Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Uncovering The Past: The Uncle I Never Knew

Liam recently had to do a family tree project for school and my father sent me a link to some of our family history.  I revisited the site site today intending to pull out a tale I had found quite sweet but stumbled, instead, on the story of an uncle that I never knew - a story that brought with it an image that broke my heart...


In 1947 my grandparents adopted a little boy when he was only four days old.  I can imagine the mix of emotions - taking that bundle of brand new and their hearts swelling suddenly with room for another - such a beautiful gift to give to this little one who might have had no other chance. Loved so much that they gave him my Grandfather's name. 

But it seemed their joy was to be short-lived. Only two weeks after he arrived home with them, little Garry Earl became sick.  It was winter and the roads were treacherous. Both the Coal Trail and the Penhold Road were impassible but concern for their baby caused them to push on and they eventually made it to a hospital in Stettler, Alberta, where they were told Garry should never have been given for adoption - he had a poor heart.

(Never given for adoption? What would they have done with him? That thought alone disturbs me. Doesn't every child, no matter their 'condition' deserve the love of a family?)

For ten months they loved him. Ten months of nestles in the rocking chair and lullabies sung in the midnight hour and giggles at his silly faces and bouncing him on knees and showing him off to all the crazy church ladies. 

Ten months of crazy love.

Then he caught a cold. Grandma Elsie (for whom my darling niece is named) was up with him at 3am before settling him back to sleep. At 5am, Grandpa Earl got up to do his chores and bent to kiss the sleeping baby on his way out. The moment his lips touched Garry's forehead, he knew.
Delburne Cemetery, Alberta

And I am stuck with this image of my grandfather, this little man with a heart as big as the world and I'm sure he was in a million pieces as he woke his wife.  How can you ever ever ever forget the feeling of cold skin after you've left your love on it?

Ten months old.  This baby.  My uncle. 

And I can't help but remember my babies and how they would sleep and how I would watch them and know they were more beautiful than the idea of heaven and how that is exactly how my grandparents felt - right up until the moment that beauty was stolen - right up until the moment he was gone.

I just want to hug my grandpa!

[NaBloPoMo Day 20]
 

9 comments :

  1. Man :( This is so sad.

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    1. I know! I found a lot of great stories going through the family history but this one really struck me.

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  2. Sad, yes. But poignant. Very poignant.

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    1. My grandpa is such a darling man and I'm sure this experience shaped him tremendously! It's amazing that he went on from that point to have six more children!

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  3. I want to hug your grandparents also. ... Love = memories for us all ....

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    1. It's beautiful to find these old stories and see the legacy of love my family has. I'm sure your hugs would be very welcome!

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  4. You just broke my heart.

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  5. Whoa! I did not know about this uncle!! Thanks! I got the link from your dad in a mass email that my mom had sent.

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    1. Me neither! My dad told me this was more detail than he knew too. He said he thinks there's a photograph somewhere - I'd love to find that!

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