Some of My Favorite People
(Part 2 / Grandpa Parry)
My paternal grandfather was quite a character. And, from a very young age, I could always remember him as a happy-go-lucky guy – always laughing, with seemingly nothing getting him down.
For Grandpa, it was all about attitude. He was always smiling, whistling while he worked and was always busy ‘doing’ things. He was an entrepreneur … could take any business from nothing and make it into to a thriving enterprise. At one time, he had a restaurant, hotel and grand home at a very popular summer resort. My Grandmother ran the day-to-day operations and was very happy living there.
He was also very industrious. He could take a run down house and with a little paint, wall paper and carpentry, turn it into something much better … all on a shoestring budget resulting in frequent trips to the thrift furniture store.
Volunteering his time, he would visit the kids at our local Sick Children’s hospital, and hand paint their room windows with their favorite cartoon characters. The kids just loved him!
A successful salesman, selling ‘pots & pans’(as he like to call it), he sold to commercial kitchens; and in later life, before his untimely death, he started up a Dry Cleaner business – his idea of today’s Retirement Savings Plan.
He often used his great sales skills on me too, a typical non-compliant teenager, as when he ask me to help him clean up our house. Initially, I rebelled against this, as I could see no reason why I shouldn’t be doing nothing like my friends. Grandpa saw no future in that; so he used his considerable charm and pulled a ‘Tom Sawyer’ on me. He said,” Freddy, look at how fantastic it’s going to be seeing the whole house with all those windows shiny in the sun!” And, just like Tom Sawyer, who got everyone else to paint the fence for him, I got hooked too.
And you know he was right! Looking back, I can still feel how proud I was when I had finished. Teaching by example, that was my grandpa.
Grandma didn’t always appreciate his efforts though because Grandpa, who was good at getting things started, also got tired of things just as fast. One example that stands out in family lore is when he had this blinding inspiration and decided to sell their resort business and home for cash, which got stuffed in an envelop and tossed into the car’s glove compartment.
I can’t tell you if it was a lot of money or not; but I do know Grandma had to leave the home she loved and in a very short period of time. All she knew was that Grandpa was tired of it all … got the itch to move on … just like that. I was only a toddler at the time; but some years after my Grandfather had passed away, I asked her how she must have felt? She just smiled and said at times he drove her crazy; but then she sighed and said, “I miss him Freddy”, as we all did. His personality and love of life was contagious.
When my Grandmother passed away, and we were settling the estate of her rather humble home, I noticed something written on the old shed door that I hadn’t noticed before. Grandpa had written (he was always writing), ‘Man is closest to God in a garden, than anywhere else on earth’.
That pretty well sums it up. He was the gardener of our lives – pruning here, nurturing there. When he died, it left a big hole in our lives, where a great … although not perfect … big man once lived.