For Pepere

Saturday the 19th, while I was at work, I got news that my grandfather had passed away. He was 92 years of age. He would have been turning 93 in March. Here is a clip from his obituary:

We regret to announce the death of Victor Laflamme on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at Extendicare Kapuskasing at the age of 92. In his younger years he enjoyed hunting, fishing and travelling. He retired from Spruce Falls after 35 years of service as a Millwright. He was a member of the Golden Age Club, La Forge and he enjoyed going for coffee with his friends at McDonalds. 

He lived a long life and was blessed to have the opportunity to meet four of his great grand-children. At his funeral, my cousin Angele and I decided to speak about our (the grandchildren's) favourite memories of my grandfather. I wanted to put a copy of what we said here, so that I'll always be able to go and read it.  It was really touching to see all the different things he meant to his grandkids.

"Pepere was an amazing grandfather. After we received the news of his passing I called my brother to talk about it and we started reminiscing.  During the next few days I also had a chance to talk to a few of my cousins about what Pepere meant to all of us and our favorite memories with Pepere.

One thing that almost everyone mentioned was spending time with him at McDonalds.  Pepere’s visits to McDonalds are legendary in our family, whether it was with his friends or his grandkids. Both Ian and Erik said that Pepere would take them there for Big Macs. Erik remembers that when he was done eating, Pepere would say, “Only one Big Mac!?! You’re a growing boy! You need to eat more than that!!” He was only satisfied when we were happy and full. 

Chicken McNuggets will always have a special place in my heart because I remember Pepere taking me to McDonalds and sharing chicken nuggets dipped in honey with me. 
Even when my family moved to Timmins, we knew that any time Pepere and Memere came for a visit Pepere would take us all to Wendy’s for lunch.

Mitch and Angele both remember going to the corner store with Pepere. He would buy a lottery ticket, let them pick the numbers and then on the back of the ticket write 50/50 and make a deal that if they won, they would split the winnings 50/50.

When Eastview Public School was still open some of us grandkids would go eat lunch at Pepere and Memere’s house. Memere would make pancakes and we’d sit with Pepere in the living room and eat. He’d sit right there with us and watch cartoons.

Mitch and Micah both mentioned fishing with Pepere at Beaver Falls and Camp 15.  Micah remembers going out with Pepere when he was about 12. They had anchored below the falls and it wasn’t long before Micah hooked a big one. After a long fight with the fish, Micah got it to the boat and Pepere scooped it up with the net. It was an 11 lb walleye. Micah was, of course, very proud to have hooked such a monster, but Pepere was just as proud of him. Pepere took the fish to the corner store in Val-Rita that had a “Biggest Fish” contest every month and they ended up being one of the winners of the biggest fish. To this day, Micah remembers that as the biggest walleye he’s ever caught.

Mitch’s fishing memory with Pepere, although located in the same place, is a little different.  They were fishing near the falls doing fairly well catching pickerel when all of a sudden the fish stopped biting. Not long after, Pepere caught a small Pike, maybe 1 1/2 lbs. He reeled it in, a little annoyed, took the hook out of it’s mouth and then threw it back in. A few minutes later, Pepere reeled in an other pike, about the same size. As he was pulling the hook out of its’ mouth and cursing the “Maudit Brochet” he noticed an other minnow in the fish’s mouth and realized it was the same pike as last time. He looked around to make sure no one was around them and then said “Mitch, j’vas te montrer comment on s’occupe d’un maudit brochet ici!” He rummaged through his tackle box and found a set of pliers, grabbed the pike’s mouth in the pliers, banged it a few times on the side of the boat, then grabbed the body with one hand twisted mouth up with the pliers and threw it on the shore. Mitch says he doesn’t remember ever laughing that hard in his life.

I’ll never forget the way Pepere laughed when I told him about the first time I shot my .303 rifle. My husband’s family hunts quite a bit so not long after I met him, I got my hunting license so that I could go moose hunting. When my brother found out, he offered to give me his old .303 rifle. My parents, my husband and I all decided to go in the bush to sight in our guns. I was feeling cocky and cool with my new rifle and didn’t brace it properly against my shoulder. When I shot it, it knocked me flat on my butt and sent my sunglasses flying off my head. The worst part was that my dad was filming it when it happened. I remember Pepere laughing so hard when we showed him the video.

These are just a few examples of Pepere’s mischievous sense of humor. You could always count on him to say something funny. Ian remembers him saying, “If God wanted you to smoke, you’d have a chimney coming out of your ass!!” 

Pepere also had a love-hate relationship with cats. He loved to tell the story about when a stray cat had started sneaking into their porch and making a nuisance of itself.  One afternoon, wanting to teach it a lesson, he’d trapped it under a big metal pot and banged on the pot a few times with a spoon to scare the cat. He said when he lifted that pot up, the cat took off at top speed and never came back. He would laugh so hard while telling that story that he could hardly catch his breath.

Pepere always made time for his grandkids.  Whether it was taking Ian to the airport to watch the planes take off and land, fishing and hunting with Micah and Mitch, or checking with Erik to see if he had fuel in the tank of his first bike, and taking him to the gas station to fill it for him. “Your tank can’t be almost empty” he’d say. “Moisture will build up in the tank and that’s not good!” He loved looking after us.

He always made time for us individually, apart from all the other family stuff and took great pride in all his grandkids and great-grandkids.After Jake was born he would brag about him and how proud of him he was. Several years later when Mitch and I both had kids he was always so happy when we would stop in for visit. The last time I visited him in the hospital, I remember him falling asleep a few times during our visit, but each time he would wake up, look around, see my son Mac standing there and he would light right up and give him a pat on the head, or a high five. He had a collage of pictures that Memere had put up in his room at the hospital and when he had visitors, he would proudly announce that those were his grandkids and great grandkids.

Any time spent with Pepere left us in no doubt that we were incredibly loved by him. He showed an interest in each of our unique interests and loved hearing about what was going on in our lives.  His passing will leave a big hole in our hearts, but we are all better people for having known him.

Thanks for the memories, Pepere. You may be gone, but you’ll never be forgotten."

Pepere meeting Isaac for the first time

(left to right: Me, Mac, Pepere, Bryson, Mitch


janelle said…
oh dan. i love this post. your Pepere sounds like so much fun! i love the cat-in-the-pot story :D.
thanks for sharing him here :). i wish i could have met him!
Mama Repi said…
Thank you for sharing this.....great memories!

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