Family Reunions

Tonight my family got together with my aunt from Kelowna and my grandma from Winnipeg. They both came out for my graduation, but tonight was the first night we really got to sit around and talk. We all got talking about my Papa who passed away from lung cancer in 2007. Dad pulled out this book, which I had completely forgotten about.

This was a book put together in honour of Canadian firefighters. It’s a compilation of stories and photos, some funny and some sad. My Papa is prominently featured in what I consider the most important part of the book, the firehall recipe section!

This was his semi-famous recipe for “French Ukrainian” Pea Soup. I have no idea why it’s called French Ukrainian, because there is literally not a drop of French in our blood. I’m sure it’s some kind of family joke with some old-school racist humour in it, but I don’t know what it is.

Also, that soup is AMAZING. I’ve never made it myself but I remember how unreal it was. I’ll post the recipe when I get around to making it. It might be winter before I make it, so if you’re interested in the recipe just let me know.

My Papa was a pretty amazing cook. He made everything in huge soup pots. Every time we drove out to visit, he would have a massive pot of borscht waiting for us with fresh rye bread and garlic sausage. He taught me to cut my cinnamon buns in half, butter the cut sides and fry them until they were crispy.

He also taught me that if you ate enough tomatoes with lemon juice for breakfast, you could eat whatever the hell you wanted for the rest of the day.

He taught me to drive in a cherry red pickup truck the summer before he died. I didn’t know him all that well, even though I was seventeen when he died.

That is probably why I was so surprised by what I saw taped to the back of the book:

That’s Papa in the red hat. I can’t tell you how many times he stood in front of me like that, telling me to smarten my ass up. I can imagine that those kids were scared shitless, just like I was. No one gave a stern talking to quite like Papa.

My Papa and Bama (that’s my grandma) were planning on coming to my high school graduation in 2007, but Papa wasn’t well enough to fly from Winnipeg to Vancouver. This week, my Bama came out to be here for me even though Papa is gone.

I didn’t really think about all of people who couldn’t be here to see me graduate until I was walking up the steps onto the stage. On graduation day I was no less than pissed off. I was tired of having my picture taken, tired of everyone asking me questions, tired of everything. I just wanted everyone to leave me alone to process the whole day, and I didn’t get that chance until I was hearing my name called.

And so at that moment I didn’t think about myself. I didn’t think about the thousands of dollars I had personally paid for this education. I didn’t think about the countless papers and exams I wrote to get to that place. I thought about my Grandpa Fisher who died when I was four, and my Baba who died when I was eight, and my Papa who died when I was seventeen. I thought about my Grandma Fisher in Ohio who was watching the live stream of the ceremony because she couldn’t be there. I thought about my aunts and uncles who called and sent cards. I thought about my family who was there in the audience, my parents and sisters and Colin’s family who came out to see me, and I had to stuff down the tears a little bit.

So even though the whole graduation shindig is about me and the very expensive piece of paper I was handed yesterday, it’s really not about me at all. It’s about all the people who love me and support me and who made this whole graduation shindig possible.

So thanks you, all of you nice people who love me and support me. I’m sure they have the internet in heaven (because if they don’t, I AIN’T GOING), so thank you to all of those people who loved me but aren’t here anymore. You’re all pretty awesome.

Now go phone your grandparents and tell them you love them. It’s important.

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