Always some sad in the middle of a pile of good…

So although all these fantastic things have happened lately (some I have yet to talk about and get around to discussin’) I also feel it necessary to mention a few of the more down-tempo items.

My summer was a little all over the place mixing time between prep for weddings and prep for my trip to London etc but through all this Dan (for those not in the loop: the bf) and I were having some pretty serious talks. So without getting into too much detail here and whatnot, just letting you know, that it ended mid-September and I think in an amicable way. So no need for those WHAT HAPPENEDs and the like really. It’s not a “what” so much as a “who we are” thing.
So there you have it.

Also, the day after Michelle’s wedding after receiving a fantastic gift in the mail for my birthday and leaving a happy voicemail message, I flipped open my phone not for it to be the person I’d just called, but my mum informing me that my grandfather had just passed away. I mention the voicemail thing because it was such an odd moment super happy mixed with horrible sadness back to back. There should be a word for such an about-face.

But I just thought that I’d like to ramble a bit about my grandpa, because he was one of the most important people for me growing up and I really believe he lived a fantastic 81 years.

This is all stuff I remember being told to me as a kid so if there are any errors and anyone who’s reading this knows better, by all means correct me. But as far as I know this is how the story goes.

His mother came from a wealthy french family and his father came from an Irish family that I *think* came over during the potato famine. Her family definitely did not want them to marry so she pretty much said good bye to the life that she’d lived in order to be with him.
There used to be this idea that for every year of marriage a woman was expected to bear a child so by the 8th child she died during childbirth and the baby too. In his grief his father signed a document (that was given to him by his own uncle of all people) that sent all of his children away to orphanages and other families. He didn’t realize that this was what he was doing so he had to live through his wife’s death as well as his children being taken from him.

My grandfather made it a life goal to track down all of his siblings. He personally ended up in an orphanage and ran away when he was quite young. I didn’t hear many stories from him about these things… I just remember people talking about it. My understanding is that the girls ended up in some horrible situations… He did find all of his siblings. I don’t think he was ever able to get them all in the same room together, but he at least got to see them and talk with them.

I recently learned that he wanted to be a priest but was told he was not cut out for it. He told one of my uncles that it was the worst day of his life.

He was a cop for 20years-ish within that time he got shot twice and that’s when he’d had enough of it and ended up working for External Affairs.
Through this job he learned several languages and with my grandmother (and some of their kids- depending) moved all over the world. Hong Kong, Athens, Brussels… I still remember being told a story that he had dinner with Trudeau.

He was a clock maker- he made this beautiful grandfather clock, and another one that my parents still have in their living room among others.

When they would come back to Canada my grandparents would live at our house and I feel like those are some of my favorite memories from my childhood. They would tell the most wonderful stories about all the things that they would see and do around the world, the food they would eat, the different customs and about the languages they had to learn. I feel like they molded a good portion of who I am in those years because the things that are of highest importance to me stem from these types of experiences- travel, understanding other cultures and of course language.

He was a tall man with a large mustache and a gold tooth and an incredibly witty sense of humour.

He was in the early stages of Alzheimers / Dementia when he passed so there is a bit of relief there. He never lost his mind, we never had to walk into a room and have him not remember who we are. I feel like that was a gift for such a strong and proud man. Things needed to end before they got worse.

During the funeral procession to the graveyard we were accompanied by O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) and as we reached an intersection one of the cops in the procession- pulled over, got out of the car, stopped traffic and stood in the middle of the road to salute my grandfather’s casket as it drove by. No one could have done a more fitting act to honour my grandfather- I have never been so thankful for a simple hand gesture.

He was a bit of a hero to me.
One of the most comforting things was hearing him wake up, make coffee and then the sound of the cards on the dinning room table as he’d play solitaire in the morning.

/ramble

RIP Arnold O’Malley

K

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6 Responses to “Always some sad in the middle of a pile of good…”

  1. Beth Says:

    Oh, I didn’t know about your grandpa. I had a similarly important grandpa who died a few years back, so I feel ya.

  2. Kayla Hillier Says:

    Aww thanks Beth *hug*

  3. Tova Says:

    So sorry to hear about your grandfather. Hope you and your family are doing well.

  4. Kayla Hillier Says:

    Thank you Tova. Honestly appreciate your thoughts.

  5. ADC Says:

    Your grandpa sounds like a wonderful man.The stories you’ve mentioned to me of him are amazing. Stuff of fiction, but for real, which so so inspiring…

  6. Kayla Hillier Says:

    :) *hug*

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