This is a departure from my usual sports blogging, I hope you won’t mind.
My grandpa died early this morning after a long battle with cancer. He was a top notch man, and one of my very favourite people on this planet.
Grandpa was a role model of mine. He taught me about the big things in life, like leaving a legacy with your family and city. In 1976, he was elected mayor of Saskatoon, the first ever mayor born in the city. He spent his entire life there. I always thought grandpa had two great loves in his life, my grandma, and Saskatoon.
Grandma obviously came first though. On one of my recent visits out to Saskatoon, he said he and grandma started going steady in February 1945, and that was that. They were best friends and constant companions for close to 70 years. Grandma and grandpa looked at each other like they were the luckiest people in the world, no matter what year it was.
If my marriage ends up half as great as that, I’ll be very happy.
One of the best parts of visiting Saskatoon was going on drives around the city with him, where he’d share all sorts of stories about what projects his construction company was working on, or the landmarks he and his family helped create. Grandpa’s first job was straightening nails on a construction project, and he ended his career president and owner of Wright Construction. His son now runs it, and his grandson is climbing the ranks as well.
Along with the big things in life, like legacy, and life companions, grandpa was good at enjoying life’s smaller pleasures. He was the best person at naps I’ve ever seen. He’d come home from work for lunch every day, and have a nap on the couch before going back to work. If the TV was blaring, all the lights were on, people were sitting on the opposite couch talking, it didn’t matter. There he’d be, napping away. One time in the summer I was visiting, I think I was about 8 or 9. I was reading on the couch in the living room (I was a very nerdy kid) and Grandpa good-naturedly scolded me for being too quiet.
He was a life long Riders fan, and completely the reason why I follow them now. When I was in Saskatoon going to school for a couple of years, I loved watching the Riders with him. He could analyze things in the game better than anyone I know. When hockey hooked me later in life, grandpa loved sharing it with me. We talked about Gordie Howe (From Floral, Saskatchewan which was right next door to Saskatoon!), Bobby Orr, and how the Canucks were doing.
If you were good at a back rub, he adored you for life.
There was a grocery store chain in BC that grandpa enjoyed immensely. They didn’t have this chain in Saskatchewan, so when he flew out to BC to visit us, he would drive all the grandkids that were at our house to Thrifty’s as soon as he got in from the airport. There were these wrapped chocolates that he loved, and he would absolutely stuff this plastic bag full of them. I mean this bag would be practically splitting at the seams by the time he was done. The dollar total for this giant bag of chocolates was always something obscene, but he never cared. He liked what he liked.
I could go on for pages about all his community accomplishments for Saskatoon, but I know the local news outlets will do a stand up job of that.
He meant a very great deal to me, and my family. We will miss him dearly. Rest in peace, Toonpa.