APPLE SEEDS:  20 years and still missing my dad

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APPLE SEEDS:  20 years and still missing my dad



What can happen in 20 years?

The passing of 20 years can mark many milestones.  It represents a chunk of time that can identifiy significant changes in culture, in music and in technology. 

If my memory is correct, 20 years ago Tim Hortons served pretty much coffee and doughnuts, and you often had to get out of your car to get them.   

Jerry Maguire was at the box office, and the iconic “You had me at hello” still melts my heart. 

The World Wide Web saw the launch of Travelocity, even though only the fortunate few owned a “home computer system”.

The Macarena was the # 1 hit of 1996.  

Two decades sounds like a long time.  It IS a long time.  As much as things change, so much stays the same. 

Yes…  we are still drinking Tim Hortons coffee, Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger can still rock the box office, Travelocity can still get you places, and the Macarena is still on every wedding DJ’s playlist. 

What hasn’t changed for me, is missing my Dad.  Gerald (Gerry) Grills, owner and proprietor of Grills Orchards, passed away May 3, 1996 in his 60th year.   

Strangely enough, as my parents prepared that morning to leave on a road trip to visit family in the U.S., both my sisters and I arrived at our farmhouse at the same time to see them off.  Unplanned, and in my case, a detour from work, we unknowingly gathered together for the last time. 

I will never forget the call from St. Joe’s hospital in Burlington that Dad had suffered a heart attack.  And just like that, on a Friday night, he was gone.

Every single day, for the last 20 years, I think of my father, more posthumously than when he was around, sadly.  But the love of a parent is one most often taken for granted. 

That being said, we three Grills girls always knew we had something special.  He set the bar high for how you are supposed to live your life – simply and with great respect for everyone and everything.  He expected nothing less from his children, and taught by example the value of kindness and honesty. 

I have written of my good fortune in attending recent funerals.  Although it didn’t feel like at the time, I had the honour of standing in the receiving line as hundreds of people paid their respects. 

I had the good fortune to listen to stories of the man known as Gerry: stories of his generosity in spirit and treasures; apples delivered to nurses at the hospital, and the tellers at the bank.   In many cases stories we had never heard, recounted by people we had never met. 

My dad was extremely fond of visiting a good diner or coffee shop on one of his drives.  One time, my dad accompanied me to a funeral when I didn’t want to go alone.  On the way back, travelling along a road in The County he said the familiar words “want to stop for a coffee”. 

As we entered this small, innocuous diner, we were greeted with “Hey Gerry, who’s with you today?” He proudly introduced me, then queried the waitress about her health, her son in college and other small talk. 

I couldn’t help but wonder - How does he know these people?  In his words, “I ask, and then I listen”.  I realized the appeal wasn’t the restaurant or the pie, it was the people (except Annie’s in Stirling was definitely the raspberry cream pie).

Twenty years can spawn an entire generation with new values and thought processes.   In that time, our children have children, and so the circle of life and love continues. 

Daily, I remember the gentle man I knew as Daddy.   Daily, I try and reach that bar, some days more successfully than others.   The memories of my Dad always make me smile, and stories of his life continue to be told.

Read More: Opinion, Apple Seeds

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