It might seem strange but hearing about the upcoming Oscars always triggers thoughts about my dad. Our annual Oscar party was the last time I ever saw him, though we had a short conversation on the phone just days later. He called to see who won the pool, having left before the show was done. I announced that he had, to which he gave a cheer. He was pleased to have bragging rights.
That Oscar party was especially relaxed. We gathered for dinner first, before retiring to the basement to watch the show. I remember folding laundry, something that I would not normally have done during a party, except that we were all family and it felt okay that night. My dad commented on how I used to like watching him do laundry, to which I replied, “I learned the art of folding from you”. He was meticulous about it.
For some reason I have two vivid memories of the Oscar broadcast that night: Tilda Swinton’s speech, which my dad especially liked, and the performance of Falling Slowly, the song that went on to win Best Song. Not long after, my dad and stepmother left, leaving my sister-in-law Amanda and I to check their ballots. We noticed that dad had signed his paper “GB”, the name that Cate called him. We laughed, noting how much he liked his role as grandfather.
A week later my dad was suddenly and shockingly gone. My brother Logan told me the news. I can remember his exact words and the feeling it produced in my body. As I drove to be with everyone, Falling Slowly came on; “Take this sinking boat and point it home, we’ve still got time. Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice, you’ll make it now. Falling slowly, eyes that know me. Falling slowly, sing your melody, I’ll sing it loud.” I desperately wanted there to still be time.
That was in 2008. Since then, I have reflected a lot on life with my dad. His departure felt larger than life, just like he always did. He was an interior designer with an incredible eye, an avid golfer who gave me my first set of clubs, a chef with a flair for everything gourmet, and a perfectionist when it came to wrapping presents, maintaining a vehicle, and yes, laundry. When he found a restaurant he liked, he would be sure to get to know those running it. To this day, if I go to Bar Mercurio on Bloor Street, people from the kitchen will come to talk to Barry Grant’s daughter. Dad was also excellent at building and maintaining friendships with people like his mechanic and butcher. Because of his influence, I have gone to the same hairdresser and mechanic for nearly twenty years, both of whom I count friends.
On March 3rd, my dad will have been gone for fourteen years. That number takes my breath away. It is the same age as my nephew, who was born just months after his GB’s death. I know my dad would have loved getting to know his now four grandchildren. I suspect he would be pleased that they ask questions about GB, and how Cate delights in liking similar things to him. I am grateful that so many of my memories, including the ones described here, remain as fresh as they do. I’m glad to raise my hopeful voice in honour of him. I miss you dad.