Tuesday, September 27, 2005


When Melissa and Michael were toddlers, they couldn't say "Grandpa", they could only manage "Gumpa", and the name stuck.

My father is closing in on 70 -- but before you say anything like "No way, José!", let me tell you first that he is not above a little vanity-induced hair colouring... shhhhhh....

"C'mon, Dad, it's not like we don't notice!"

It's times like this I'm glad they don't air those 'Grecian Formula' commercials anymore, because he'd buy into it (again) and not only would his hair be an unnatural shade of brown, it would be greasy, too.

But Gumpa's been helping me here in Pennyslvania since the minute he arrived, and for that I am eternally grateful. I've dragged the poor man all over Wyoming Valley. He:
  • assisted in changing the car headlight bulbs in the parking lot of Pep Boys, trying to stay dry in a light drizzle
  • spent far too long at the hardware store trying to find the right switch and outlet plates for the house
  • patiently pushed the shopping cart around the garden centre while I inspected tropical plants
  • was marched off to browse footwear while I made a last-ditch effort to find lingerie that fit under my wedding dress (oh how I hate shopping for lingerie, it was my final kick at the can after trips to all the other department stores in the area, so far be it from me to subject my father to the torture that is 'intimate apparel')
  • rummaged through racks of little girls' clothing to help me find a sweater for Melissa
  • and the list goes on...
Tonight Gumpa finally met Mona, David's mom, and the four of us shot the breeze at a local restaurant which was later descended upon by a coachful of Canadians. Ever the friendly Pharmacare card-carrying Canadian, my dad turned around and introduced himself to those within earshot, proudly informing them that he hailed from BC. I don't know when it started, but sometime in his advancing years, my father took it upon himself to be The Canadian Ambassador to the World. If you think I'm exaggerating, ask him a question about his Canadian Experience and you'll swear the anthem is ringing in your ears while he's speaking, he is just that patriotic.

What visit to Mom's would be complete without discussion of online Scrabble? Gumpa marvelled at how tech-savvy she was (everything is relative, people), and took a run at her WebTV (MSN/TV) keyboard. He was very excited about the fact that, unlike a computer, it's impossible to "break" WebTV, and to that end I'll have another look at whether WebTV is available in Canada....

OK, I just checked, and it's not. He's going to be disappointed. Well, maybe I'll have to introduce him to a Mac, which is far less "breakable" and possibly easier to learn than a PC. (See end of this post.) Then again, I haven't been able to convince him to use an ATM. First things first.