Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Canon

Trying to go to sleep last night my mind drifted to the memories of my favourite of my grandparents. My mom's father, my grandfather whom we nicknamed "Canon" due to the uncanny resemblance to the detective from the '70 series.

At 5 foot nothing he had a personality to compensate for his lack of height. Born in Asia Minor, in current Turkey, he was orphaned at a young age and taken care from a Turkish lady until 1922 when, during the population exchange, he came over to Greece to build his life.
He got married to my grandmother, who was three years his elder--unusual for those times--and was the only married guy at his platoon when he enlisted for his national service.

A strong minded, forward thinking man, ahead of his days, he encouraged and supported my mom to go through school and pursue her dream of getting a University degree.

Never a rich person, he worked hard throughout his life, as a construction worker and a night watch, and made sure that his family of seven was catered for. He had a lot of love for all of his grandchildren, always teasing us, playing with us, telling us stories, and making toys for us. I loved him a lot! I still do; and believe I was his favourite grandchild. We had a special bond, it seems.

Perhaps it was that I ate a lot. I would finish a milk bottle and straight away demand a second one. When I stayed with him, I'd wake up in the mornings, go to his bed and slap him on his bald patch demanding to be fed!

He'd take me for walks to all the tourist attractions, proudly displaying his chubby grandchild to all. He seemed very proud of the amount of food I could consume, without exploding, and the physical strength I would display by lifting a wooden chair using one hand.

In the afternoons, when he wanted to take a nap, he'd take me with him and tell me the story of Tarzan walking his 300 sheep across the jungle. The flock would reach a narrow bridge, where only one by one could get past. "Count the sheep until they are all safely across, and then we'll continue" he'd say. He would doze off, while I was counting, snoring way.

He liked canaries! He would keep them in a cage, take care of them and talk to them as if they were humans. Once, he found ants in one of the cages, and decided to spray the cage with insecticide! Needless to say that within minutes the canary dropped like a brick off its perch! He really got some stick for that move! For years!

He liked wearing a tie, and his beret and go to "school". That's what he called the coffee shop he went to meet with other retirees, have a Greek coffee, play cards and talk politics. Then on his way home for lunch, he'd pass by our house and inform us on the goings on in his favourite TV series "Dallas"! He loved that show! He could talk about the nastiness of JR for hours!


The most characteristic of his possessions wass his car! The famous Greek built, three wheeled, fiberglass "Attica"! He used to go hunting in it. He'd leave at dawn on a Sunday morning, two barrel shotgun in hand, and return in the afternoon, with a couple of loaves of bread, a bag of greens and perhaps a couple of birds.

When he got sick--prostate cancer that evolved to bone marrow cancer--he suffered a lot of pain. I remember looking at him in bed, and he was like a baby. He had really shrunk! I had come back from the UK where I was studying and rushed over to see him. Although he was too tired to speak to anybody else, he stood up in his bed, and told me stories of the war. He could not let me see that he was suffering!

He's been one of the people who made a big mark in my life. To date I catch myself thinking "what would "Canon" say about this?". The thought of him makes me feel more confident and loved, determined and stronger to face difficulties of life.

There is no way I could be writing about my life, without dedicating a post to "Canon". My favourite grandfather, my friend; the person who took a little child and nurtured him to becoming a man.

18 comments:

Amel's Realm said...

LOVELY post. :-)))

Sorry to hear about his illness, though. It IS hard to see our loved ones deteriorate physically in front of our eyes.

Epimenides said...

Thank you AR! :)

JYankee said...

That's really nice EPI! It really important to have someone that you can say is your "role model" or your pillar in your life. Good memories to him!

The Real Mother Hen said...

Wow such a good blog with so much love and emotion. He is indeed a very special grandpa.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Btw, anything from your interview? Oh yes, forgot to mention that I've done the 8 random things before... sorry :(

Epimenides said...

Thanks jyankee!

Thank you mother hen! BTW I've had absolutely no feedback from my interview. Typical Greek! They don't even bother to let you know! :(

Random Magus said...

.. you're very lucky to have such memories....

HollyGL said...

This is a beautiful post. I had a "Grammy" who had the same kind of impact on my life. We were lucky to have them for as long as we did.

Epimenides said...

RM, Hollygl - Thank you for your kind words. Could it be that our grandparents' generation had to endure greater adversities than us, that it produced stronger people full of love?

Amel's Realm said...

I think it's all about choice. There are people who suffer much but yet they still glow so beautifully and grow old gracefully, yet there are others who suffer as much and grow old grumpily, bitterly, cynically.

Michelle said...

That was really beautiful, Epi.

You brought back some of my own favourite grandparent memories there too. :-)

Michelle said...

say, did you have a toy tank as a kid? green or camouflage paint?

I know, weird question! Just curious why I kept getting a picture of a toy tank when I was reading this.

David said...

Wow dude! That brought tears to my eyes. You're lucky to have had a role model like that, and someone you can remember with such affection. You certainly honored his memory well. When you were talking about food I was thinking of Max (my 3 year old) and how many times he's woken me the way you did Canon. There's just something about a hungry young boy that makes grown men proud--I have no idea why this is. Anyway, there's one paragraph where you say he was never a rich person but I think after reading the entire post that clearly he was; in all the ways that count.

Epimenides said...

amel - Well said!

Michelle - I had a few tanks as a kid. I particularly liked the German ones! :)

David - My eating habits have not changed significantly since. I just don't have someone to slap on the head for food though! :)

Michelle said...

Thanks Epi, that explains why I kept seeing a tank.

My cousin was war crazy. We'd have these battles on his bedrrom floor with entire armies of toy soldiers he'd painted by hand. Zapping them with marbles. I could lead a good attack in my day. ;-)

rp said...

Hi, Epi. I loved reading this. Thank you for sharing it. I just giggled when I read that Canon was 5 foot nothing. That was my Mom's dad. And full of piss and vinegar at 80 years of age. He was my Canon, in all ways. Thankfully taken quickly by a stroke when I was about 14.

My dad had the disease that claimed your grandfather. I am sorry you had to experience that, as I know too well just how hard it was on you and on him. My father would never let anyone know of his pain or fear.

Thanks again. Now, I need to go find the Kleenex.

Epimenides said...

thank you rp! :)

Michelle said...

Epi

The first day I read this I got something from your grandfather - the tank. I got a bit more, but I chickened out of saying so. :-\

If you're interested in knowing (it's not anything big or grand) - let me know. My email is on my website.

If not - that's fine too.

I just couldn't keep being a coward and leaving it.