My grandfather Kenneth Melford Fetterly. I daydream of him often. All I have are pictures and stories from my mother as he passed away suddenly two years before I was born. “Fet” as he was affectionately known to all had a wicked sense of humour. The stories and visions of him came back to me at the Isle of Ancestors. They always make me smile (and feel rather proud).
My mother, her brother, and parents all lived in China for many years because “Fet” was the head of Foreign and Domestic Freight for the Canadian Pacific Steamships Co.. As was their station in life at the time they had amas and cooks and houseboys to help them manage things around the house. Fet had his routine of a pipe, special lighter, and ashtray that lived on a small table in the “throne room” for the times when he attended to his “daily constitutional” as it was politely referred to in those days. Much to my grandfathers frustration the houseboy would constantly “clean up – and out” the things off of the table after Fet’s visit. No matter how hard he tried to explain to the houseboy that he preferred his things be left alone, his beloved pipe and such were always taken away. Now, some of you may know that the Chinese (at least back in my grandfathers day) were highly superstitious. Apparently it was quite the sight to see one morning the houseboy come running out of the bathroom white-faced, and screaming in Chinese to the other house staff that the bathroom was haunted. There was much ado and fuss as they all raced to the bathroom to see. It seems my grandfather had finally had enough and he had glued the pipe, matches and ashtray to the table!
My other favorite story my mother told me which is rather bittersweet is of the years they lived here on the North American continent and “Fet” had a great travelling companion for a long time. He and the gentleman took the train into the city to work everyday and it was their habit to pick up a newspaper at the train station and have a little friendly competition to see who could do the daily crossword puzzle the fastest. Day after day, month after month my grandfather consistently beat the other gentleman much to his anger and frustration. One day my grandfather died suddenly from a heart attack when settling a strike in England and his travelling companion came to my mothers home to pass on his condolences. He found my mother on the front steps and sat with her for a few quiet moments. At last my mother said to him “I suppose it would be alright if I told you this story now that daddy is gone”. She continued, “Every morning daddy would get the newspaper delivered early here at the house and do the crossword before he left for the train station”. “That is why he always won”. The gentleman’s face grew red and he exclaimed “that cheater!” “all these months he’s beaten me” and then grandfathers friend broke into tears along with my mother. A bittersweet memory of a wonderful man with a cheeky, mischievious, sense of humor. I so wish I had a chance to know him. I know one day we will meet.