Monday, August 4, 2014

Grampa's bong

Me and the Farm Manager were sitting on the front stoop, watching the sun set over the westerly horizon behind the barn, speculating about what kind of grandparents we would be.

Both of us are way late to the grand-parenting game by local standards. In these parts it's nothing to be a grandparent in your early thirties. In fact, it doesn't even raise eyebrows when you're a granny or grampa in your late twenties.

Do the math. You're a hot'n sexy grade nine cheerleader at age 14, and that one special evening with the captain of the football team renders you a parent nine months later.

Your beautiful daughter repeats history 14 years later, and voila, you're a grandparent before you're 30!

Happens all the time.

So we're sitting there, both of us in our sixties or close to it, neither of us grandparents yet, wondering where we went wrong.

But between the two of us there's five "juniors" and we know it's just a matter of time. We're kinda looking forward to it actually.

I can't speak for the Farm Manager. I know her grand-daddys, or Zaidas, came from Poland to the "promised land" which at the time of their arrival was Toronto rather than Palestine.

My grand-daddys came from Poland too. In fact, one of the ironies is that the Zaidas and the Opas came out of the same shit-hole shtetl. Well, maybe different suburbs of the same shit-hole shtetl, if one was to be precise.

On her side the Grampas did the usual immigrant bootstrap shit and lifted themselves into the middle class within a generation.

My side didn't arrive on these shores till after the WW2, and that didn't include the Grampas. One of them got stuck in a snowdrift outside of Stalingrad in the early '40's, and the other one had the massive good fortune to be captured in the first weeks of the war, and thereafter enjoyed the life of a POW in Britain and Ontario and Pennsylvania.

But that is not the end of it. When you stitch together a blended family in middle age there may be more Zaidas and Opas in the mix. The Farm Manager's kids also had a Grandfather who ran a farm out in Saskatchewan.

Ya, I know, Jew farmers, a rarely acknowledged fact in the modern era.

In fact, I was stunned to find, on the occasion of my visit to the "Coat of Many Colours" exhibit that toured Canada a few years ago, a Jewish farmer in Saskatchewan who had contributed something or other to the collection, and had the exact same name as my grandfather who whiled away the war years in prison camps in northern Ontario and Pennsylvania.

Ernst Neumann.

On my side my children have this guy in the family tree... he would be their great grandfather.

But enough about our forbears.

We were discussing what kind of grand-parents we might be if fate allows.

Whether I'm "Gramps" or "Opa" or "Zaida" is probably going to depend on which side of the family tree those grandchildren come from.

Wherever they come from, I guess I'll have to hide the bong...

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