Remember Grandad

12 Jun 2019

My Grandad passed away recently, someone who was a large part of my childhood. As I’ve got older and things in life get in the way I’d not seen him (or any other of my family) nearly as often as I should have, but he’ll always be a special person to me, and someone who had a large impact on my life. It’s not just me: he and Nanna had five daughters, so I have a lot of cousins, and we all share the similar fond memories of our Grandad.

Of the countless memories I have of him, there’s two that for some reason stick out right now, both I guess from when I was around 12 or thereabouts.

The first I think captures his fun side. One evening, whilst everyone else had their supper cup of tea in the living room, Grandad and I went into the kitchen to have a biscuit with our tea – he was always a fan of gingernuts – and I realised after nattering with him for a while that we’d ate the entire packet between us! A slightly mischievous act, but I’ve no idea why it sticks with me. Perhaps because it’s one of the few that’s just me and him rather than as a larger family unit. But it also shows his of child-like fun he had, and this seemed to cement part of that for some reason. To this day I still have a (helpfully) similar sense of childish fun, which I attribute in a large part to both to him and my gran on the other side of the family.

The other memory that came to mind is of him being amazed at how brattish I was being about not getting to play an arcade game I really wanted to play (as ever, it was something my “cooler” friends were playing, and so I felt the need to play it to just be on par, but didn’t have the money to do so). He wasn’t being nasty about his observation, just bemused I think, hardly surprising given what his generation would have had to deal with at a similar age. But despite clearly seeing me for the brat I was a lot of the time as a child, he still treated me as someone worthy of attention and playing with. I hope that I can be as inclusive and as generous as he was to others, and I guess this is a textbook example of unconditional love. Dear me, I must have been a major pain in the neck as a child (sorry Mum & Dad), but Grandad still gave me attention like the rest of his grandkids.

His funeral was this Monday gone, and at the get together of family and friends afterwards it was lovely to see everyone share their happy memories. Grandad disliked dark clothing, so we all tried to wear something bright – thankfully I’m well stocked for bright floral shirts. But the lasting memory will be watching the set of grandkids playing the games he’d play with us all – we brought in the marbles and the dominos and the other toys he’d spent hours playing with us, and we had some more fun in his memory. To me that’s a near-perfect way to remember his impact on us.

Photo of my Grandad with my and my sister, on a beach, possibly mid-80s

Grandad passing was a reminder to me that our time is finite, something that it’s easy to forget in the day-to-day. That blue guitar I recently completed which everyone has said nice things about, had been stuck in limbo waiting for me to finish it as I procrastinated due to fear of things not being perfect. But Grandad’s passing spurred me to just get on with it – stop worrying about the maybes, and just do your best and give it a go. So that guitar is there thanks to his memory, and I’ll always think of him now when I think of it.

I was sharing my memories above with my Mum after the funeral, and she remembers me at a similar age complaining for the n-th time that I was bored (I really was a terrible child), and Grandad turning around and saying “life is boring – you have to make it not boring”. Words that didn’t take at the time, but speak to me now. This is definitely one of the reasons I’m very fortunate to have Laura in my life: she helps life not be boring, both by being there and by encouraging me to do things I might not otherwise try.

And that saying is also the broader point of this note: time is limited, and whilst I don’t think you can treat every moment as precious (that’d be as tiring as it is impractical), it’s worth being reminded that you can’t put things off indefinitely. Whatever it is that is important to you, ensure you make time for it, as it’s only you that can make it happen: life is boring, you have to make it nor boring.

I’ll try my best Grandad.