talking to my Grandpa. Probably the hardest video I’ve ever had to shoot. We were both in tears by the time we were done recording. That was the day she decided that Jax’s middle name was going to be “Carl.” She promised my grandpa that in the video…. his first great-grandchild.

I will never forget that long journey up there, or the way my grandpa looked in the hospital bed, or the way he held back the tears and was so brave as we stood around him saying our “goodbyes.” Nobody wanted to admit it, but we knew these were goodbyes.

Two weeks later he passed.

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