If he were alive today, Joesph B. Zimmer Sr. would be 100 years old.
Time with him was spent playing cards games, watching him knit scarves and mitts for everyone from his grandkids to children in Africa. He loved to laugh and visit with neighbours. Many hours were spent around my grandparents table. Family dinners, Christmas and Easter parties, midday coffees that were the usual break from long days of farming.
Being the youngest cousin, I was just learning the value of family when he passed away in 2003 at the age of 88. I regret I didn’t learn the value sooner.
I regret the fact that I discovered an interest in my family tree long after he was gone.
I regret not asking for stories of the crossing from Hungary when he was 11 years old.
I regret not taking up the opportunity to ask him about life in Saskatchewan during the great depression, his parents trying to carve out an existence in a new country. What was it life to start from scratch, everything from digging out trees and rocks for crops to grow to building a house for your family. What was it like to have to travel hours to see your neighbours and to be months from your homeland and the majority of your family?
I regret not using those hours with him to ask him about my grandmother; their wedding in 1941, how he felt when she gave birth to his five children and saying goodbye to her when she died of breast cancer in the late 60s.
I regret not learning about every little heartache, blessing, lesson and anecdote that he ever had.
My dad also passed away in 2009. My regret with him is that I underestimated the time I would get with him. For my grandfather, I regret not having that interest in his stories while he was still here to share them.