My Grandpa Hamm passed away this morning. He was 82 years old.
I feel sad, but not really empty. It feels like something has been lost, but that I’ll be able to live without it. I’ve never lost anyone close to me before. Should I be feeling differently?
I’ve been blessed to know all of my grandparents throughout my life. Grandpa Hamm is the first grandparent I’ve lost. And I feel badly. I should have spent more time with him last weekend. I should have spent more time with him period. I should have done this, I should have done that. But it’s too late. He’s gone.
I don’t remember Grandpa before his strokes. I only remember him in the hospital, being in good spirits and moving forward with determination. Any other man would have been frustrated by his new lack of mobility and inability to do the things he once could. Not Grandpa. He was a happy-go-lucky guy from what I remember, though I know this was not the case before his strokes. His strokes changed his personality, and for the better. I say this not to be mean, but because it is the truth. I wonder if maybe he finally realized what actually mattered in life.
Grandpa was so proud of me. He had all of my programs and pictures from my recitals, though he was unable to attend any of them. He would tell everyone who came to his room how his granddaughter was a singer, how she was in Vancouver studying opera. He was so proud.
We had a good relationship. I would bug him, and he would act goofy in return. I always told him to behave. He was a funny guy. He’d always sing this German song about his many ‘madchens’, his ‘maidens’. We’d always sing ‘The Bear Song’: ‘The other day (the other day) I saw a bear (I saw a bear) out in the woods (out in the woods) away out there (away out there)…’ Grandpa also liked to play crib with Michelle. He loved McDonald’s; a Big Mac was his favorite treat. He also loved to drive out in the country, looking at the land and commenting on the crops. We had a game we played after his strokes. His right side had been weakened by the strokes, so he would try and squeeze my hand with his right hand to gain strength in it. He always liked to hold my hand.
The last couple years were tough on Grandpa as he lost the ability to walk. He was confined to a wheelchair for the last year or so. You could tell his memory was fading; the same memories and stories came up again and again. He also seemed more distant and quieter. He didn’t visit like he used to, but he still seemed happy. He was always in a good mood when we went to see him.
Grandpa loved music. I owe him a great deal of genetic thankfulness for the ability to sing. He played the guitar, the ‘fiddle’ as he called it, and the accordion. He had a band called ‘The Silvertones’ who played gigs around the Saskatchewan Valley area. One of his favourite songs was ‘Harvest Moon,’ a song I will always remember Grandpa with…
‘Shine on, shine on harvest moon, up in the sky…Shine on, shine on harvest moon, for me ‘n’ my gal…’
I love you Grandpa, and I will miss you. Until we meet again…