So it’s been ten years since you left us so I thought it was high time I got you caught up. It really doesn’t matter how old I am when I write to you, I always feel like the little boy in the photo holding a fish standing next to you. The other day on the 12th JoAnn and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. Well, you totally lost that bet. I think your comment was “I give it ten years, five if she cooks”. As it turns out I kind of like Dutch food, yeah she’s still Dutch and there is nothing I can do about that. The one thing JoAnn seems to be very good at is being a mom so I just stand back and try not to get in the way. Our girls are so lucky, they just won’t know it for a few decades till they start to reflect on heir childhood.
Not sure if you heard about Mom. Back in late 2016, she had a pretty bad fall that landed her in hospital. That spelt the end of her time alone in the house in Smithville. Last year Mike and Ann got her into a great facility close to them in the Falls. It was a bit surreal to help pack up the house as it was the last time many of those things would ever be together under the same roof. On the downside why on earth did you keep some of that crap for so long?
Kate turned 15 two days ago. Only 15, it feels like she’s been a teenager for about a decade rather than just two years. On the upside, we only have 5 more teen years with her, but on the downside, we have her three sisters still yet to crack the teen mark. Kate reminds me of me on so many levels and not the sort of traits I’m all that proud of. Moody, angry, argumentative for no reason, bull-headed, stubborn. She also has a sensitive side she likes to keep locked up and out of reach from everyone which I also understand. Clearly, we did give her the name that suites her as just like her namesake she’s quite good at creating art. She’s not a traditional painter but rather a digital artist. She’s always drawing on her i-pad which we tell her to not spend so much time on but it’s hard to be annoyed when you see the end result. She’s in Europe with her guide troop so this is our first time ever not seeing her on her birthday. Not sure who’s suffering from the separation more, mom or child.
Emilia is 12 and finally becomes the second teenager in the house this December. Her age, however, has not stopped her growing as she’s as tall if not a hair taller than her older sister. She also shares a few of my less desirable traits in that she’s a bit OCD. She collects things and arranges them constantly and changes her rooms furniture on regular bases. Things I did all the time as a teen. You can actually see the colour of her walls under the photos she has taped to them but I credit that to her mother as I think given her way she’d have blocked it all out like I did. She has a few passions I don’t share like her love of horror films. I’m still having nightmares about “the Amityville Horror” from 1979 and refuse to set my alarm for 3:15 on nights I need that wake-up call opting instead for 3:16. Better safe than sorry.
Samantha is the first granddaughter you never had the opportunity to meet, but you did know about her. Born less than 24 hours after you departed this world if your spirit landed anywhere, Sam has it. This granddaughter of yours is so sweet and innocent some days but on the other hand, she can be violently stubborn. She takes tantrums to the next level like I’ve never seen before. She refuses to give in once she’s taken her stand and drawn a line in the sand. Who does that remind you of? If she ever becomes a union organizer like yourself I think she’ll fit right in. She’s incredibly smart and turns 10 tomorrow but I don’t think it’s too early to draft her now.
Danielle is my little girl, she came along a few years after you left us so like Sam she’s never had the first-hand experience to meet you. That may be a good thing for them, who knows. Really I wish you were around to experience them because I know all four of my girls would have changed your life. You were one of three boys born into a family with stoic parents. You and mom had three boys yourself so you’ve never ever known the joys of being around girls. Nor had I till now. I know you had one granddaughter but taking on a personality like yours was probably a pretty tall order for Sarah on her own. She needed allies. I recently uncovered an old video I created back in 2005 when we flew east for your mom’s funeral. Kate was not yet 2 and she clearly had you wrapped around her finger watching the two of you in the yard. Had you been given the full Ellis girl experience my four daughters would have broken you for certain, they certainly broke me in all the best possible ways.
To mark the occasion of your tenth year gone Emma created an amazing rock marker with your name on it. It’s red, your favourite colour. We placed this on the rock outcropping in Tofino where we spread some of your ashes in 2010.
It’s under a bush with an amazing view of the ocean and beach. A place that I know if you had ever climbed up to see for yourself you’d have sat there for hours. We had a small tea party in your honour on the rocks and Dani even held a cup up to the rock thinking you might want a drink. She’s so cute and I’m not really sure she totally understands what it is we’re doing. I think she really thinks you’re in that rock. We’ll explain it all to her in a few years.
For me personally, I’ve always loved coming to Tofino ever since the first time you brought JoAnn and me here 24 years ago. You always threatened you’d move here one day so spreading your ashes in this spot only seemed appropriate. Now, whenever I’m here I feel closer to you, more so than visiting a gravestone back in Grimsby. I know that’s where you spent the bulk of your life but it was the west coast you always ran too when you wanted to escape. When you brought us here I was apparently instantly bitten by the same bug that got you years earlier on your first trip. I had the chance to take a couple of long walks on my own this past trip. I like to get up early in the morning because the house is quiet when the girls are still asleep but I took my coffee out for a walk on the beach.
I wasn’t alone however, I knew you were there with me the second I hit the beach. I could hear your voice in my head, your laugh and we enjoyed the crashing surf for an hour or so as we walked from one end of the beach to the other. Not even sure why I’m writing this down since I told you all about the girls on our walks. I can’t imagine what you were thinking when you first saw our current Prime Minister on your beach bare-chested surfing that week but I could certainly hear you muttering and cursing under your breath. That’s the stuff I miss more than anything. Just hearing your voice. You always had an opinion on anything I asked you about and right or wrong, whether I agreed or not. I respected the point of view you took, maybe because it was usually 180 degrees opposite of mine. I miss that in my life, someone to always challenge my point of view. It was never an argument, just a different point of view. Now at least you have one of the best views in all of Canada, one that we can both agree on and I’ll be back real soon with the girls to go for a walk on the beach with you. I am and forever will be your little boy.