The one thing that I regret was not getting to know my late grandfather more. My family came to Canada in the summer of ’86. My relatives including my grandfather arrived a few years later. I didn’t know him very well because as a kid, all I wanted to do was spend time with my friends. I didn’t talk much with my grandfather until we moved into the current house that I’m living in now.
Every time his old age pension cheque came in, he would give me $20 and tell me to order pizza. I was usually the one that took him to the bank to cash the cheque. He wouldn’t leave any of the money in the bank. He cashed the cheque and withdrew all of it in cash. As we headed home from the bank, he would hand me $20 and I was run to the pizza store and order two large pizzas. I think I ordered pizza once a week.
He was a fun guy to be around when he was sober. But there were a lot of times when he was drunk. We have to tell the liquor store not to sell him any more booze because he was getting drunk very often. But somehow, he still managed to buy alcohol. It’s amazing how he managed to do that because he didn’t speak English. Every time he was around someone that spoke English, he would make sign language and the other person surprisingly understood.
There was one time where he got completely hammered and walked outside the house. My mom told me to go bring him back in. He was outside hanging by the tree on our front yard. No matter what I did, he wouldn’t go back him. He was persistent on staying outside. Then he grabbed a tree branch, broke it off and started eating it. The way he was biting on the branch, looked like he was going to break his teeth. But surprisingly, he had pretty strong teeth for an old guy. After standing outside with him for ten minutes or so, I finally managed to convince him to go back inside. I walked him to his bed and put him to sleep.
I don’t remember much about my grandfather other than the fact that he was drunk a lot. I think he was even drink during his last day. It was unfortunate that I had to see him that way. My bedroom was right beside his bedroom. He had fallen off his bed and wasn’t able to get up. I heard him fall so I went into his room and tried to help him up. I was little at the time and he was too heavy for me to pick up. I would have went and got my dad but he wasn’t home at the time. He played in the band back then and at the time, they had a performance for a party.
My grandfather was in a bit of pain but I had no idea what to do. Once in a while he would tell me to rub his back or massage it but even then I didn’t know what I was doing. I just knew that he was drunk. He reeked of alcohol and he was trying to puke but nothing came out. I was there massaging his back for half an hour before my dad came home. He called for an ambulance and they took my grandfather to the hospital. That was the last night that I saw him.
The next day, my mom told me that my grandfather wouldn’t be coming home from the hospital. I knew exactly what she meant by that even though this was probably the first time I’ve heard of death. I pretended like it didn’t bother me. I didn’t want to cry because I was a boy and boys don’t cry. But I couldn’t help it. I locked myself in the bathroom and just started crying.
I sat there on the toilet in anger because I wasn’t strong enough to help my grandfather off the floor. It was as if, somehow, it was my fault for not doing anything. I was the oldest of the boys and I should have had enough strength to help out and I should have done more. But looking back to that night, I don’t think there was much I could have done. I’ve seen him in that condition so many times that I thought he’d be fine by morning. It was just a minor hangover and with time he would have been fine. But there was more to it, more than what I knew about at the time. I think the alcohol did a lot more damage. I don’t know the exact cause of his death and I’ve always been afraid to ask.
That night probably changed the course of my life drastically. I learned not to take things for granted. I learned to get to know people more, no matter who they are. Whether that person works at a cashier at Tim Horton’s or the lady that vacuums the carpet in the office. I want to know as much as I can about them. I take pride in knowing the little things and the minor details.