Remembering My Grandpa
By Alex Ross
My grandpa, Roy Ito, passed away in 1999 when I was just ten. So I knew him as a kid knew a grandpa. Some of my memories include swimming in my grandparents’ backyard pool—when grandpa went swimming he had a distinctively splashy kick. Also, Sunday night dinners at my grandparents’ place. After dinner, my cousins and I knew to avoid the front living room in their house, as my grandpa would surely be snoring loudly in his worn blue recliner. And of course when my grandpa gave me a short lecture on never putting soy sauce on my rice (how impractical!). But he was, of course much more than that to us. He instilled a love of baseball and reading, and put a strong emphasis on education.
However, it wasn’t until after his passing that I realized what an influence he really had on my life. It is thanks to my grandpa that I have been able to find a connection with my Japanese heritage. For myself, my sister and our seven (soon to be eight) cousins, both our grandparents—and in particular my grandpa because of his work—remain our only connection with the Japanese community. I certainly would never have visited the archives here if it wasn’t for him.
The work that has been done here has been wonderful, sorting through and organizing all his research and notes. When my grandma donated it to the archives, we did not understand the significance. It is only due to the people here that it has really become understandable to us. And even more so now with the launch of this website; it has become more accessible through new eyes, a new interpretation. Hopefully this new work will provide a comprehensive interpretation of his work to a new generation.
I now know my grandpa had an impact on other people’s lives. I didn’t know him well, but he has made a contribution to remembering our past and connecting to Japanese Canadian culture. My grandpa will always be important to me, as my grandpa. I will never put soy sauce on my rice again. But now I can see how he has been important to a community. Thank you to everyone who has helped make that possible.