The Things You Remember


Probably the earliest memory I have of my Uncle Gerry is when he was going to university and he and Aunt Sandra took me out to do things. Well, I guess she wasn’t my aunt then, but one thing led to another, and you know the story. I don’t remember much about that trip, like how I got there, how old I would have been, or what I ate, but I do remember two things. Sort of.

The first one was picking through some sort of a roadside pit for fossils. He showed me core samples and also explained what they were for, and how they got them. I assume he had taken a geology class or something. He was very smart like that. I was fascinated with the shapes of skeletons, and what have you, that were embedded in these chunks of rock. For some reason I think it was shot rock from where they blasted a highway through, but I could be completely off-base on that. Perhaps we’ll never know.

The other thing I remember was how fun and funny my future aunt was. Uncle Gerry was kind of quiet and reserved, if I remember correctly, but it probably just seemed that way because she had so much fun that it would make anyone seem like a bore. The most shocking thing was when we were in a dorm or something similar and he went to have a shower. Aunt Sandra hid around a corner on him, and as he came walking down the hall she jumped out behind him and ripped his towel off. We laughed and laughed, but I don’t remember Uncle Gerry thinking it was that funny. Maybe he did, but I was like four years old or something. How the hell am I going to remember all of that?

I spent quite a lot of time with them as a little kid, and I loved when she would pick me up and take me to see her dad. He had a big smile and an even bigger laugh, and I can remember him always joking around with me. He was one of those people that made you feel good, just by paying attention to you. Maybe it was because I was a kid and he liked kids, but I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure he was like that with everyone. I remember hearing his name the odd time around town, and it was never with anything but fondness.

GibsonBasilI didn’t see much of him as I got older. I suppose it’s one of those things that you just don’t pay attention to. I could have easily gone to see him as a teenager in high school, but I didn’t. If I remember correctly, he had a clothing store downtown that we used to go to, but it didn’t sell cigarettes or hamburgers, so why would a hooligan like me even bother to stop by? Weird, huh? You’re physically so close to someone that you really like, and you don’t even bother to stick your head in and say hello as you walk by. I find that strange. These days I wouldn’t think twice about it if he still had the shop.

Another thing I found odd, was that I only ever knew him as “Gibby”. That’s all I had ever heard anybody call him. I think Aunt Sandra called him Gibby too, but of course I’m probably wrong. I didn’t know his real name was Basil, until I saw it in his obituary. I also didn’t know that he was such a decorated veteran from the Korean War, that my buddy, John was his nephew, or that he was born in Nova Scotia.

These are all things that I might have known, had I taken the time out of my day to say hi and just kept in touch. It’s a relatively easy thing to do. Drop by with a coffee on a cold morning, or a beer on a hot afternoon. People like that. Well I do, anyhow. I love to know that people are thinking about me, even if it’s just Gadget honking on the way by or a quick text from a busy friend.

I’m sure that Gibby had a rich, full life, even though I never stopped by to visit, but here was a guy that probably had a mitt full of stories and adventures from his 85 years on this rock, and I’ll never hear him tell them. That’s a big deal for me, because there is nothing I like better than listening to stories from people who have done things. Important things. Fascinating things. Things I couldn’t fathom.

So long, Gibby. I hope life took you to wherever you were aiming on going. I’m a little bit pissed off that I never got to hear your story, but life’s like that. I guess I’ll have to look forward to one of your talented lineage writing a book, or better yet, a blog.

Some trails are happy ones, others are blue, it’s the way you ride the trail that counts, here’s a happy one for you,


I’m linking up with Yeah Write this week, because I’m under 1000 words, and there’s kind of a roundabout story here. Who knows? I might make it through.

34 thoughts on “The Things You Remember

  1. My own grandmother lived close by when I was a teenager. I didn’t visit her nearly as often as I should have and if she were only alive now I’d be full of questions. Just further proof that teenagers are brain dead. However I think older people are wise that way so they forgive you. Great tribute to Gibby.

  2. I know it’s futile, but I try to pass this piece of wisdom on as much as I can. I lost many years with my Grandmother during my “hooligan” phase. Luckily she lived to be 96 and before she left this earth I got to hear some seriously amazing stories. But not enough of them. And not when she remembered them even better.

  3. Yay, you made it on the grid. You really make me kick myself in the ass here. There are times I’m in the same city as my grandmother but in too much of a hurry to get home. I should be making the time to stop in and see her – even if that means I’ve got to go to her local Timmies.

  4. Sounds like Gibby was a wonderful man. As kids we just don’t have the capacity to think about others in that way. It never occurs to us that they won’t be around forever.

  5. I like how you captured, in your musings about Gibby, how as we mature we begin to realize that the things we didn’t think were important. . . are actually important. Great tale of growing up. . .

  6. I’m so sorry about Gibby. He sure sounds like he was a wonderful guy.

    I relate to the regret here. It’s so sad and frustrating after the people we love are gone to think about all the memories we missed creating and the stories we never heard.

  7. I’m guilty in the past. And am still guilty of this more than I’d like to admit. Embarrassing really, but it’s good to get a reality check like this.. I will continue to grow and be a better, more selfless person.

  8. The image of your aunt jumping out behind your uncle is really funny. And the loss of a respected elder is poignant under any circumstances, but especially when there is regret involved.

  9. My grandfather was a painfully quiet man. I remember going there and staying overnight when I was a little kid and can honestly not remember him ever talking. It wasn’t until about 10 years or so before he passed away that I discovered he was an incredibly funny guy. That things in life that others deemed normal, he saw a funny side to them. Of course, like you, by then I was a teenager and didn’t visit as much as I should have. It’s only now that I recognize that quality that he had as something that I share with him, even in some small way. I wish I had stopped by more often and got to know him better,

  10. I liked this. You have a unique writing voice. I could hear you in my head. I’m sorry you never got to know Gibby better but your story makes me think I should pick up the phone and give my granny a call tomorrow!

    Thanks for the not so gentle reminder. 😉

  11. Death has a way of putting things into perspective. I’d like to say that I’m better about visiting people, but truthfully, I’ve started slacking as the harsh reminder has become foggy over the passing months. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

  12. Sorry for your loss. It’s tough when you look back at your kid self with grown up eyes and realize the things you should have done. And you did what normal kids do – they’d rather hang out with friends than with the older folks, learning what they should. They don’t realize how quickly you can lose someone and then it’s too late for all those should haves. I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience.

  13. This is a very sweet post. It’s so true that keeping in touch is easy. Easy and one of the most beneficial things we can do on any day. I think the way our modern life spaces us apart makes us act more formally. I will be texting a couple friends today randomly, just to say hi, because of this post 🙂

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