On this day, October 2nd, in 1942, my grandfather, Dr. William Gibson, died of cancer. This was one day after my father’s 23rd birthday. 1942 was the third year of the war, my father went into the Royal Canadian Navy. He married my mother in March 1945 in Montreal. My sister followed in 1949. I joined the team in 1953. My father was 34 years old when I was born. He died when I was 39 years old. So it occurred to me that I had him available for advice and to just plain talk to for 16 years longer than he had those chances with his father.
Although he had four brothers, two older, two younger, I don’t think he was close to them. We lived far enough apart to make contact difficult. So I ask myself who was his mentor during his twenties and thirties. Who could he turn to for advice. I always felt I could turn to my parents if I really got into trouble. He didn’t have that option, not all of it. Perhaps if he had someone to advise him he would have made some different choices. Now that he has been gone for a full 20 years (this past January was the 20th anniversary of his death) , I ache to talk with him. When I was a kid he was busy with business, often away on business trips, often on the phone for hours at night at home, all of which manufactured a lot of tension between my mother and him and which flooded over and filled our home. By the time he was retired a little early by health problems and was ready to talk to me and he had the time, I had permanently turned off my receiver.
Somehow in my confused life, a family of my own never quite happened to me. Putting it that way is accurate and revealing at the same time.
I pitched in at the end of his life to help him in his caregiver role to my mother who was the more ill of the two. But he died first and for a short while I took his role full time, helping her become once again more self-sufficient. I remember in those days in the 1990s doing what I could to help, my sister pitching in as well, but all the while the chilling thought would roll in usually late at night. The thought that I would one day be aged and frail and health draining away and I unlike my parents would have no kids to help me out of this life.
More irritating still, there is no kid to hear me say, do these things for they worked well for me, and God, please don’t make all the mistakes I have made, you don’t deserve to do that to yourself.