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Story ID:3503
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Sambro Nova Scotia Canada
Person:My Grand Dad
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The first memory of my Grandfather was when I
began to call him “Sim.” I was three or four
years old. I stood on his wharf one day and heard
his friend ask, “How was the fishing today, Sim?”

“Sim?” I asked. “I thought your name was ‘Grandpa’?”

He looked at me. “Well, that is my name, but I’m Grandpa

to you.” I wasn’t convinced. From that day on he was “Sim.”

Sim was a big man who loved to laugh and tease. I was

gullible. He teased me constantly. I was at his house one day.

Grandpa and Grandmum were eating watermelon and gave me some.

I said, “This is good. Too bad we can’t grow them here.”

“Sure you can.” Sim said. “Just take the seeds and put

them in the ground.”

“No you can’t!” I replied. “It’s too cold here.”

“Yes you can! When I was a boy we grew them all the time.

They were the biggest watermelons you ever saw. They’re easy

to grow.”

This was big news. I rushed home with a hand-full of the

seeds, banged through the door, and yelled, “Mum! Mum! I’m going

to grow watermelons!”

“You can’t grow watermelon around here! It’s too cold!”

“I can too!”

“Who told you that?”

“Sim did. He said he grew them when he was little. They were

the biggest melons he ever saw.”

Mum visited grandpa and asked him about the melons. She

said he laughed so hard tears ran down his wrinkled cheeks.

Sim and Grandmum had ten children. Two died at birth. They

lived in a three- bedroom house: one for them, one for the girls,

and one for the boys. Sim had a big heart but hid it well. He

never hugged me, but I knew he loved me. He used to take me places.

The sky was clear and brilliant blue. A weak breeze raised

small waves. They reflected the rising sun and blinded me like

diamonds under a strong light. A crow cawed from the top of a

tree near the shore. Sim leaned into the next stroke. His strong

arms pulled the oars. The small waves rattled against the bow,

as our boat plowed forward.

Sim pulled the boat onto the rocky shore on the other side

of the lake. We grabbed our fishing gear and lunch and hiked

through the woods. He took me to a small lake hidden in the


We settled in a clearing at the edge of the lake. “This

is a great lake. Only a few people know about it.” Sim said.

“Really?” I asked. I was proud to be included into such

an elite group.

Sim baited our hooks. “We used to catch trout more than

a foot long. You could sit here on the shore and see them

swimming below your feet.”


“There were so many fish, they used to jump right out of

the water and land beside you. All you had to do was grab

them up and take them home.”

“Sim, are you fibbing me?” I asked.

“I never fib, Mike. I swear it’s true.” He chuckled. “I

saw it happen with my own eyes.” I knew better, but I couldn’t

help wonder what it was like to see that many fish.

No fish were caught that day, but I wasn’t disappointed.

I caught a memory. It is proudly mounted in my mind – a warm

sun, Sim leaning against a tree chewing a straw, teasing me

with tales of the great fish he caught.

Everyone knew and liked Sim. He loved to talk and laugh.

In his late years, he sat on his porch and chatted with

anyone who passed by. They talked about the decline of

the fishing industry or just good ol’ gossip. He worked

hard all his life. I saw him when he was in his 70’s. He carried a

10-foot log several miles. He needed it for his wharf. He

never gave up.

When he was a young man, Sim developed a blood clot

in his leg. He recovered, but every few years an ulcer

formed on that part of his leg. It took several months

to heal. He was 76 when it struck again. I worked
nights, had my days free, and volunteered to take

him to the hospital for his twice-a-week treatments.

During those trips, that I learned a lot of family

history. Every section of road had a story. The time he

came along with his rifle and met several men standing

by the road, trying to shoot a deer a great distance away.

He took his rifle, aimed, and got the deer. He was known

for his shooting skills. I’ve seen his old rifle. The

stock and grip were mostly worn away and there were no

sights on the barrel. I doubt I could shoot a bottle at

ten feet with it.

He told of the time he and several friends hunted

moose illegally and were caught by the game warden.

They gave the warden a hind quarter of the moose and

walked away free men.

It was a different time and a different way of life.

The climate in Nova Scotia is too cold to grow most

vegetables. These men fished and hunted to survive,

selling just enough to buy the produce they couldn’t get

themselves. They had family values and helped those in

need. Even though they had little, they were happy. I

learned all this on our trips to and from the hospital.

Sim was in his early 90’s when his memory began to

fail. One day they found him lost and confused. He

wandered in the street, trying to find his way home. It

was too dangerous for him to be on his own. He was

admitted to a seniors home.

My wife, two children and I visited him often. During

each visit, I could see the change in this once strong,

proud man. “You have two kids?” he would ask. “I thought

you only had one.” He didn’t remember Justin being born.

A few visits later, “You have two kids? I didn’t know

you had kids.”

Later still, “You’re married now? Is that your wife?”

He pointed to Georgia. It broke my heart.

Sim was 94 when the first stroke hit him. He could

no longer get around, but when nurses tried to help, he

fought them like the strong and proud man he once was.

At the age of 94, it took two strong orderlies to control

him. Not long after, another stroke took his life. A great

man was gone.

I was in my 30’s. My aunt handed me a picture of

Sim in his early years. It was like looking in a mirror.

Sim gave me his genes, his sense of humor, and his love to

talk. Sim’s not gone. He’s sitting here writing this story.

Michael T. Smith