GRANDFATHER

GRANDFATHER

My grandfather came to this country from Switzerland
by way of Brazil, working first in the kitchen of a CPR
hotel in Winnipeg. One wonders if he could have
dreamt that one of his grandchildren would own one
someday: perhaps he did, the pioneers of this country
had such a store of courage and of dreams that we may be
drawing on them still

And then to the prairies of Saskatchewan to try his hand
at farming. Prospered in the 20’s replaced the packing
crate house with a large, verandaed mansion. Planted
ten thousand trees and created a special kind of oasis:
with flowers that bloomed all summer and fruit that
yielded sweet and tangy wines

Widowed early, he raised seven children through the
dirty thirties: Emil and Arnold and Walter and Werner
with daughters Rose and Ann and Earnest lost at war,
who, so the story goes, appeared to him on his death bed

“There’s Earnest now, coming to get me with the wagon”

These things I remember as old family stories

My real memories are much more of the senses. The
senses of a 4 or 5 year old which seem now to melt and
run together. I remember not the man so much as the
aura of the man. The richness of old cheese and tobacco
the feeling of peach and the sweet rhythms of the earth
that surrounded him and warmed me as we sat together
in his favourite room so long ago.