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Opa Oepie

80 years
6 children
16 grandchildren
8 great-grandchildren


My Opa, my mom’s dad, passed away on Thursday after a well-fought battle with cancer. He was a great man, the best grandfather I could ever imagine. My favorite childhood memories are of time spent with him. He always had time for us.


He took us toobalooping, fishing, and he played soccer in his back yard every Friday night with the neighborhood kids.


I vaguely remember a song we made up about toobalooping to the tune of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

Kaylie and Opa play Foosball

He taught me how to play pool on the pool table in his basement. I learned to play Hearts at his kitchen table. He was hard to beat at Foosball.

Me, Liliana, my mom, Opa, Kaylie

He taught me how to wait tables and how to pump gas. Some of my favorite times were spent “working” with him. I made $30 in tips one summer and it was like I’d won the lottery.

Liliana, Kaylie, Opa, Maya

He ate raw eggs on his mashed potatoes, made the best pancakes, and put loads of salt on everything. I always liked visiting him on Saturdays, because it meant Brown Bean Soup day at the cafe.

Liliana, Opa, Kaylie

He gave greasy cheek-kisses. He always had King peppermints in his pocket and gave them to us at church.

Opa's photo wall

His house is full of photos of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends. He had a huge garden and was so generous to me with his produce.

Liliana, Opa, Shawna

He loved puzzles. When I was a kid, he would draw out word or picture puzzles/riddles for me on the place mats at the cafe. He could solve a Rubix cube in minutes. He had all sorts of figure-it-out-type puzzles at his house, some of them I could solve, some of them I would spend hours only attempting.

Opa and Kaylie play Scrabble

He loved Scrabble. He liked to play quickly and I could never keep up. He was so patient, though.

Opa and Liliana

He sent me a birthday card every single year. He never had a problem telling us how much he loved us and how special we were to him. He bought us KFC every time he came to visit.

Opa and Kaylie

He had one of those spirits that never got old. The last Telkwa Barbeque I was at, about five years ago, he was helping “the seniors” make pancakes. He was 75.

Opa and Liliana

He loved the Holland soccer team and had a huge orange Hup Holland flag in his entrance way.

Liliana, Maya, Opa, Kaylie

I don’t remember a Grandparents Day at school that he did not attend. While the other grandparents were dressed in old people clothes, he was in a polo shirt, cargo pants, and runners. Everyone knew who he was and I was always proud that he was my Opa.

Day 5: Telkwa

He loved to sing and I loved to listen to him sing. Teresa texted me last night to tell me that his answering machine had him singing the message so I called it a couple times and then voice-recorded it.

singing at Brandon's wedding

He took a trip out here for Kaylie’s spring break when we lived in Regina. It was so fun showing him around and taking him to all the places he wanted to see.

Project 365: Day 80

He said that, after the BC Lions, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were his favorite CFL team, so we took him to Taylor Field.

Project 365: Day 81

It was so fun to have him, and the girls absolutely loved spending time with him. While he was there, Liliana would let only him take her out of her car seat.

When I learned he was sick, I took the girls out to Telkwa for a visit.

Kaylie and Opa play Scrabble

It was strange to see him unwell, as he’d always been so independent, outgoing, and active.

Eli, Chels, Opa, Liliana

When I got the call from my dad, I waited until the next morning to tell Kaylie about Opa’s death because I wanted her to be able to have the day to process it instead of crying herself to sleep right away. She pulled out and read a letter he’d written her a couple months ago, in response to the Christmas card/letter she’d sent him. I left her alone in her room to process things and she came out a half hour later with some words that she’d like to say at his memorial.

Kaylie, Preston, and I are leaving tomorrow morning for the 20-hour drive. After thinking through all the possible scenarios, Noah and I decided that Liliana would stay here with him, as she does not like traveling and it would be stressful to keep her quiet at a memorial that she does not understand. Noah’s still in the probation period of his job and it would just not be wise to take a whole week off already.

As much as I’m looking forward to seeing my family in a couple days, I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to someone who had such a tremendous impact on my life. I don’t like thinking about stepping into his house without his voice to say hello to. It’s such a surreal thing to think about.

Rest in peace, Opa. We love you and we miss you.

Categories: family, life

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Teresa Saturday, July 16, 2011, 11:43 am

    What a beautiful tribute to your Opa. I’m all tear-eyed. I will always remember his warm smile and hearty laugh.

  • Melissa Saturday, July 16, 2011, 12:06 pm

    He sounds like a wonderful man. I’m so sorry for your loss – my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Becca Saturday, July 16, 2011, 12:47 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to what sounds like a wonderful man. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Poetic chronicles Saturday, July 16, 2011, 12:50 pm

    What sad news! So sorry for this loss! He sounds like a great man and he will remain a part of you forever. My thoughts are with you.

  • Bobbie Saturday, July 16, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Jen these are beautiful memories, you’ve made me tear up…… What an Awesome Opa he was to you and your children. I hope to someday leave this kind of a legacy for my children.

  • bethany actually Saturday, July 16, 2011, 2:35 pm

    This is beautiful, Jen. He sounds like he was a wonderful manm who had a big impact on and was loved by many people. I’ll keep you all in my prayers as you travel.

  • Eryn Saturday, July 16, 2011, 7:42 pm

    Lovely memories Jen. What helped me walking into my Gramma’s house after she passed away was that I just kept concentrating on the fact that the memories I had were in my heart not in the house itself. Hopefully that will help you. Death is a strange thing, but remember your Opa is in Heaven with God and is no longer in pain. My prayers are with you and your family. Be strong and keep God close during this time!

  • Jen Saturday, July 16, 2011, 8:25 pm

    Beautiful post Jen! Sorry to hear about your loss. He sounds like a remarkable man.

    Also, Lilliana looks a lot like him!

  • Ashley Sunday, July 17, 2011, 9:06 am

    That was so beautiful, and I’m so sorry. Saying goodbye to someone you love is so hard. We’ll be praying for you guys for a safe drive and for peace at the memorial.

  • Angella Sunday, July 17, 2011, 9:34 am

    I’m all teary over here. What a beautiful tribute, Jen. Big hugs and prayers. Safe travels!

  • suzy Sunday, July 17, 2011, 10:11 am

    aw, i’m sorry jen.

  • Patty Sunday, July 17, 2011, 6:49 pm

    My thoughts are with you and your family. Treasure those memories, they are so special.

  • Jolene Sunday, July 17, 2011, 8:10 pm

    Beautiful post Jen, it made me cry! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!

  • LaurenC Monday, July 18, 2011, 7:27 am

    Oh Jen, I’m all blubbery over here.
    I know what you mean about stepping into his house without him being there. I still have that feeling when I step into my grandad’s garage or into the living room where he used to sit.
    Know that I am sending you useless internet hugs, my friend, and that you are in my thoughts.
    Safe travels.

  • AlnaFamaron Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 2:10 am

    I know I’m not close to you or even know you but I have to say you have a Beautiful family. I’m sorry for your loss, really i am. He looked like he loved you all so much and that he’s was very happy person. Treasure all the memories, they’re all so precious. *hugs*

  • Sarah Thursday, July 21, 2011, 8:22 am

    This is such a fine tribute. I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Meg Thursday, July 21, 2011, 9:42 pm

    You and your family was so blessed to have such a wonderful man in your life.
    I’m so sorry sweetie.

  • Jessica Friday, July 22, 2011, 9:42 am

    Such a beautiful tribute. I got goosebumps as the pictures began to show his deteriorating health. My grandpa was so similar and I miss him very much. So sorry for your loss.

  • Marie Friday, July 22, 2011, 10:11 am

    Lovely! I am so sorry for your loss, but so happy you have so wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  • Dad Sunday, July 24, 2011, 10:16 am

    Wow Jen, what a beautifull tribute, we will all miss him dearly.