If the truth be told, I did not actually know my grandfather, the previous Richard Phillips. I met him twice when I was a child, once at his home and once in his final days. He was ill with prostate cancer and was home from the hospital the first time. I do not know why I was kept out of the house until he was ready to see me, but I had to be allowed in. He was a man with presence, you might say, for though his face was carved with the lines of a hard life, there was still a vital energy there. He was more familiar with my cousin, Jean, the oldest granddaughter and called me that. He was swiftly corrected by my grandmother; “no, this is Londa, Sheila’s girl”. Though, my brother and I were given French names after our father’s ancestry, they had maintained the British way and called us Andy instead of Andre and Londa instead of Yolanda. My mother, as I stated before, was the youngest of their seven children.
Grandpa sat there in his chair in the familiar cardigan and trousers, the smell of Amphora tobacco in the air. He asked if I liked his pipe, of course I said yes.He asked if I could read the writing on the pouch. No.Then he asked me to go get some tobacco for him out of the cupboard which sent my grandmother into a tizzy do not ask why, perhaps something to do with his health. And that really is all I remember.
The next time, he was in hospital, the three of us, my sister, brother and I were shuttled in. Andre was put up on his bed where he was quietly told to “look after the women” among other things. My mother, 6 months pregnant with my youngest brother was so stricken she held back in the hallway. Shortly after that, she ended up in the hospital losing one of the twins she was carrying. The rest of the scene was harrowing to say the least. That was the last I saw of him. I think that my mom had a special relationship with him because she was the youngest and he had more time for her. This is a lovely picture of them.
Richard “Dick” Phillips died June 25, 1964. He is buried alongside George and Jane in the Magnet Cemetery in Manitoba. Rest in peace, Grandpa.
I will talk more about his life later on.