An Historical Downpour is a featurette of Rain. I am trying to aggretage all my writings into the one often incoherent package that is A Rain of Frogs.
Originally posted as “Stupid Canadian Boy” at 9:05AM on October 5, 2004.
Many years ago, my grandfather, a round old man with a thick East European accent used to waddle around the house muttering. Often he was muttering in his native tongue, but sometimes it was in English. It didn’t matter either way, really, since it was unintelligible in whatever language he chose to speak. Curiously, it usually followed a session of him yelling at the television while watching the news.
“You! Boy!” he would yell at me, “Tell me why if there is God, children die in bus like that, but he no stop Germans in old country!”
It was never a question, always a demand. And you have to understand, I was maybe 10. I was seriously in awe of this man, who is still the single most internally powerful being I have ever known.
“I don’t know Dedek,” I would stammer, hoping he wasn’t about to throw the apple in his hand at me. Instead, he waved his hand in dismissal.
“Stupid Canadian Boy.”
That was me. And all my male cousins actually. We think it was actually a term of endearment in his mind.
This was a man who had defected with a family of 12 children from behind the Iron Curtain in 1954, travelled across the ocean to America, where he was refused entry to the country because he had been a “member of the communist party” in Yugoslavia. And he had been. It was the only way he was allowed to have his job there, which was operating the town’s communal tractor. He signed the papers (my grandmother had to show him how to write his name, he was illiterate) and in turn got his card, his tractor, and enough money to feed and clothe his family.
So they came to Canada, and in 1956, settled in Toronto. For that I’ll thank Mr. McCarthy.
Years later, he could be seen sitting in his enclosed balcony on the 17th floor of a condominium in the West End, a telescope swinging back and forth slowly as he looked for potholes in the road. When he spotted one, he would dial up city hall and yell at them till they sent someone out to fix it. He never owned a car or got his drivers license.
He was a man who believed in justice. Believed deeply. Not Justice, with a capital J, but justice, the small, everyday kind. The kind that makes someone turn a wallet in without skimming the cash out of it. The kind that makes young men give their Subway seats up to the elderly.
He died a long time ago, but I think about him a lot. Though I miss him deeply, I am glad he didn’t have to see the world as it is now. He’d have been screaming at the television, apple in hand, asking my children how there can be a God with all this stuff happening. I am sure he would have been on the phone to the president asking him what the hell he thought he was doing.
But I’m just a Stupid Canadian boy. I don’t let the world keep me up at night any more. I don’t worry about whether there’s a God or not, or why he/she would let the world be the way it is today. I just try to worry about the small justice. Helping the elderly, giving to charity when I can, and teaching my children to be accountable for their actions, and to view the world with their eyes wide open.
Maybe I’m not such a Stupid Canadian Boy after all.