Happy Birthday Grandpa Fenner
And oh, how I wish he was here so I could say it to him.
Grandpa Fenner was in my life for only twelve years. He died too young at the age of 66. My younger sisters Lori and Cyndy barely remember him. I am very thankful that I can still remember him well.
Grandpa was a very soft spoken man. He had a very quiet presence about him. He lived all of his life either at the Ruscomb home farm where he was born, or on the farm down by the tracks that his dad, my Great Grandfather Adam and my great grandmother Agnes (Irwin) bought sometime before Great Grandpa died in 1910.
It’s that farm by the tracks where I remember Grandpa best. My dad told me that my grandpa took a different life path from his father Adam. Adam, dad says, didn’t walk. He ran. For town council. For the next meeting. He was going concern. He died at 45. One of dad’s favourite cautionary words are about “flying too high”. Grandpa’s main objective in life was to be a humble man of the soil, devoted to his mother, wife and children; his community (through church and Oddfellows Lodge where he was a very active member); and to his grandchildren.
Grandpa Fenner was the best of grandfathers, often as a co-conspirator with his grandchildren. One of my most fun memories is that he would tell my cousin Robbie (who lived in the city) to go hide in the barn when they were about to leave so he didn’t have to go home. It usually worked, much to the exasperation of my Aunt Audrey. I don’t remember a lot of things I did with my grandfather. I just remember him as being this solid presence who was always there for us, and I had the quiet security as a kid of knowing that he always would be.
We lived just down the road for the first eight years of my life, and we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s as often as we were at home. It was hard on all of us when my mom and dad bought their own farm near Harrow, about a 40 minute drive away. We still were in Ruscomb a lot, but it wasn’t quite the same as living there. My grandfather, I think, had the dream that he and his son would farm side by side until the end of his days. As often happens between father and son, my dad wanted to be on his own. My grandfather cried when dad told him he was moving away. I’m not saying that to be critical of my dad .. especially since that independent streak is something that is part of me too. He needed to do what he needed to do. I mention it because it’s something that affected my grandfather deeply and acknowledging these things helps me understand the person he was. Joy and pain. It’s all part of a life.
Miss you Grandpa. I’m glad I got twelve years with you. Even if I wish you’d been given more years.