To those who knew him,

I adored growing up around my Great Grandpa, Lester Bouvee. To all the grandkids, he was funny, kind, and caring: what all grandfather’s should have looked like. Whenever he’d greet you, he’d always use the same line, “are you good for nothing, or no good at all?” To which, I’d laugh and answer the former. He’d greet guests with a smile and a hug, maybe cracking a joke as you walked through the door. When us kids would leave, we’d always be eyeing that candy jar where those mints would sit, knowing full well that we’d have to say please if we wanted to grab one before we left. We always did, and he always gave permission after. 

I know he was flawed, but as a kid, I only ever saw the good natured side of my grandfather. If we were being too loud, he’d point his finger to his lips, “shh, the baby’s sleeping.” If we were being too rowdy, he’d say something about the man upstairs being upset with our behaviour. There was no baby, and no man upstairs, but I feared that fictional character, and also wondered why an old man would have a baby. I’d try to steer clear of the stairway after hearing grandpa talk about the man who resided up there, but the blackboard and chalk were right next to that door, and I loved drawing too much. 

I remember one particular visit, when I was studying the pictures on the living room walls. I had landed on a photo of an elderly couple I hadn’t recognized… Maybe someone from my grandparents church. I asked my grandpa about them, pointing to the picture and waiting for his response. He ended up spinning this story about how the couple used to live in the house, while my grandparents rented out the woodshed. When I asked him why they weren’t still living in the shed, grandpa told me it was because he asked if he could “please live in the house instead of the shed,” to which the couple agreed, packed their bags, and left. He used to make up stories like this alot, ones that I would completely believe.

My dad, or grandma, I can’t remember who, once told me about a phone call they’d overheard my great grandfather answer. It was a woman asking him to “please have my son head home because dinner is almost ready.” A normal person would have pointed out the wrong number, shook off an apology for the inconvenience, and hung up. But not Lester Bouvee… no, he instead told the lady that he’d send the boy back home, even yelling out his name to solidify the point. The woman thanked him before hanging up, probably later serving her son cold dinner and getting mad at him for not heading home right away. Poor kid probably didn’t even see it coming. 

Lester Bouvee’s funeral was the first one I recall attending, and the only one I really cried at.  The last time we saw him, he was waving from the end of the hall, sitting in a wheelchair and saying thanks for our visit. He was frail and weak, but still that same grandpa I’d known him to be. He made it to his 90s, a long life under his belt before heading home. He survived the influenza outbreak that overtook his parents and sister. He survived the depression alongside my great grandmother and their family, already the owner of a farm to live on with acres of crop and cattle. He survived for nearly a century, old age taking him in the end. He was a fighter, and a stubborn one at that. He was my great grandfather, flaws and all.

With remembrance for that man,

Melissa

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