My grandpa John William Hammond died one year ago today.
November fourth was a Sunday. I had spent hours with him on November second and third. When I was told my grandpa was put into palliative care it didn’t really connect. I knew what palliative care meant and when my aunt told me, the tone in her voice hit it home.
I was hosting my radio show when my phone buzzed, I didn’t want to check my messages until after the show but I knew.
The text from my aunt announced his passing, that he was with the family and that she loved me.
My grandpa was an enigma wrapped in a riddle. He never talked about anything personal with me, we would talk about fishing, the Kamloops Blazer’s and whatever came to our minds when I drove with him in his Ford truck. I knew from my dad that grandpa was a heavy drinker in his early days and my dad and his siblings felt the impact of that for their childhood/young adulthood.
It was and is still difficult to imagine my grandpa in that state.
I didn’t have much contact with my grandpa during the last 10 years of his life and I regret that. What I do not regret is I was able to have an honest conversation with him in the Spring of 2008. I was able to tell him how much I loved him, that I was a gay person and that I regretted not spending him with him. He told me that he loved me no matter what and that being gay is something that a person cannot choose.
I made my peace with him.
His health deteriorated a lot in 2008 and beyond.
When it came to be..that my grandpa had died on my grandma’s birthday I thought, “sheesh grandpa..”
My aunt filled in the gaps when we had a chance to speak. The family went out and bought my grandma a piece of cheesecake for her birthday and my dad was getting her flowers from the store. They sang her happy birthday and as she ate her cake, my grandpa quietly passed away.
“It was the most beautiful moment I have ever experienced,” said my cousin Rae at my grandpa’s funeral.
It seems that he waited so he could celebrate with the family and then quietly left the party.
Always a gentleman.
About a month later my grandma gave me a mix CD.
The choice of songs is exquisite and I have been trying to write something about it for a year. The perfect blend of catchy tunes stretching 50 years of music history.
The Tractors – Badly Bent
Dan Hill – Sometimes When We Touch
Little Jimmy Dickens – May The Bird of Paradise Fly Out Your Nose
Narvel Felts – Funny How Time Slips Away
Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill
Conway Twitty – Danny Boy
kd lang – Hallelujah
BJ Thomas – Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
Ray Charles – Georgia On My Mind
Tompal Glaser – Put Another Log On The Fire
Elvis Presley – Blue Christmas
Tony Orlando – Knock Three Times
Willie Nelson – Nothing I Can Do About That Now
Gary Fjelgard – Ten Years Old And Barefoot
Bryan Adams and Pavarotti – All For Love
Freddie Fender – Wasted Days and Wasted Nights
Kim Barnes – Betty Davis Eyes
The Platters – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Gordon Lightfoot – Early Morning Rain
Don Gibson – My Elusive Dreams
I used to think that my grandma made the CD for me. A year after my grandpa’s death, it feels like a valentine for him.
Love you grandpa! Sorry I brought that whoopie cushion to the house during a family dinner. Surely you must have known Di was going to put it under your seat?