Our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Eugene Ross Roache, was a character, to say the least. Adjectives such as unique, eccentric, and one-in-thirty-million, barely scratch the surface of who he was. His mind’s eye was always spinning. There were never enough hours in a day to accomplish all he wanted to do .
After seventy years as a fisherman, Dad called it quits and moved on to more creative ventures. He wrote a series of books about growing up in poverty in West Head in the thirties and forties. He increased the size of his garden ten fold. A natural salesman, he peddled all manner of fish, vegetables, and berries. He experimented with baking cookies, muffins, pies and bread. The bread was unlike any bread you have ever eaten. It weighed a ton and would stay in your stomach for hours. (He was especially fond of a vintage copy of Kate Aitken’s Cookbook.) He built model boats, dories, lighthouses, crates and lobster traps — all for a hefty price. He did not offer a family discount.
I asked Dad to paint a dozen pictures of the West Head of his childhood for a family keepsake calendar. I offered him $200 a painting. When I paid him the $2400, he said, “Meldie, dear, I hate to take your money,” as he grabbed it and stuffed it in his pocket. To me, their value cannot be measured in dollars and cents. They grace my walls in West Head, NS and Bobcaygeon, ON.
Dad became West Head’s version of Red Green. He tried to invent shortcuts for almost everything. He spent more time searching for a lazier way to do something, such as mowing the grass, than it would have taken to do the task ten times over. Perhaps that is part of the genius of an inventor.
In the minds of his grandchildren, he was a “cool dude.” Nobody’s Grandfather measured up to theirs. He bore no resemblance to the soft-spoken, sweet grandfathers of storybooks. No, Gramp had found the fountain of excitement. He saw nothing wrong with an eight-year-old running a wood splitter, a ten-year-old operating a chainsaw, a five-year-old driving his ATV or an eleven-year-old using a shotgun. After all, they had to learn sometime. Why not now? His grandchildren: Jason and Darcy Roache; Cindy, Jonathan, and Tim Roache; Jeremy and Allison Clark; and Maria Roache could write a dilly of a book about Gramp.
Our adored Dad, Gramp and Great-gramp passed away just after midnight on April 1, 2013. We should not have been surprised that he died on April Fools’ day. At his funeral, five days later, his eldest granddaughter, Cindy Roache, captured the true essence of Gramp in her eulogy written from the perspective of a grandchild. It was entitled “The Rules of Life According to Gramp.”
I would like to share it with you and all the fathers, grandfathers and for all those who stand in their place, in 2016.
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Copyright 2016 by Melda Roache Clark. All Rights Reserved. The use of any part of this document reproduced, or transmitted in any other form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, scanning, recording or otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system, without prior consent of Melda Roache Clark or her heirs, is an infringement of the copyright law.