Norm Proulx’s granddaughter Ivy decided his name should be Pop-Pop when she was two-and-a-half years old. Her Mom Meghann jokes that he would’ve been just as happy if Ivy called him Norm; they are kindred spirits, after all, and from the moment her personality began to show itself the family could tell there was a strong connection between Pop-Pop and this quiet, shy, yet silly little girl, no matter how she addressed him.
As Meghann talks about the binding thread between her father and her children, which the family chose to highlight in this year’s Schlegel Villages Grandest Grandparent contest to mark Grandparent’s Day in early September, her son Wes motors around the village library, half crawling half shuffling.
He’s a busy boy, her second child, so much unlike his older sister in that respect.
“They’re so totally different,” Meghann says of her children. “Ivy is much more like my dad; they’re very reserved and quiet and silly at the same time.” She looks to her father. “You guys are kindred spirits, I think,” and he smiles and nods in agreement.
Families can be like that, Norm agrees, with lots of similarities and differences, but beautiful connections much the same.
Wes, still not able to walk, seems to be the definition of impulse. At one point as Pop-Pop is talking, Wes crawls under his grandfather’s feet hanging down from his wheelchair, trying, it would seem, to untie his shoelaces, almost as if he’s going to tie one foot to the other in a classic prankster move. Norm simply smiles.
Meghann, Wes and Norm are being treated to a catered lunch in the library at Riverside Glen where Norm has lived for just a few months. It’s their prize for their Grandest Grandparent entry randomly being chosen among several shared through social media via Schlegel Villages.
Meghann does most of the talking, describing the love she and her brother Alex knew growing up and the fond memories they both have of Guelph. Her maternal grandparents had a rolling farm on the edge of town, she says, and as kids they would summer there and spend practically every holiday traipsing the property. She recalls as a girl visiting Riverside Park, directly across the street from the village her father now calls home, and she would ride the miniature train and antique carousel there that are iconic in so many people’s memories.
Now as a family they make new memories at the park, like the late summer day Norm decided to leave his wheelchair at home and walk into the park alongside Alex as Meghann and the children went ahead. Norm insisted on riding the carousel that day with Ivy, Meghann says, and she can’t help but remark how her memories and those created on days like that between her father and children seem to overlap.
“I never thought that one day I’d be coming back here and doing the same things with my kids as I did with my grandparents,” she says, looking to her father, “and sharing the same moments that you shared with us.”
Norm’s quiet smile shines through as once again Wes tries to untie his Pop-Pop’s shoes.
Perhaps these cycles of memory explain why the family wanted to highlight the love between Norm, Ivy and Wes, for it illustrates the love of the wider family as it has passed down generationally.
That love is truly genuine and in her children, Meghann sees much of her father and the influence he’s had throughout life. That love makes her smile often, and it’s why in her mind her father is the ‘Grandest Grandparent’ of all.