Johnny Bower Lost A Fan

This short essay on my Mom’s Dad, my Grandpa, is kind of mixed up but hopefully it will make some sense by the end.

Grandpa served in the military in two wars, the Navy in World War 2 and the Army in Korea. He always had stories to tell about his life in or out of the military. I only remember one story of his being really sad. In World War 2 he served on the H.M.C.S. Sackville (the last Corvette in the Canadian Navy). The story was of a friend of his serving on the same boat as him during World War 2. His friend was responsible for firing bombs called “Hedge Hogs” into the water and whenever they exploded it meant two things. The first was that a German U-Boat was hit and that the U-Boat was now sinking to the bottom of the ocean. The second was that my Grandpa’s friend would start vomiting overboard into the water because he thought that that was the worst way to die, sitting at the bottom of the ocean waiting for the oxygen to run out. Overall Grandpa rarely talked about the wars and I didn’t press him either. My Mom told me that once Grandpa punched a Captain in the nose and lost his stripes over it. That sounded about right because Grandpa could be pretty stubborn. Sometime after the 2 wars Grandpa met Toronto Maple Leafs great, Johnny Bower. Grandpa was a big Leafs fan so to meet a star Maple Leafs player was a highlight for him.

Grandpa had a supportive wife and they were like two peas in a pod. Grandpa and Grandma had two lovely daughters and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. In his later years Grandpa made these quirky birdhouses for the family. He quit smoking when I was born and years later he quit drinking. In August 2008 doctors found a cancerous tumor in Grandpa’s throat. Then on September 14, 2008. Grandma passed away and Grandpa’s stories stopped (at least it seemed that way to me). These last two events seemed to take the wind right out of Grandpa’s sails. I saw him in the hospital a few times getting radiation treatment and such but the stories had ended and most of the time he slept.

On Friday April 10, 2009 Grandpa suffered a stroke and four days later, on the evening of April 14, 2009, Fred Arthur Barnard passed away, just two weeks shy of his 88th birthday.

It is times like these that I sometimes ignore my atheist side and right now I would like to think that maybe, just maybe somewhere, Grandma is having a drink and listening to Grandpa tell his stories. And although they miss us and we miss them Grandma and Grandpa are having a great old time.