I Don’t Know Jack: Mickey MacDonald’s House

When I think of my Grandfather I think of a massive, hulking man, stronger than oak even though he stood 5’5 and 150 pounds. When you are standing 2 feet tall and 3 years old, anyone will look huge. With that said, it is not about the size, it was about presence. Papa had a presence that could shake someone to their core, or overwhelm them with love when he sported that devilishly charming smile.

I miss my Papa. I will be 35 in October and there are times when I start thinking about him and Nan it brings tears to my eyes. I wish my son could have met the two people that left a solid footprint in my heart. I am still just a little boy who wants a hug and a treat from his Grandparents.

Nan passed away the year I moved to Revelstoke. she passed in the winter and I was not able to make my way back down to the mainland to see my family. I spent my time mourning alone. I recall walking along the river along the Big Eddy side fighting back my tears. It seems to me that when our grandparents hit a certain age bracket we expect them to leave us, we seem to come to terms with it based on that very notion. It’s the nature of the world, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t sting the soul.

I moved into Mickey MacDonald’s house a few months after. What a sweet, wonderful and absolutely joyful man. I truly enjoyed my time with him and he brought back a love that can only happen between an age gap of 50+ years. The life he lived, the places he had been too, jobs he worked, era’s he survived through are in my mind and in black and white.  He would sit on his porch, wearing jeans and a fleece sweater even on a hot day and share tales from the past as well as how he saw the present day.

“Well, Gee Murphy, Gee Murphy..tell me a big, big story!” Was a common request when I came downstairs to visit. It was to the point, where I would time my morning to make sure I had time to sit for 20 minutes with him on the porch in the summer and in the kitchen in the cooler months.

He had many visitors stop by to see him. Mickey had a certain pull, an attraction if you will. Perhaps it was that warm and welcoming Cape Breton mentality; whatever it was, Mickey owned it well.

Milo was a regular staple in Mickey’s routine when I was living there. That rambunctious Puggle would just brighten that mans soul when he would run down the stairs and into his arms. You could just see the love Mickey had for dogs, and how much dogs loved him.

When Mickey passed away, it was extremely sad news. Much like Papa or Nan, when someone is at a certain age and their time comes, we all quietly nod in agreement to the age and “it was his time” notion. I suppose, it is true for everyone.

Whenever I am walking with my son downtown and I happen to make my way passed Mickey’s house, I still expect to see him waving asking me to tell him a big story. I wish I could. I would have loved for Mickey to have met Jack. If only my son could take the wisdom from that man, he might have all the information he needs to succeed. I don’t know if I will ever get passed the idea of Mickey sitting on his porch waving me over for a chat. When I look where his rocking chair sat, I imagine what he would say to Jack…

“Well, hello Mister Man! You sure are a big, big boy! You sure are! I bet you have a big tale to tell me! What a good, good boy!

There are so many questions when it comes to being a new Dad. Perhaps only those who are already gone have all the answers. Maybe that is life’s Catch-22, you finally understand what it is all about, but you don’t get to share it before you pass. A little gift for yourself in your final twilight.

When I think about the 50 year difference between Mickey and myself, between what he knew and what I have yet to learn about fatherhood and about life, I realize that I still don’t know Jack!

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