stories of a failed holy man


Grandpa Peterson
March 11, 2011, 7:40 pm
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Today marks 3 years since grandpa passed away. I don’t think that I have as vivid memories of time spent with anyone else the way I do with grandpa Peterson.

I remember when I was only 5. grandma and grandpa came to visit us in British Columbia. I’m sure they did several times, but this one time stands out. I got my love of fishing from Grandpa, and he took me out to White Lake. I remember it so vividly because you could see the fish swimming underneath our boat. I was both fascinated and terrified as a 5-6 year old boy, but I knew grandpa had my back. I remember when we docked the boat to leave, seeing a run over turtle in the middle of the road. We went to examine it closer. As a 5 year old boy, I was sad and shocked to see a dead animal so up close, but I remember grandpa just holding my shoulder and telling me it would be okay. When they left, the story goes that I ran to my room crying. When mom asked why I was so sad, I said “I just am going to miss grandpa so much.” I don’t remember that part, but I don’t doubt that is true. He sure loved to tell me that story every time I went to see him!

Later on, when we moved to Dauphin when I was 8, I remember having grandpa and grandma live just across the campus of WCC. It was the most amazing thing as a kid to be able to run across the field to your grandparents house and be loved the way they loved me. I remember grandpa building his old trailer. Putting the plywood together on top of the wheels, screwing in the nuts and washers and all that jazz. I remember him letting me use the power tool to screw one in and that same feeling when we were fishing of being terrified but knowing it was alright because grandpa was there. I remember the old stash of computers the school was getting rid of in grandpas garage. His garage was like a treasure chest for me as a kid. But these old beastly computers caught my eye more than all the rest. All you could do with them was hit the on button and type. No games, no programs…Just a blank screen to type on. So he let me play with them and finally asked if I wanted to help him take one apart. That was crazy in my books, so of course I said yes. I remember taking the entire thing apart piece by piece and examining it thoroughly. Sometimes we’d use the screw driver, other times we’d just rip whatever loose piece we could find out. As a young boy, all these crazy pieces of electronic equipment were like gold to me. It was real treasure to me then, and now the treasure is found in the memory of a grandpa doing anything and everything to make me smile.

One of my favorite memories was the old squirrel in their front yard. I don’t really know if he was old, but I remember thinking he must have been. We would throw him bread crumbs and see how close he would come to our feet. After days of this, we finally had him climbing up our legs and eating out of our hand. My favorite picture of myself is one that my grandpa took, of me smiling a smile my face could barely contain as a squirrel crawled across my arm to eat out of my hand. My favorite picture of grandpa was one with the insane old squirrel right on his head and my grandpa smiling.

I remember my dad’s head injury. We were visiting our grandparents in Weyburn when we got the call late at night that he was in the hospital in intensive care. I was young and didn’t really understand the weight of what happened. Mom was crying and my uncle rushed over to take us home to Dauphin. But there wasn’t enough room for everyone in the vehicle, so me and Peter had to stay at grandma and grandpas. I remember knowing it was scary and feeling the weight of what had happened, but I also knew that I was okay because I was at grandma and grandpas house. And grandma would take care of us just like our mom would and grandpa made sure we did all the fun things he normally did with us. I remember feeling safe when I was with them in the midst of chaos.

A few years later, I remember helping grandpa rip the shingles off the roof of the old Weyburn house. It was the first time I remember physically being exhausted to the point of just wanting to soak in the tub. But I remember working with grandpa and wanting to help grandpa because of him always being there for me. Maybe I am idealizing it a little, because chances are I complained and griped. But thinking back, regardless of my attitude, I’m glad I was there with grandpa. Because he gave me so much, and I had nothing to offer in return. It was nice to help with something, even though I’m sure I was in the way as much or more than I actually helped. I remember crawling under that same old house to jack up the foundation. It was that same old feeling. I was terrified. A closed space with spiders every way you looked. But it felt like an adventure because I was with grandpa. I don’t think I would have trusted anyone else the same way I did him. I was terrified, but I knew that grandpa had my back.

I remember as I grew older, being suspended and sent to grandma and grandpas. Why I was suspended is a story I won’t share here, but I remember vividly being embarrassed and ashamed to face my grandparents. But I remember the hugs and love I received as I walked through those doors to the big old house in North Weyburn. I remember grandma playing board games with me in the morning, and grandpa taking me out in the afternoon to explore. We would go out gopher hunting, but we would also explore the scenery, the old abandoned houses that are all around the Saskatchewan prairies. I remember picking up the gun to take a shot and missing by several feet. Grandpa laughed and laughed, and I had no idea what was going on. But I had forgotten to put up the sight on his little gun, and so my aim was ridiculously off. I loved that he laughed at me, because I knew how much he loved me. If anything, it taught me to laugh at myself when I goofed up. I remember going there feeling shame and leaving feeling whole because my grandparents loved me no matter what.

Grandpa was an incredible man. I’d give anything to go back and have more time with him. To laugh again, explore some more old buildings, go fishing or rip apart electronics, to go to Mcdonalds and have ice cream. Anything. Sitting here typing, it reminds me of my grandma Roberts and the same feelings I had about her. And it makes me think of my grandpa Roberts and my grandma Peterson and how they are just as incredible as grandpa Peterson. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am one of the luckiest people to ever live. The family I have, the love that came from the top down, from my grandparents to my parents, through me to my daughters. And I am thankful. Ever so grateful for who my grandparents are. I wish I would have told grandpa Peterson that. I wish I would have told grandma Roberts how incredible she was, how incredible they both were and how they helped shape me into who I am today. So I thank you grandma Peterson and grandpa Roberts for who you have been to me, because all the things I said about grandpa hold true for you as well. I don’t want to live regretting not telling you how important you are to me.

Thanks for the memories. I miss you, grandpa.



squirrel
November 30, 2009, 6:53 pm
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i watched a squirrel death match the other day. two squirrels on a fragile tree branch, pushing, fighting for position. the survival of the fittest. evolution in its rawest form. one will survive, the other will go to the eternal abyss. actually, i’m pretty sure they were just playing, because neither of them died. but it was fun in that moment to pretend it was life or death, 20 feet off the ground. they should hire squirrels for UFC. it would be more entertaining that way. i’m pretty sure someone will beat me to death for that statement.

i’ve always loved squirrels. my wife hates them, thinks they are rodents. i told her she was a rodent and i slept on the couch a couple nights. not really, she actually just slapped me and we called it even. that’s how our relationship works. the food chain starts at the bottom with me, then squirrels in the middle, our daughters second in command, with her at the top. general melissa. she makes me call her that. for the record, all of that is made up. she will read this and then make it a reality if i don’t ensure everyone knows i am kidding. we have a very loving relationship where we work together and share everything we have. (she forced me to type this! someone save me!)

our neighbor has a bird feeder in her tree, and it attracts squirrels all day long. at any given moment you can look out our big front window and see the squirrels playing and eating to their hearts delight. squirrels remind me of my grandpa peterson. some of our greatest memories involved 4 legged critters. which sounds weird, but it makes sense if you know him. i remember living on the old dauphin campus of WCC. i would always go to grandma and grandpa’s house just across the field. i’m not really sure how it started, but one day we ended up outside trying to feed the squirrels. throwing pieces of bread everywhere to get them to come out of hiding. many did, but there was only one that was truly brave. he would have completely annihilated the competition in my USFC (ultimate squirrel fighting championship). others would come within a few feet, but this one would come right up to our feet. one day, when we quit throwing the food, he ran right up my leg and launched himself off a second later. grandpa decided to try an experiment. we got some more food and put it on top of our hats. the squirrel crawled up our legs and bodies all the way on top of our head. then he would sit there eating his prize. we would hold the bread in our hands and let him just chill on our arms while he ate. one day he just didn’t show up. i think it was winter, so maybe he was hibernating. or maybe he became a snob and was too good for our bread. either way, that was my grandpa. crazy memories of weird rodents. and i’m not talking about joylyn. SNAP! jk lol brb.

he always used to take us gopher hunting. he had a little semi-automatic 22 and we would drive the dirt roads of weyburn scouring the fields for rodents. i remember this one specific time when i was older. i must have been in high school. grandpa wanted to take me gopher hunting. i didn’t really want to go. after all, i was a punk with an attitude. i hardly wanted to go with my grandpa to shoot gophers. but i went. i can’t remember whether i gave in or if my mom made me go. but i’m glad i did. because it’s one of the best memories i have of him. i wasn’t used to holding a gun. it felt awkward in my hands. but grandpa always gave me the first shot. i kept missing our targets and he finally realized it was because i wasn’t using the sight. he thought that was pretty funny. in fact, he laughed for a good few minutes about it. and not just a chuckle. a deep laugh from deep inside of him. i laughed because i couldn’t believe he thought it was so funny. if he gave a light little chuckle, i would have understood. but he was killing himself laughing. grandpa making fun of me. but not in a rude way. he just genuinely found joy in simple things and was so glad to be there with me in that moment. for years after that, he brought up that moment. and he would laugh. half at me, half with me. because i forgot to use the sight. that’s why rodents remind me of my grandpa. he was a man who would find any little thing and bring out the joy and life in it. whether it was a joke, squirrels, gophers, fishing, telling stories…he even disliked george bush as much as i did. i remember him always being happy to be with me. whatever we were doing. i wish i had gotten to know him better. i’m just thinking of my grandpa lots lately. and all these little things i remember that brought him joy are reminding me of the best time of my life. with a grandpa who loved me until he died. i hope i can be like him someday. he was a good man.