At my job I speak with people from all over British Columbia. In the course of events I’ll inevitably run into someone who I knew years before. The other day was like that, sort of.
I was speaking to a man on the phone. I took down his message and couldn’t help asking what town he was from as he spoke in a strong Vancouver Island accent. “You are definitely sound like a born and bred Islander!” I said.
When I asked about his background he mentioned that he had spent time in a place called Kelsey Bay, which is a small logging town on northern Vancouver Island. My grandfather, Harold Smith, worked as a logger from the age of 17 until his death at the age of 43 in 1970. At the end of his life he worked as a logging foreman up in Kelsey Bay so I thought I’d ask this gentleman if he knew my grandfather.
“Oh yes! He was a strong leader, a hard worker who expected the same from his employees,” he said. “Of course, I was an 18 or 19 year old back then.”
Unfortunately, I was not alive to meet my grandfather, but I have “memories of memories” of him. Throughout my life people who knew him have shared that with me.He was born and raised in Nanaimo. He grew up in a small house with his parents, four brothers, one sister and no bathroom. He used to ride his bike along the ridge of a dam and when he was 16 he fought a fire up on Mount Benson. He died at the young age of 43. Before he died, however, he watched my mother graduate from high school, bought her a blue car and sent her off to university.
It was really nice to hear someone speak with genuine admiration and affection for my grandfather. It really lifted my spirits and reminds me that nothing is a coincidence.
My grandfather at the age of four.