A couple days after the terrible horrible no good very bad weekend, my Opa (my mom’s dad) called to say that he’d be at our house later that week. I’m pretty sure God knew that I needed a pick-me-up.
The timing was actually bittersweet. It was bad because I didn’t have a whole lot of time to sleep and ended up calling in sick to work one night (I actually was sick, the I’ve-already-been-up-for-over-24-hours-I-can’t-handle-another-8 kind of sick), but it was good because I’d had a VERY bad weekend and was stoked to see him after not seeing him in almost a year.
My Opa loves Scrabble, which worked out well for us, since we love it too. I didn’t get the opportunity to beat him (he beat me a couple times), but apparently Noah beat him in at least one of their 20 or so games.
During the only full day that he was here, Liliana and I got to hang out with him while Kaylie and Noah were in school. There were a couple things that he specifically wanted to see, so we fulfilled his requests.
We took him to Mosaic Stadium/Taylor Field so that he could say that he had been there. He said that his favorite CFL team is the Lions (since he’s from BC), but that the Roughriders are his second favorite. He was surprised at how small the stadium was. I’d never been to this field before, and the only other stadium I have been to is Qualcomm in San Diego, but it seemed pretty big to me. It’s obviously not as big as an NFL stadium, but to a tiny person standing there, it seemed pretty large.
He didn’t want to tour the parlaiment building, but we drove through the gardens and then to the war memorial. There is a statue of a woman there, and I have never really understood who/what she represents. Apparently she represents the war brides that came to Canada with the returning soldiers. In my ignorance, I had no idea what a war bride was, but my Opa was kind enough to fill me in.
He also told me of when he immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands (Holland). He said that it was described as a land of opportunity and that it sounded too good to be true. He said that he was told by relatives that had already come that Canada lived up to what was said about it. He came here and was very disappointed. He said that the people had lied.
Apparently the Dutch are very good farmers. The Canadians at that time treated them very badly. My Opa was never a farmer, but he knew people that were, and they were not treated well. At that time there was a Dutch saying that was something like, “Canada: Land of much opportunity and much sorrow.” Apparently when it’s said in Dutch, it rhymes, but like anything translated from another language, it just doesn’t sound the same after translation.
We went to the IMAX after Kaylie was off school. It was something about fossils of huge prehistoric fish of some kind. Anyway, Opa said that when he worked in the coal mines, he came across fossils all the time and they were just thrown aside because there were so many of them. He said that, looking back, he wishes he would have kept a couple items.
I absolutely love hearing stories from my grandparents. When we still lived in Terrace, my Grandma (my dad’s mom) would come over for tea sometimes and she’d tell me what it was like when they first moved to Canada (also from the Netherlands), and when my dad was a kid, and when she had babies. She told me of how she didn’t mind when they were late – she was glad, because it meant that they would be born big and healthy and would be good nursers.
Liliana was a little stand-off-ish when Opa first got here, but she soon let down her guard and wouldn’t let him out of her sight. When we were out and about on the Friday morning that he was here, every time he got out of the vehicle before her, she’d yell, “Upa! Upa!” and start crying until he got her from her carseat.
Kaylie took Opa on a wild-goose-chased walk to the university (we had NO IDEA where they were, as Kaylie had just asked him to play outside with her) and loved that Opa played so many games with her. He is all about the games. All types. Cards, board games (especially Scrabble), puzzle games, sports …
Growing up, he was the ultimate grandparent. He was always very hands-on when we visited. We’d play a game called Over that involved throwing a ball over a building while the other team tried to catch it and then run to the other side without getting caught. He also had a soccer game at his house every Friday night for the neighborhood kids. Soccer is another love of his. (Hup Holland!)
In the winter, he’d take us all tubalooping. He’d blow up ginormous truck tire tubes and we’d wreak havoc on a large snow-covered hill. He had (has?) a pool table in his basement and taught me how to play pool, even though I really sucked (still do) and never got any good. My cousins/siblings and I used to just roll the balls around and see how many we could get in each pocket. We were good at that.
I have nothing but good memories about my Opa during my growing-up years, and the time he was here just added to it. It was definitely an enjoyable experience to have him around and we can’t wait to see him again.