The guiding star of our family
We are an extremely close family. Whenever there is a new member, we raise the child together. When a new boyfriend is introduced, we want him to feel as though he was always part of this pack. Friends are family, and we are now a net of connections across the globe. Our bond, loyalty and honesty makes me fondly compare us to the Kardashians, except, of course, we're more working class and just a touch less extravagant.
The grandparents of our family helped to raise us, we lived with them as children, and continued to spend weekly afternoons and overnight stays there at our second home. That house is where we learnt to swim, play cards, and bake jam tarts. I had been worried about this day for years. Even as a child I would sit in the back of the car after celebrating Christmas at the grandparents house, and think 'please, don't take them from us yet'.
This premature preparation never wore away the rough edges of anxiety as my sister and I grew older. As Grand-dad forgot our history more and more, it seemed like a thick black cloud hung over our collective heads as the inevitable grew closer, suffocating thoughts and upsetting visits. He was the topic of the majority of conversations.
In my 30 years of being in my family, I have never known anyone to meet my Grandad and dislike him. He was charismatic, told the best stories, his humour was insulting in a charming way. He was stubborn, hard working, smart, dedicated and generous. He was the guiding light of our family's values, and he is the reason why we all are the way we are today.
My Grandad taught me that hard work always pays off, to always do the job right the first time, he taught me how to drive a tractor, how to grow tomatoes, and how to love unconditionally.
When I think of my Grandad I think about:
- the smell of sawdust and a barber jacket.
- Bitter and ale.
- His garden.
- Bright coloured socks.
- Snoring himself awake.
- The dolls house he built us.
- Sherbert lemons.
- War documentaries.
- His unique mannerisms and quirks.
- The way he would always greet us at the door.
- His love for children.
After spending years worrying about how we would survive without him, I feel surprisingly relieved. We were, as a family, his biggest project and his greatest achievement. He wanted to stay in the house he had built, with all of us popping in and out, while he overlooked his spectacular garden and thought about where he'd come from to where he is now. I could not have asked for anything more than for him to go peacefully to sleep in the armchair he spent all his time in.
Grandad - I will never throw away a piece of perfectly good wood, I will tell your stories over and over again, and I'll see you one day soon for a beer. For now I'm glad your spirit is in the garden, and I look forward to the next time you say "hello my darling".