On Sunday April 1st, 2018, my grandfather, my Popper, sadly passed away. He lived a very long, full life, of 94 years, but towards the end the fight he always had to keep living finally ended. He is the father of my dad, Walter Horsley, and my uncle, Peter Horsley. He was a man I always looked up to and deeply admired for the courage and pride he always carried and always displayed. He was a great man, one who fought for Canada and the rest of the world throughout the Second World War. In 1944 he landed on Juno Beach at D-Day and helped the Canadian army win won of the most important battles of that tragic World War. Though the war was a tragedy in so many ways, to my family, the Horsley family, it was also a very special blessing in disguise we all cannot deny. In that war, while stationed in Belgium, he met his future wife, a Belgian war Bride named Monique. He swept her off her feet and brought her home, to Canada, after the war ended, soon marrying her and starting the family that I am so lucky to say eventually gave birth to my own existence. He was a man of honour, one who always loved to share his war stories and his triumphs. In Canada, he found peace in his life and became a simple man, a family man, who took care of my father, uncle, and Nana, by always keeping a warm roof over their heads, clothes on their back, and incredible food in their bellies. He drove truck until he retired, but even through his simple way of life, one I think that was inspired by the harsh reality of his youth while fighting the Nazis, he took every step carefully and with an unbelievable amount of honour. To my dad and uncle, he was the best father one could ask for. To me he was my grandfather, my Popper, who was nothing shy of a hero in my eyes. And to my Nana, Monique, he was a husband she loved dearly and relied on for more than 73 years. His humour was hilarious, for even through his admirable demeanour, he was a goof ball, always willing to crack a joke for the sole purpose of always wanting to make his friends, family, neighbours, and even a simple stranger smile ear to ear. Simply put, he was a happy man, whose thirst for life kept him alive for almost a century, and whose positive outlook was nothing shy of contagious. He wanted to make those around him happy. He wanted to make those around him laugh. He wanted to make those around him proud, and he always left a mark wherever he went. More than anything he wanted to be a good person, and he was. He taught me, and the people around him, lessons of life so often. He always had a story, and in each story he always had a message. His wisdom was endless. His life was beautiful. And though at the end, he faded, his strength, courage, and humour never left him; and to me those parts of him are still alive. A great man, does not do justice in defining who my Popper, Robert Horsley was. He was a hero, more human than anyone I know. I looked up to him, and always will, and deep down when I think of him, I’ll always smile and remember just how amazing of a human being my Popper always was.
Lest we forget, my grandfather, Robert Horsley.