A turning point story by: Abigail Laing
© Submitted photo
Abigail Laing shares a hug with her grandfather Clarence prior to his death in November 2011.
Everyone knows how much Pop loved his music. Every time he would come to my house he would bring his accordion. At the family reunion a few years ago in 2010 he played his accordion and when you added in Coleen and Guy playing their guitars it sounded amazing. When I think of Pop I try to think of the times he was alive and happy, doing what he loved playing music. Sometimes I wonder how something so horrible could happen to him.
It all started in October 2011. My mom received a phone call from my Nan. I was 10 at the time and my birthday was in a little over a month. But I still had no idea what was going on. A few days later my mom left and went to the west coast. Before she left she had told me that Pop was sick. The next thing I remember was my mom and pop coming in from the west coast on an ambulance to the hospital here in St. Johns. It was finally November. I was so happy, it was almost my birthday but then things took the turn for the worst. It turns out that my pop had a brain tumor. I was devastated. Mom said that Pop would get a surgery to try to remove the tumor.
After the surgery I went to see him. When I went to see him it was around a week until my birthday. I was so excited to see him. Mom says that she’ll never forget what happened next. As mom turned the corner with Pop in a wheelchair he almost jumped out of the wheelchair when he saw me and my sister. He remembered us. I was so happy to see him.
I had so many questions to ask him but I knew that I had to start with the simple ones. “Pop” I said. “Do you remember my name?” He had to think for a minute then he slowly said “Abigail.” Next it was my sister’s turn to ask Pop a question. She asked the same question I did. Again he had to think for a minute then he slowly said “Danielle.” I smiled and said “can we eat now?” way too eager to eat the Timbits we had brought to eat with Pop. We let him have first pick. The hours passed and by the time we had finished at the hospital it was 9 p.m. I was so happy to see my pop. I missed him so much. The next time went to see him it was my birthday. But I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see him alive.
Since it was my birthday I had cake so we brought him some cake to eat. He liked it. We talked for a while and then we had to go. Two days later Pop got moved to the Miller Centre hospital where the brain tumor began to take over his brain.
Pop eventually went in to a coma. I went to see him at the hospital with my sister and my dad. Mom was already there. She said something. The last part I will never forget. “So what will happen to Pop?” I asked. “He will die,” Mom said. Then I started crying, I didn’t want him to die. I loved him way too much.
Then it happened. At 12:43 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2011. My pop stopped moving completely. When I say that I mean the clock stopped for him. He was gone forever and there was no way he was coming back to me. After Pop had left us I knew I had to face reality. He is gone. And yes there are days where I want to hear his music and his voice when he would ask me “how is my girl?” and tell me a story. But most of all I want to see him smile and dance and hug me and kiss me good night like he use to do when I was a kid. I want to hear him whistle his tunes to know he was close. Yes I still want to cry when we talk about him. He was a big part of my life, but we were “his girls.” Nan says that Pop would always want to come in and see us. He would say “it’s time to go see the girls.” Nan would reply “now Clarence we need to watch the weather since your eyes are bad. As soon as we can get a day with no rain or fog we can go.”
Love leaves a memory
From this sad experience I have learned not to take my family for granted because one day they will no longer be here.
I have also learned that love leaves a memory no one can steal. If you really love someone they will never truly be gone because they are always a part of you with their love.
Since then I have taken singing to a whole new level. I now participate in the Kiwanis International Music Festival. If my pop was here right now I would like for him to hear me sing and see his reaction to how well I have gotten over the course of a few years. But if he could hear me right now I would say “I love you and I miss you Pop.”
Here I am two years later at the age of 13 and halfway through junior high. About a month ago marked the two-year date that you have left us, so on Christmas when I’m with family I know that you will be there in memory.
And don’t worry I got you a present I’m just not going to tell you ...
Christmas is a time to be happy and cherish the ones around you. But part of me will be longing to hear your voice and see you.
The picture that we keep of you on the top of the stairs will be right next to me when I open my presents on Christmas morning. Having that picture of you there will remind all of us Mom, Dad, Nan, me and Danielle that you may not be there physically be there, but you are in sprit. As they say pictures are worth a thousand words.