Grandfather #1 - all Dressed Up for his Wedding

Fathers’ day provides appreciation to fathers; but how about a word of appreciation for Grandfathers.  I had two that had a lot of gumption.

One grandfather was orphaned as a teen and ended up fighting for the British Army in South Africa.  Then he went out to what was the Northwestern Territory of Canada to homestead on the prairies by himself for two years.

He went back to England to get married. Then went back to what was then Saskatchewan and built another homestead on the treeless prairies.  My grandmother told me that the railroad was still being built as they traveled out to the prairies.  They went as far as the train went and from there it was by foot and horseback.  My grandparents raised seven kids in that homestead.

My other grandfather had it even worse.  He grew up in a windmill in Belarus during the early part of the century.  He was drafted into the Russian army and ended up a prisoner of war in Italy after WWI.  When the war ended, he had to walk back to Russia.  It took him six months.

What did he find when he got there?  A Russian Revolution where duelling armies marched through his town generously offering to draft him into their army… or kill him.

So he raised himself to his full four feet eleven and took his wife and baby off to Canada.  He had no marketable skills, no money and no English.  They also ended up in Saskatchewan where he worked as a blacksmith’s helper while he learned the language.  How many blacksmiths were under five feet tall?

Later he opened his own corner store in a multicultural neighbourhood where his ability to speak every language along the road he walked between Italy and Russia was a great help.

They raised their kids and got a couple of them through university.  One even became the Chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Would you head off to a country where you knew no one?  Couldn’t speak the language?  With no resources?  No way.

So, when people tell me how tough they have it, I just think about my grandfathers as we celebrate Father’s Day.

You think you have it tough?  We couldn’t hold a candle to these tough old coots!  They had more moxie, took more risks and had a stronger “can do” attitude than all our generation combined.

Happy Grandfathers’ Day!

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