Two days ago, my grandfather died. He was a great man; he was one of the greatest men I have ever known.
In August of last year, when he and my grandmother celebrated their 70th anniversary, I contributed the following to a family memoir. I still stand by this; it is all I can think of to say about him at the moment. I hope it is enough.
In the year 2020, I turned 46. It’s not enough time to know you, my grandparents. I can name the many gifts you gave me over those years: forests and rivers to explore, woodcrafting skills, a swimming pool to share, a long hike in the forest to learn the different names for trees and ferns, a hike that ended with Grandad and I walking waist-deep in the river with our pants thrown over our shoulders, an extra bed when I needed it while I worked my first job at the university, maple syrup harvested from the same forest, and the chance to help tap the trees with you and Jude to make the sweetness flow. There was the gift of the example of your natures: welcoming, curious, industrious, firm when necessary, and fun-loving, which freed us to explore and to discover. I could name these gifts and their influence on me, and to thank you for them. But to speak less of myself and more of you, then I should also speak of the generosity in which you gave those gifts: the gentle hands, the warm voices, the unconditional love.
We Myers kids and Fletcher kids must have been loud and messy and horrible when we were children, visiting your forest and tracking our mud across your carpets. I once held open the back door of the house and called for Buddy the dog to run in, then run out, then run in, then run out, until Buddy himself realised I was being horrible to him and he stopped listening to me. It is also entirely possible that Jude and I destroyed rather a lot of the forts that your Boy Scouts built in your forest, just because they were built by the scouts and not by us. Yet you weathered this childishness in us with more patience and grace than we deserved.
As an adult I learned that you often had a rough life: the sort of roughness that would turn lesser people into cynicism and misanthropy. Yet here you are, in the year 2020, having survived it— having more than survived it, for you come to this year still possessing your good minds and hearts, your impish sense of humour, a circle of family and friends, and hundreds if not thousands of people who owe their prosperity and happiness and the best memories of their lives to you. You are like marathon runners for kindness, endurance athletes for integrity and compassion. There ought to be statues of you in every city, stories and songs of your life taught in schools, so that all shall be reminded that people of unconditional goodness still exist in this world, and that Clarence and Dorothy Comfort, my grandparents, were the best of them.
On behalf of myself and my partner Andrea, we wish for you many more years of peace and happiness and love, and we hope to visit you soon.
As it happened, my grandparents got less than one year together after I wrote that for them.
But he left the most wonderful legacy. And indeed, such a legacy is what he wanted.
“Heaven is here on Earth. When we die, our reputation lives on. If it is good, then that is our Heaven or if it is bad then that is our hell… Life after death is the effect that we leave to those that follow.” — from his memoirs.
His official obituary may be found here.