Saying Goodbye

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Lifestyle, Motivation
Tags: ,

Prelude:  This post really doesn’t have anything to do with triathlon or Ironman training at all.  Sometimes this blog is simply about the stupid stuff that goes through my mind while I’m out running, cycling, whatever.  It has been a difficult week training-wise as I am in the process of mourning the loss of my grandmother, which occurred late last week.  So where I have been taking solace in the peaceful solitude of my long workouts, lately, she has first and foremost been occupying my thoughts.  For that reason I haven’t been posting much.  However, in an effort to end the current posting slump, so to speak, I figured I’d post here for you the eulogy I wrote in my head for her the other day for tomorrow’s funeral while out running (minus the initial greeting part).  It’s not a particularly over-the-top hap-hap-happy kind of post, but it does clearly illustrate where my head has been these days few trying days.  In a way, this is my tribute to not only my grandmother, but my new found inspiration.

Me with my Nana and Poppy…inevitably just before or after the free lunch, I expect.

Truthfully, I didn’t take the opportunity to visit my Nana as much as I should have the past few years…but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about her.  Lord knows with the amount of time I spend running, cycling and whatnot, time to think is the one thing I have lots of.  In fact, I remember well my first big “training run” for the local Terry Fox charity run back in Grade School.  I had no idea what I was doing and I just set out running.  And where do you think I gravitated to?  Why, to Nana’s of course.  Now, I’d like to tell you that I had some Master Plan that day based on distance or time but, really, it was the promise of praise, a free lunch, not to mention exact change to get the bus home again.  Believe it or not, I still run this exact same route along the old canal as I did back then, only now…I also run home.

Almost daily, I run past her old house on 20 Stuart Avenue and I instantly remember the times we all spent together in that house for birthdays, holidays and special occasions.  I recall the Sunday evening roast beef dinners in front of the television watching ‘’Walt Disney’ and ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’…and who could ever forget Christmas Eve in the basement of that house, and the promise of getting to open one of Nana’s and Poppy’s presents!  Thankfully, it was usually that wicked awesome Star Wars toy I had been eying and hoping for, and not another one of those bright neon knitted sweaters she had dutifully spent the last three months making. Funny then, that now as an adult, I can’t even conceive of owning a jacket or coat.  I particularly remember the times I spent in that house recuperating while sick, or after having my wisdom teeth removed, or if my mom had just had enough of me.  Nana had a most effective way of making you feel better.  Some say you ‘starve a cold and feed a fever’… and Nana’s personal philosophy definitely included lots of feeding, combined with a strict regiment of daytime soaps and afternoon naps on the couch – a routine I still follow to this day I might add.  I’m still probably burning calories from those platefuls of cheese and baloney ‘soldiers’.  I would crush her at games of cards, “help” her with the evening crossword, and stay up late watching television.  Of course, there was always those blasted Leaf games to content with…but you can’t have everything, can you?

“Sorry, Nana, it doesn’t look too good this year either!”

Sleep over’s at Nana’s was cool!  Nana was fun, however, she was also a cheat at Euchre as we would all later learn on our family trips to Ottawa, the West Edmonton Mall, Walt Disney World, not to mention beautiful, scenic Rochester, NY.  Of course, these exotic locations were all fronts for her real passion…spoiling us all rotten.  And all it took was our agreement to act as on-call runners to fetch extra creamers and packets of sugar for her evening coffee.  Pretty decent Interval work for a budding runner, wouldn’t you say?

I credit my Nana for my own interest in travel and extended road trips.  I remember those weekend bus trips to Kitchener…again, whenever my mom needed that much deserved break.  These trips typically meant that I would be spoiled with lunches, treats, and the latest edition of the Incredible Hulk comic book.  Now, when I run downtown I see a statue of an 8ft. Italian Chef standing in front of Dom’s Pasta & Grill on the corner of King and Academy streets where the old bus station used to be.

I sometimes run past the ‘St. Paul Street United Church’ for which she was a loyal and enthusiastic member of the congregation for years.  I remember being wakened out of bed on Sunday morning with threats of disappointing Nana should I not be there…fortunately, there was always the chance that I would be able to sneak out of the service and go for a slice of pie at the coffee shop next door with the $2.00 bill she would inevitably have slipped me…I am her favorite after all, remember?  I think she knew that with my having two other younger and infinitely more demanding and annoying siblings, that what I really wanted and craved was a chance to feel ‘special’…and she always managed to do that for me no matter what.  I think that’s why she harped on for so long about the hair.

Just this morning, I ran past three different Swiss Chalet restaurants, of course, back then there was only just the one.  Nana loved her some Swiss Chalet, didn’t she?  For someone as simple as our Nana, this was fine dining at its best…and by “fine dining” I really mean that they accepted ‘2 for 1’ coupons.  Hey, she was saving all those hard-earned dollars to spoil us with, wasn’t she?  Of course, there was always the lure of those easy creamers as well…

I run past the Pen Center where she worked for many years at Zellers after moving from the original Fairview Mall location.  That was pretty convenient for me back then as I could walk down to visit her for a free lunch, or at least to receive a “treat” procured from somewhere in the depths of her purse.  Oh, yeah, and there was always that bus ticket home again too….

I run past the ball diamonds in Merritton where she and Poppy would come out to brave the hot sun on Saturday afternoons to watch me Strike Out. At least I always got a Lifesaver for my efforts – butterscotch – and that always made the shame of fanning on three pitches bearable, let me tell you.

I run past the Lock 3 Museum & Viewing Complex where we would have all our family picnics.  I remember her famous macaroni salad, and her handing us pocket change so we could go throw it at the sailors in the hopes that they would throw back all their expensive foreign currency as an “investment in my future”.  I still have those coins safely stored away in an old tea pot somewhere… with current inflation and the economic market, they may be valued now somewhere around 24 cents in total.

Sometimes I don’t run outside at all, but from the vantage point of my preferred treadmill at the YMCA, I can look out the window and across the QEW to the old Queen Mary public school where I, reluctantly, attended two weeks worth of Math Camp learning to add 2+2 and do basic fractions.  While the camp itself was about as much fun as a root canal, it did mean that I got to spend one glorious week at Nana’s house being pampered again with those free lunches, treats, and afternoon naps on the couch.  It doesn’t get much better, let me tell you.  I still can’t add 2+2 to save my life, but peanut butter and jelly with the crusts cut off will remain as one of my preferred staples to the very end.  Go figure.

So, to begin wrapping it up, I’m not really sad today – in fact, I feel pretty happy.  I look out and see my family and friends, all here to celebrate the life of a most amazing woman.  And knowing that these occasions ‘together’ are what she lived for, I fully expect that she’s sitting here somewhere – probably in the front pew – taking it all in and reveling in us all being here together.  And just in case she is listening:  “I’ll get it cut again next month, okay Nana?”

  1. Renee says:

    Beautiful Terry. Love & Light to you, your family and all Nana’s friends.
    You are truly special. ❤

  2. Jan says:

    Terry, what a beautiful tribute to your Nana! My grandparents had passed away by the time I was born so I never had the special moments you treasure. You gave insight to all that I missed. Hope you don’t mind if I “borrow” some of your memories of your Nana and use them to make some of my own. AND what a little handsome cutie you were with fancy pants to boot!
    My sympathies!

  3. Tammy says:

    Sorry to hear about your grandmother. She may be physically gone but those great memories will be with you forever!

  4. paul says:

    a great tribute by a great man. Christmas will never be the same. Your a good man son, and truly an inspiring chap. I thank you from the bottom of my elusive heart.

  5. Doreen Leslie says:

    Sorry to hear about your Nana, Terry. A very personal and memorable tribute -it brought back memories of my grandmother, whom I was very close to -they are special people.
    Hang on to your memories!

  6. Mimi says:

    She sounds like a great lady, Terry.

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