I couldn’t tell you…

grandpa, photograph

My Grandfather. Deda. Walter Cecil Kanigan.

He was born on March 22nd. Yesterday.  In 1909. 103 years ago.

I couldn’t tell you with certainty where he was born. Believe it was in the Ukraine. In a hospital? Home delivery?

I couldn’t tell you what he did as a child. Who were his friends? Did he have toys? A bike? A cat?

I couldn’t tell you of his journey to Canada. Where did he land? Did he ride the rails to get cross country? Was it Spring time?

I couldn’t tell you if he attended high school. Did he learn “his figures?”  Did he know how to write?

I couldn’t tell you how he met Grandma. Baba. Did he ask her Father for permission to marry? Was she his first choice?

I couldn’t tell you his dreams. He mentioned that he wished he could fly. Just once. I couldn’t tell you if he ever flew in a commercial airliner.

I can’t tell you much about Deda.

But, I have moments.

He mixed different cereals for breakfast.

He slurped vegetable soup off his spoon.

He picked pockmarked apples off the ground (rather than from the tree), rubbed them on his coveralls and relished each bite as if it were his first. Wiping the apple juice foam with his sleeve.  Slowly chewing and in contemplation, as if his mind drifted back to a time, the Depression, when everyone was hungry.

He’d sneak a cigarette at dawn (when he thought we were sleeping).  Wearing knee-high rubber boots. Dragging pvc hoses across the dewy field, moving Rain Bird sprinklers that were ccccht, ccccht, cccchting – – with his puffs of the Marlboro merging with the lifting morning mist.

He’d collect eggs mid-day and before dinner, gently tucking his swollen arthritic hands under the hens without disturbing them.  Placing them in an ice cream pail.

He’d sit on the milking stool, like a performing artist, rhythmically teasing a full pail from Daisy – Daisy swishing her tail at pesky black flies but nothing more. Letting the Animal whisperer do his work.

He shrugged his shoulders watching an ice ball roll down the stairs – – after I widely missed the target (my Brother). Glass door shattering. A peaceful man. I don’t recall him ever raising his voice.

A hard working man. A day laborer. A family man. A religious man. My grandfather.

Died in 1989.

I couldn’t tell you why

No, I couldn’t tell me why I didn’t attend his funeral.

I was 1900 miles away in the midst of grad school exam preparation. I was busy.

But, I can tell you.  That today – – he’s still with me.

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  1. rest in peace your grandfather. They never die, dear David, going to live in our hearts. Wonderful touches into the words. Thanks and Love, nia


  2. Perhaps it matters less to consider why you didn’t attend his funeral, than it is to consider the profound place he holds in your heart and memory?


  3. What a beuttifull bit of writing. I could just picture him. Look forward to reding more. I am new to blogging not really started yetand blog sites hence no photo yet.


  4. You’ve made me cry and think yet again of my dad who died much too young.


  5. Dude. You rocked this post. You’re such a great writer…


  6. So sweet, David…written with such love and meaning. He’s a part of who you are now. He’s there, in your heart.


  7. The love of his memory shows nicely in this post.
    May your grandfather continue to rest in peace.


  8. You have remembered the most important things about your grandfather. How he loved. More important you know he lives on in your heart and if you believe, you may see him again and ask all the questions you want.



  9. I love this description of your grandfather, David. It is so potent and redolent of a happy youth. You write beautifully, you really do…

    “Memory: a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.” –Pierce Harris


  10. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Smiling. I bet his journey was remarkably similar to my grandfather’s … same time frame, same places (yes, by rail across Canada), settled (not by choice) into farming but his heart was never in it. He had been a teacher before immigrating. My grandmother would find him in the barn, sitting on the milking stool – reading. Imagine 😉

    Lovely post – brings back lovely memories.


    • Thank you. Interesting LaDona. My heart was never in it for me either. But for my Grandpa, farming and gardening was in his blood. (I think). Wish I took the time to memorialize his life in a deeper sense. Another one of life’s missed opportunities…


  11. Your deda left this life, but he lives in your memories. The little things he did, and said were more important than what he didn’t say. Your being away for grad school was something he would have understood, as he travelled across the world for the future.


  12. Good memories.


  13. Beautiful tribute.


  14. Yes, memories are so special – memories of our grandparents, parents and special people that were in our lives – they live with us everyday and will forever. David, my parents were good friends with your baba and deda, they used to take us to visit them when they lived in the white “dom” and then the airport came to our area. Memories are good!!!!


  15. Michael Zahaby says:

    nice tribute.


  16. Beautiful. My grandparents never talked about themselves either. Don’t know much about their background. It wasn’t important They were more interested in living each day forward and learning about what we were doing…..


  17. Why didn’t we ask them questions, many years ago – I don’t remember any talk of themselves between my grandparents either – things were tough in depression years and they just lived each day doing the things that needed to be done – milking cows, looking after their gardens, winter time had grandma making rugs on a loom, I remember that much – it was a magical time for me and my two brothers!!!


  18. Beautiful and touching. Our dear ones always remain with us and bless us.


  19. That is a beautiful and touching tribute, David. For me, the things you do remember about your grandfather conjoured up an image of a man in overalls being followed around by a curious little boy who was watching everything, and learning. March 22nd is a special day for me–it was my mom’s birthday. She died in 2010. I often “wish this and wish that”; eventually, I remember her and the memories we shared and I laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time). As always, I thank you for sharing your intimate and personal memories with me.


  20. Thank you for a beautiful story David. Those who were with us remain with us even when they are gone. Our lives are filled with memories and stories. We recall them easily because they are important. I owe my unswerving honesty to my Memere (grandmother) who I lied to once. It was enough to be carried with me for the rest of my life.


  21. I don’t like How you make me cry, even when these are happy tears….. It’s Sunday, it’s the 3rd Advent in 2018 and a few moments ago Hero Husband left me for another week of work in another country…. But this story is so touching and I find that your remember LOTS…. it’^s the small and smallest tokens of attention, love, consideration one is collecting to store in one’s heart and mind. Your granddad is very much alive even for me!
    I also find that I seem to talk a lot more with my dad since he died…. and with other beloved people. Because: We are so terribly busy day in, day out, that we only find (just) time to share stuff with the living in tiny tokens. Whereas my father has got nothing better to do on his well upholstered wonderful cloud than observing and smiling, reprimanding and praising his beloved ones…. One of the things he often mentionnend in his last 10 years of life was the fact that he would meet his mother again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kiki, I forgot about this blog post. Thank you for bringing me back. Now my eyes are filled with tears. And love the story about your Dad and meeting his mother again. Wonderful.

      In 1 minute,
      60 seconds or
      60,000 milliseconds
      today will be gone
      and today is yesterday and
      tomorrow is today.
      What a terrifying concept
      something can pass
      ever so quickly
      and we never give it
      a second glance.
      Think about it.
      All of the things you’ve
      done today,
      the lists you’ve made,
      places you’ve been,
      things you’ve touched,
      songs you’ve heard,
      conversations you’ve had
      will soon become a memory,
      or even worse,
      it will be forgotten.
      Lost amongst your yesterdays.



      Liked by 1 person

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