It was a hot Saturday
afternoon when I stopped at the
to update pictures for my web site at valleyeasttoday.ca. After taking a
few photos, I noticed three young girls sitting in front of a headstone.
My curiosity got the best of me so I went over and asked them what they
were doing. Little did I know that I was about to experience one of the
most touching ten minutes of my life.
Emly (spelled without an i)
McKibbon, the young 12 year old girl on the far left in the photo, was the
first to speak. “We’re visiting my Grandpa,” she said as she pointed
to the monument on which was engraved, John McKibbon 1936 – 1993.
Fifty-seven years old, I thought to myself. “Me and my step-sisters come
here often to fix the flowers and talk to him.”
Sonni, the oldest of the
three at 13, sitting in the middle, added, “Sometimes we just come here
and sit. It is pretty quiet and there are not usually too many people
around so it is peaceful.”
Rebecca, 12, sitting on
the right, said, “Sometimes we walk around and pick up papers and pop
cans that people leave around too. It is sad that some people leave the
place in a mess, but we don’t mind cleaning it up”
“I didn’t know my
Grandpa,” said Emly in a quiet voice. “He died when I was seven months
old. But my mom said that he always wanted to be around me and went
wherever my mom took me.” I spoke to her mother, Colleen, and she
confirmed that Emly was indeed, Grandpa’s Girl. “He was a wonderful
father,” she commented, “and he sure loved his granddaughter.”
During the conversation
with the girls I kept having visions of my own granddaughter who just
turned 12 months old on July 3. I thought about Grandpa John, a man who
was only two years older than myself. I know how I feel about my little
Hailee. I know how I feel when she stretches out her arms for me to hold
her and how I feel when people say that she is Grandpa’s girl. I looked
at Emly and told her, “Your Grandpa knew you, Emly. For those seven
months he knew you and he knew you loved him and that’s what is
important.” It was about thirty degrees outside that day, but there were
shivers going up and down my body as we spoke. I could sense that there
was someone else out there with us that afternoon.
I found out during our
conversation that one day last year these three young girls brought large
bundles of hand-picked flowers and put a flower on each headstone in the
cemetery. They looked so much at ease sitting on the grass, visiting
Grandpa John. Even though Sonni and Rebecca came into the family long
after John’s death, they still spoke about him as if they knew him.
As I pulled out of the
cemetery and headed along
, I noted that my allergies must have been bothering me, because my eyes
were a bit watery and my nose was running. It was hard to drive for a
couple of minutes. I knew that the next time I held Hailee in my arms I
was going to squeeze her a bit more tightly and hold her for a little
longer than usual.
I don’t think I ever met
John, but I feel I know him. He would be extremely proud of his
granddaughter. And I know he’s resting in peace knowing that Emly is
still Grandpa’s Girl.