You know those nagging regrets that won’t leave you alone? Anything from wanting to change something about the past to eating out and wishing you’d had dessert – or hadn’t. Relatable as these regrets are (!!!), what I was really thinking of was not blogging about Grannie before she died. Which brings me onto the topic of this post which I’ve been planning for months. Surprise, Grandad, this one’s for you!
My earliest memory of my grandfather was of how tickly his moustache felt whenever he kissed me. Not being a fan of tickly things on my bare skin, I would, rather formally for a child, politely ask “On the head, Grandad.” To this day, this is our main catchprase whenever Grandad is around. Messages from him to me often end in “xx (on the head)” – for an example, just look through the comments on my previous posts.
Another neat little phrase that hasn’t grown old started out as a compliment I gave him when I was little. Mum thinks it’s ironic that I summarised him as a “kind old man,” when he was barely older than my stepdad is now. Details, details. I clearly saw him as a good-hearted and fun grandfather, and he was. When he looked after my sister and I (pre-school and early primary school age, respectively) when Mum went to hospital, I have vague memories of him playing a joke on my sister that involved a very realistic, shiny plastic banana and a bunch of real ones. Interestingly, she remembers this better than he does. When our mum and stepdad were on their honeymoon, we went for a photo shoot in our bridesmaid dresses. Why did we look so happy? Grandad was standing behind the photographer pulling faces.
Years went by, and Grannie and Grandad continued to be a strong influence in our lives. Then at the start of 2013, Grannie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Suddenly, contact became so much more important. Mum would be ringing regularly, or driving from Loughborough to Gloucestershire, while I had the surreal task of emailing Grannie about which pieces to play at her funeral. Throughout this, Grandad waited on Grannie hand and foot, unendingly patient and never asking for help.
This wasn’t the happiest time in any of our lives, but ironically I don’t think our family had ever been so united. And it was through this that we got to know Grandad even better. Since Grannie died, he has survived well with support from many sources, and has lived life to the full, be it moving into a new flat or doing marathon walks across Spain.
And now today is his birthday, and I have just completed his surprise birthday present. Happy birthday Grandad! xx (on the head).