Friday, 28 October 2011

Grandpa's Funeral

Wednesday's weather forecast was dull, gray and rainy...  The funeral set for 12:15pm to match with Grandpa Jerry's time of death on Thursday. 

Grandpa Jerry's funeral was short and sweet, just the way the man himself was.  Short, sweet and to the point.  He had zero patience when it came to anything that took too long.  "Say what's on your mind and be done with it already" was his attitude.

Dayton was devastated.  He cried through the whole funeral, making me having to 'keep it together.'  But once the bagpipes came out, I lost it along with him.  That is one thing Jerry and Dayton have in common, the love for bagpipes.  While Dayton can not handle loud noises or music class in school, he loves the loudest instrument of all...  bagpipes. 

It was odd to see Dayton so devastated over her grandpa's death.  The two of them barely spoke, and lived so far away from each other, separated by two provinces and just under 1300 miles...  Dayton seemed unfazed by the news of his grandpa's illness while at home in Winnipeg, but now that we're here in BC, that's all changed.

The poor boy's developed a rash all over the right side of his face, from his forehead to his jaw.  His right eye hurts and is red.  I took him to the doctor's office and he said he had no idea what the problem was.  When I told him that Dayton has PDD-NOS, he had no clue what that meant.  I had to explain it was a high functioning form of autism...  once he understood we both agreed that the rash may be due to stress.  Fantastic, thanks for your help doc.  Benadryl hasn't helped much, telling me it's not an allergy, but at least the Advil is helping Dayton with the pain. 

The pastor had prayed that the rain would stop at least for the burial, and God answered his prayer.  The rain let up just long enough for us to finish the ceremony. 

I wanted to keep a copy of the eulogy Jerry's daughter Monica wrote for her brother in law to read at the funeral, and I thought what better place to keep it than here...  At least I won't lose it, and I can share the beautiful eulogy with you all. 

Well I’m pretty sure that a few years ago Jerry probably would not have expected an Australian giving his eulogy – but here I am. For those of you who don’t know me my name is Iain – Jerry’s son-in-law. I have been given the honor of presenting Jerry’s Eulogy and representing his family – returning the favor just over a year after when Jerry gave the father of the Brides speech at our wedding. First a big thank you to all of you who shared your love, condolences and memories with us over the past few days – it has meant a lot to us and thanks for coming and showing our family that Jerry holds a special place in your heart. And a special thanks to those of you who have traveled from afar to be here and support us and to Brian Shaw, a dear friend of Jerry`s for playing the bagpipes today.

While I have only known Jerry a few years, I feel particularly close having spent some intimate time with him, a relatively large Canadian Elk, and a chainsaw. That certainly was a life changing experience for me – Jerry definitely had his out-of-the-box solutions for things.

Jerry Abraham Toews was born in 1947 in Smithers B.C. At around the age of 5 nearly hung himself. He was playing around an old, scrap car when he jumped off and his collar was caught. He was blue in the face by the time he was found and spent a month in hospital recovering. We have been very lucky for every moment of Jerry’s life as there were several near death events in his life.

Jerry came from a very large family – his father being one of 17 children, some of who are here for Jerry today. Jerry also had 7 siblings who all have a remarkable resemblance to him. When he was around 4 years old he nearly chopped off his older brother Ernie’s finger with an axe and in his early years had his front teeth knocked out by his younger sister Susie during a fight over a hockey stick – perhaps that’s why he didn’t enjoy watching hockey or other related sports? One thing is for certain - he had a special place in his heart for each of his brothers and sisters.

In 1970, Jerry met Margaret nee Bjorklund. In the early days, it was obvious Jerry was very fond of Margaret – so much that one day he wore a very large corsage Maggie gave him. Jerry later married Margaret and spent the rest of his life with her – the next 38 years.

Through marriage Jerry was blessed with 2 sons who he loved very much. Shortly after getting married, Jerry, Margaret, Glen and Dale moved to Campbell River where, to add to their family they had a beautiful daughter, Sheila and only 1 year later, twins. When Margaret was 8 months pregnant they found out they were having not only one but two babies!!! He was in so much shock he did not eat for three days. From then on, Jerry called each of the kids `Brat` - an endearing term to prevent him from getting the kids` mixed up. Jerry was then blessed with 10 grandkids with one more on the way.

Jerry was a very private, strong and proud man. He was proud of his country and British Columbia, which is deeply evident by his love for hunting, fishing and the wilderness. His love for the country worked hand in hand with his job as a truck driver – it provided an opportunity to explore the country, spend time alone, visit family, and take magnificent photos through the windscreen.

But his love for exploring was grounded – he simply refused to fly so he could never visit Monica & Carrie who live in Australia. So when the girls decided to get married together in Canada he was extremely excited.

While Jerry loved fishing and hunting Jerry loved of his family most of all. In his last few months, he wanted to leave Margaret something special – so with some help from Ernie, his son-in-law Mike, and a few others he finally build the extended patio Margaret had been asking for the past 35 years. After Jerry found out he had cancer he decided he wanted to visit Australia and make that commitment – yes, he was going to fly and has his passport to prove it. That would have been a huge milestone for Jerry as he was dead set against flying.

For those that knew Jerry well, also knew he had a quirky humor. Jerry had this humor until the day he died, sticking up a for sale sign with a bold Sold Banner for Margaret`s surprise on her return trip, or asking for a `cute` nurse in a humorous way. Thanks to all his Legion mates who helped play the Sold Banner prank on Maggie – he loved spending time with you, playing a game of pool and having a drink – it would only have been made better by taking away the house rule `ball in hand rule``.
In his last few years, he said that if he passed away he would not regret his life – he loved his life with Margaret and was extremely proud and happy to have his life fulfilled with his kids and grandchildren.

Well Jerry, I can say that you will be greatly missed but far from forgotten – we will hear you in the memories that are stored in our hearts and told and retold to our children. We will hear you each time we hear Alan Jackson or a great country music song. And we are all humming your tune, ``um-hum`. And yes, Jerry, you are here in the eyes of those gather here. I can see you in each of your children, your grandchildren, and your siblings. And I especially see you in Margaret, and in the love she holds for all of us. You have taught and given us so much strength and love that you will never be forgotten.

No Jerry, you will never be forgotten.  Rest in peace. 


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