I've been a bit quiet around here and on social media lately and thats because my Grandad died on the 1st of this month - and today is his funeral.
Some of you may remember, way back when, that my Grandad was a huge fan of this blog, I even wrote him a birthday blog post on his 80th birthday and so many of you lovely people left him a comment which he loved reading.
So today, I want to share something that I've written for the funeral here - it seems the least I can do for him, after he did so much for me and for my sister. So here goes...
I must confess that I started writing this before my Grandad died… which perhaps sounds morbid, but I always knew that if I was going to say anything about him to anyone, it was going to be a celebration of his life, a celebration of our relationship and of course, a celebration of his life with all of his family – who love him so much.
Although he lived a long life, I’m before you as someone who only knew my Grandad for the last 30 years of his life – as someone who only knew him in one role. You might think that would give me a limited perspective on him – and it’s definitely a hugely biased one as I mentioned – but not limited at all. I’ve heard it said that my sister, cousins and I got our time with him in the prime of his life but that would only be defining prime by age and I would say that from the beginning to the very end, my Grandad was always in his prime – because he was always true to himself.
My Grandad was who he was – if you knew him, you automatically liked him – there was no pretense or putting on airs. He knew where he came from and he got on with what he needed to do, for himself and more often, for others. I often wonder if other people his age were the same when they were younger – or if he truly was just one of a kind to be so dedicated and sure - and to make it look so effortless and easy. To someone of a younger generation, his life is almost hard to believe – he worked in the same job his whole life, he spent over 50 years living in one house, he didn’t want for much and he appreciated everything he had… in some ways, he was unremarkable in his steadiness of life, yet that in itself, to me is what makes him so remarkable.
It’s easy to ignore a quieter presence in the corner, and often that was my Grandad when we were all together – not that he was that quiet, but he sat, he watched, he laughed and he let the louder people be loud. Yet it’s often those presences, the consistently there, the dedicated people who are happy to sit back and let others enjoy the attention that make the biggest impact and that presence, his presence, will be so deeply missed.
My memories of my Grandad are very much like him – nothing overly grand or dramatic, yet each one genuine. Each one is honest and true, from digging up potatoes in the back garden to building boats and sandcastles in the sand. We were always laughing at his silly jokes and having the biggest hugs, right until the end.
My parents always say that I must have got my creativity from my Grandad- and its true – he taught me to draw, he taught me to paint. But he also taught me so much more - he taught me how to look at something and really see it, he taught me the importance of working hard on something and of being consistent, even when its difficult.
After my Dad, my Grandad was the second man I gave a piece of my heart to and he helped nurture that love and trust in so many ways. He was always himself – and he let me be myself too, he never judged me or wanted anything from me other than to see me and spend time with me – and there’s something so freeing in knowing that kind of genuine relationship with someone. I’m sure everyone here felt that from him too, that pureness of spirit he had.
In his death, my Grandad has taken that piece of my heart with him, but it’s not a loss, because he always had it and I’ve always had a piece of him with me – just like I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. He’s going to be with me every time I draw, every time I paint, every time my Dad does exactly the same chuckle that sounds exactly like Grandad's. He’ll be there when we redecorate our house and when I start growing my own tomatoes and sneaking them to my niece or nephew. He’s there every time I see my family and now he’ll be with me every time someone asks me if I’m alright and I reply ‘No, I’m half left’.
I love you Grandad, thank you so, so much for everything.