Sunrise, Sunset

Beatrice, of Coquitlam, BC, passed away November 17, 2015, at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody, BC. She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Walter, her parents, James and Christiana (Brooks) Dunlop, four brothers and two sisters. Beatrice is survived by her son Terry (Roberta) Hluska, her daughter Betty (Ed) Andrews, grandchildren Gregory and Stephanie Hluska and their mother Dollette of Regina, Tamara Good, Leanne (Good) Day (Darren), Robert Good and their father Doug of New Westminster, and great-grandchildren Tyler, Jacob and Ethan, sons of Leanne, and Devin, daughter of Robert. Bea was born to James and Christiana (Brooks) Dunlop on December 10, 1920, in Marwayne, Alberta. Beatrice will be remembered for her kind, gentle spirit and her love of family and friends. She will be greatly missed by all who were privileged to know her. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Beatrice’s name may be made to BC Heart & Stroke Foundation or BC Cancer Foundation. We will be celebrating Beatrice’s life in a Memorial Service at Burkeview Chapel in Port Coquitlam, BC, the date of which will be announced as soon as it has been arranged.

When I first came back online, I promised to restrict my blogging to more professional subjects. In this case though, I beg your forgiveness. For, while my Grandmother’s death has nothing to do with digital marketing or technology, her life was instrumental in helping me become the professional that I am.

My first introduction to beautiful writing was when, as a child, my Mom would read my Grandma Bea’s letters to us over the supper table. My Grandma’s writing was beautiful, expressive and clear. She had a way of relating stories about distant relatives in a way that brought them to life in front of my eyes. Grandma was truly a master storyteller and her handwriting was equally as masterful - it flowed beautifully over pages.

As I grew up, my relationship with Grandma changed. We went from a typical Grandmother-grandson relationship into something deeper…something more akin to friendship. For example, I was on a work trip when my stepfather died. I was working for a small startup that couldn’t afford to bring me back to Regina for the funeral, so I spent the day of the funeral working in Vancouver.

That evening, Grandma and I sat up until nearly 5am, drinking copious amounts of tea and talking about all the tragedy that had befallen my family. She told me all about my Grandpa Walt’s death and the epic battle she fought against his sisters to have his ashes thrown into his beloved ocean. Grandma told me how one of my Grandpa’s sisters equated laying Grandpa to rest in the ocean as ‘something fit for a dog.’ Yet, despite this considerable pressure, she stood up to all of the forces and laid Grandpa’s ashes in the one place he loved as much as his home.

Grandma was tough like that. After the story, she told me about a letter she wrote to one of Grandpa’s sisters that was, for lack of a better term, fucking brutal. Grandma regretted sending that letter, but she never regretted standing up for the love of her life.

Grandma also talked about her loneliness. She had never dated after my Grandpa’s death and yet she certainly noticed men. She talked about seeing new widowers, their hair slicked back just so, bright gold necklaces and the smell of cologne.

And, Grandma also talked about family. She was deeply committed to her children (my Dad and my Auntie Betty) and grandchildren. She talked about how love meant that sometimes you didn’t agree with your own, but they were always your own and as such, you needed to defend them. My Grandma had the world’s only two perfect children, five perfect grandchildren and four perfect great-grandchildren.

I will never forget the cards Grandma would send me for my birthday. Her beautiful handwriting, the absolute perfect message for me at that particular year, and her amazing signature.

Gram Bea.

Nor will I forget the last Christmas that I ever spent with Grandma or the hilarity of being about twenty feet below a fog horn when it let out its truly epic blast. When Grandma was about to tell a joke, her lips contorted in a look of pure mischief that made her look all of twelve. After the fog horn went off, she grabbed onto my forearm, softly tapped my upper arm with her other fist and said, “I think I better go change my pants.” The mischievous look on her face, the hilarity of the moment and her flat tone made that one of the funniest memories of my life.

Afterwards, we went back to my Dad and Roberta’s home. My Grandma and I sat in the living room and had another of our amazing talks. She talked about ‘the nice Scottish couple’ she lived with when she was working at a convenience store in a mining town. And she talked about the mischievous Ukrainian coal miner who used to come in daily to buy a chocolate bar. At first, she thought that he must have really liked candy. But after awhile, she came to realize that he really liked her.

Whenever my Grandma and I would part ways after too short of a visit, we would hug and she would say, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Then, her lips contorted into that oh-so familiar look of mischief and she remarked, “Not that there’s anything particularly sweet about this.”

Parting is such sweet sorrow and no, there is nothing particularly sweet about this.

But, every sunset leads to a sunrise. I am expecting my first child, a daughter - she is due on March 6th. In ultrasound photos, I can already see that she is just such a beautiful little girl. In one particular image, she looks exactly like my Grandma Bea and, based on how she is acting in the womb, I bet that she will be full of mischief. Her Mom and I have not settled on a name yet.

Having a child on the way is the most humbling experience of my life. I have accomplished some amazing things, but nothing I have ever done can even compare to her.

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, Blossoming even as we gaze.

Written on January 18, 2016