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My grandfather will be remembered as a hardworking and modest man. He had simple needs. He was forthright and honest, a person with humble beginnings who placed a great value on education and friendship.
I will remember him as the only grandparent I ever knew. I will remember him as a man who was content with what life had given him. He never asked for much and in the years I knew him, he lived a simple life.
My grandfather's lifetime could be divided into three different parts.
He was born in An Kai Lai, Kaiping, Guangdong, China on May 29, 1909.
The direction of this early period started with his steamship voyage at the age of 14 from China to Victoria, B.C., Canada, in 1923. He was held in a holding cell until his 6th uncle came and paid the Head Tax.
His early life was marked with many obstacles and hardships. He worked as a kitchen aide and cook in various small towns in Saskatchewan, where he learned to speak and write English. He developed an independence that I could still see during the time that I knew him. At age 19, he returned to China in 1928 to get married to Der She, returning to Canada alone in 1930.
He lived through the Great Depression of the 1930's in Saskatchewan, becoming prematurely grey in his 20's. He didn't talk much of this period of his life. From the bits and pieces he shared with family, it was a very difficult time for him. However, he did learn the game of curling, a favorite Saskatchewan sport. His love of curling never left him. Up to his last days, it was the only event he thoroughly enjoyed to watch on TV. He even timed his meals around the curling schedules. It gave him great pride whenever Canada won the world titles.
From 1943 to 1960, he purchased and operated the Liberty Café in Elrose, Saskatchewan. Despite the long days in the restaurant business, he developed many close and valued friendships with the Canadian townspeople and farmers within the community. People called him "Lee" and loved his home-baked pies, sugar doughnuts, and fresh bread. When the surrounding farmers came into town for their supplies, it was a special treat to stop into the Liberty Café for coffee and a piece of pie. He took pride in his abilities and in the respect he had earned in the community.
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It is so difficult for my generation to understand the hardships endured by those who walked before us. Seldom do we recognize the sacrifices made for us. Hearing stories of my grandfather's life, I cannot imagine what it must have been like. Such a life is not lived without courage, determination, and perseverance. It's true that the battles and times we face now are different than those of the past, but we can always draw from the knowledge that we too can find inner strength during hard times just as he did.
So as we commemorate his life, we celebrate the legacy he has left us. His legacy is in his family and his friends. His legacy is the people that he has helped, and in the lives that he has touched. He has left us a history. A history of pride in culture and of pride in family. And now this history is in our hands to carry on where he left off.
He will be greatly missed and always remembered.