Sunday, December 2, 2007

Grandpa William Batiuk ~ 1921 - 2007

As you may have read in one of my previous posts, Brian's grandpa past away just before American Thanksgiving. Last spring, he and grandma moved from their long time home in Trail, B.C. to be closer to family as their health conditions, including Grandpa's Alzheimer's, worsened. Grandpa had been in and out of the hospital with various ailments since then and it was sad to see him lose precious memories and be unable to do the things he loved like golfing and gardening. But even to the end, we continued to see his gentle spirit, his wit and his love of nature.

We held a family memorial service at Brian's parents last Saturday. Everyone got to share some fond memories:
  • how, even in his 80's, he beat Brian's aunt at golf
  • how he always affectionately and inexplicably called his grandkids "ginks"
  • how, every time the ginks would walk by and smack the newspaper he was reading, he wouldn't get upset but would just calmly uncrumple it and continue reading
  • how, one time, he did something no other mortal has done and lived: stood up to Grandma :) She was voicing, to Brian's brother, her not-so-favorable opinions about the "young people of today" when Grandpa astonished him by sticking up for us
  • how he would painstakingly fill out full pads of grocery store contest applications and win fabulous merchandise almost weekly
  • how he was one of the first people in B.C. to work on computers, but refused to own one in his home.
Overall, he will surely be remembered for his unfailing dedication to his family, his love of children (they always made his face brighten) and his never-ending wonder for nature.

We finished our celebration by listening to and reading his favorite Ukrainian hymn and eating a Ukrainian meal (he loved his heritage). Grandma gave each of the branches of his family a Ukrainian memento to remind us of grandpa.

My last memory of grandpa took place over Canadian Thanksgiving in October. We picked him up from his nursing home so he could celebrate with us. Carol, Brian's mom, asked me if I would give him a haircut, since I regularly cut Brian's hair. I was a little nervous, but I agreed.

Although, he didn't have much hair, it still was an adventure. His diabetes made him very sensitive to touch, so I was careful not to startle him too much. The toughest part was his neck. Several times I asked him to look down. I think it was the third time when he turned to me and, unsure why he would want to do such a thing, said, "There's just a dog down there." Carol and I had a good chuckle and I decided to just do my best without getting him to look down. I didn't have much time with Grandpa Batiuk, but the times I did I saw a man to be admired and we will always remember him.

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