Tuesday, 16 January 2018

In praise of grandparents


My Grandpa passed away at the weekend. It was both a shock and entirely expected at the same time, and it hasn't fully sunk in yet. He had been increasingly unwell since August and moved into a care home during the autumn. He would fade then rally, worry us then perk up and make us laugh and so it seemed that, despite his frailty and age, he would just go on and on. I was able to say goodbye to him on Friday morning and he knew I was there, and I will forever be thankful for that moment. His care home faces the sea and, afterwards, I walked along the beach on my own for a little while and gathered my thoughts before heading off to work. He died peacefully, at the age of eighty nine, which is a good innings, as he would have said. 

He was a very large part of my childhood. My sisters and I were blessed with grandparents who lived locally and were very involved in our lives; we'd see them most weekends, stay at their houses, go on holiday with them. We grew up surrounded by the slightly indulgent love that only grandparents can get away with. He was mad about boats and sailing, and local history too. He was well read and well travelled, and his house is absolutely crammed to the rafters with books and paintings, mostly of boats. We have so many good memories of him, and Bella and Angus were very fond of him (largely because he'd let them eat all the chocolate biscuits they wanted before riding up and down in his stair lift) and we talk about him often.

It reminded me how very special the relationship is between grandparent and grandchild, and I see that now between my children and my and John's parents. Do you have a particular memory of a cherished grandparent? I'd love it if you shared it here. Mine would be spending time on my Grandpa's boat, Spray, and eating Lardy Cake, a local type of bread/cake which we always took sailing for some reason. It always felt cosy.


37 comments:

  1. Condolences to you and your family. Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man. Both my grandfathers died when I was very young, but I have wonderful memories of my Nanna and Gran. My Nanna taught me to sew, dress make and knit and Gran taught me to crochet. I spent many happy hours with Nanna after school and during school holidays helping her bake and watching her spinning wool and laughing, always laughing. Sending you hugs.

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  2. My condolences on your loss. You were lucky to have a good relationship with your grandparents, and your children with your parents.
    My maternal grandparents lived far away and my paternal grandmother shared a lot of traits with the wicked witch of the west.

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  3. He sounds such a lovely man and I'm so glad he has been there for so much of your life. Both my grandfather's had died by the time I was 18 months so I have no memories of them. But when my dad died one of my 16yo son's read a very moving tribute about all the things Grandad had taught him, including how to wash a car properly so it doesn't smear, what to wear for a formal dinner, and most importantly of all. . . how to get served quickly at the bar!

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  4. It's so sad when we lose a loved Grandparent. All mine have gone now, but I have the same kind of memories as you, cherished time spent with them, fun holidays and being spoilt. Your Grandpa sounded like a lovely man who had a good life and a loving family.

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  5. My condolences on your loss.My nanny lived with us while I was growing up so I have so many happy memories of good times and lots of laughter. My own children were very close to her. And she taught them good old fashioned values. Sending you love and hugs. Donna x

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  6. It is so special, the love of a grandparent. I had different, but equally special relationships with mine as Granny lived close by and other grandparents far away in beautiful Devon. My memories of Granny are plentiful as she also lived with us later on, but as a child I loved going after school and sitting in front of the fire in their freezing house with no central heating (didn't enjoy the freezing part so much!) Time with grandparents in Devon was less everyday as we didn't see them so often, but loved time together on their boat exploring coves for picnics... Thinking of you all

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  7. I'm so sorry for your loss but what a wonderful thing this bond is!
    I had no real relationship with my paternal grandmother, very formal, but adored my maternal grandparents and only lost Granny a few months ago in my 50s; she was 100! I spent two months with them every summer and they took me on trips and camping. Granny taught me to sew and to be organised but now I know she also taught me what family is and to love... she was a great-great granny four times over by the end! Grandad taught me how to drive and how to tell a story, having been through the war (they both taught zero waste, really); we lost him 18 years ago. Such simple, wonderful people.
    Now I am a granny, in fact I'm just off for my weekly day with the kids when I have written this - I love every minute and enjoy it more than I could with my own daughters 😃😘
    (and my husband hopes to take the kids sailing, too - the two older ones have already been 😎)

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  8. Sorry for your loss Gillian but you have some wonderful memories.

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  9. Like you said, good innings! To die peacefully at almost 90 years of age, surrounded by our loved ones - isn't that how we all would like to go?
    My sister and I had the greatest grandparents, too. Our Mum's parents lived only a few roads from our house, and we were "always" there. We never heard "not now" or "I don't have time" from them (we hardly heard that from our parents, either, but of course they both worked).
    Grandpa was a great storyteller and inventor, and designed and built many toys for us. Grandma would contribute anything that needed sewing; she was a wizard with thread and needle. Also, she would be the one to take us swimming and cycling, while Grandpa would take us to the park and teach us to hold still so that birds and squirrels would come and eat out of our hands.
    Lovely, lovely memories of both of them, and I am glad they were around until I was grown-up.

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  10. Terribly sad to hear this. I have wonderful memories of my paternal grandparents. They had a house with apple trees (that we would swing a rope over and sit on for hours) and a canal at the end of the garden. We would wave at the barges going past and row on the canal when Dad would take us. They would quite formal and ‘posh’ so I suppose it wasn’t a close relationship but I always felt loved.
    My children have a great relationship with their own grandparents and I’m really grateful for that. It definitely plugs gaps that my husband and I can’t fill and enriches their lives no end. They are really blessed.
    I hope that you can grieve peacefully and with happy memories, he sounds like he was a lovely man.
    Claire xx

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  11. So sorry for your loss sweet Gillian. I do totally agree about the soecial relationship, I definitely have so many wonderful memories of my own granparents. One of my favourites is riding on the tractor with my grandad, (he had a farm) hebwould ket me sit on his lap, or in the window seat of the cab and I’d sing him all the brownies songs that I knew. He would always say a solem “amen” after each one! 😂

    S x

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  12. Memories are good at times like this, while you have them people never really leave, you can keep them with you.
    I had to live with my grandparents for a bit when I was little and it was the best time. I particularly remember my granddad was an agent for Vernon's (football pools - remember them?) and we used to sit at the big table helping him to fold all the coupons. We felt terribly big and important :)

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  13. I am sorry for your loss Gillian. I am glad you have some wonderful memories of your grandpa.

    My grandpa and I went travelling when I was 18. We went to Tanzania with an other septagenarian, a Franciscan monk and travelled around by four wheel drive and train. It was an amazing experience. My children only have one one grandparent, which makes me really quite sad. xx

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  14. How beautifully you have written about your grandpa and your memories of him. You have made me think about mine, and what a nice man he was. There would always be cherry cake or apple pie at his house when I went for tea because he knew they were my favourites. I'm so sorry for your loss, you were lucky to have had such a lovely man in your life, and I'm glad you have good memories of him. Sending you a cyber hug, CJ xx

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  15. This really breaks my heart. I had such a great relationship with my two grandads (my grandmas died when I was little) and I am so sad that m y Mum and Dad are not here to bless my boys with their love. The outlaws are not hands on grandparents at all, more swoop in and give money not love people!

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  16. I am sorry for your loss. My Nan is very much alive and recently turned 90 years. She had a big party disco buffet for her 80th which my 2 boys went to. They loved it. I'll always remember her knitting or crocheting. She used to knit for Patons patterns, they'd send her materials which she'd return for photographing deadlines. She also had a knitting machine which made me think of her as gadget gran. We ran a craft stall together once, when I volunteered for St John's Ambulance. We knitted up a storm to fill that table. She inspired me to sit and write a weekly dinner menu, though she wrote hers for the whole day. I've kept to it for 30 yrs later. For over 20 yrs I've bought her the dairy diary each Christmas. Unfortunately my own children's grandparents are more distant in contact but at their Grandpa's funeral at the natural buriel spot via Clanfield (Hants) area, they held the wicker casket (on a trolley) with their 2 cousins and took Grandpa on his final walk through the woods. Sounds weird but it was the nicest funeral we've ever been to. Sending love and peace to you as you reflect. Cathy x

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  17. I am sorry to hear about the death of your grandfather - he sounds like a very interesting and fun man. My paternal grandparents lived only a 5 minute bike ride away when I was a child and I was at there house almost every day until I left for college. As strange as it might have seemed for a teenager, I enjoyed there company and it was a safe reprieve from the turmoils of the rest of the world. My grandpa died rather quickly of Parkinson's Disease when I was 17 - it was the most significant event in my life at that time and I still probably carry some emotional trauma inside. My grandma is still alive at the age of 91 and still in the house they shared since the 1950's, though just over the holiday season she fell and broke her shoulder and now is in a recovery home. It has been a very challenging time for the whole family and has made me think a lot about life, growing older, the loss of independence, and how damn scary it can be to grow old. It is wonderful that your children have the presence of good grandparents in their lives. Take care.

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  18. I'm so sorry, Gillian. My love to all of you.

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  19. So sorry, what a sad loss for you all. My maternal grandmother was a central part of my and my siblings childhood; she lived in a nearby town and we saw her at least twice a week and it was she who turned up in one of her neighbours cars with a dog she'd rescued which became our beloved family pet. Her nickname was Granny G'po (she worked for the Post Office) and I remember she was always sewing and knitting and every year she made dresses for my sisters and I; I so wish I still had one. She was a wonderful, caring and warm woman and even after 35 years we all still miss her.

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  20. I am so sorry for your loss, Gillian. Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful person. I was more or less raised by my maternal grandparents I am sad that they never managed to see my children. He was a kind and gentle man, who walked all over the town with me and made me wooden toys and she a family dragon matriarch who knitted dresses for my dolls. They died 20 years ago and I still miss them, just in more mellow, smile-through-tears way.

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  22. All my grandparents died when I was very young, I remember my paternal grandfather as being very gruff in manner and didn't interact much with his many grandchildren. However, when researching my family tree his young life had been one of great sadness and poverty, beneath that gruff exterior was a heart full of good and kind deeds which I'm slowly discovering - it gives me enormous pride to be part of his family. My late, much missed parents were wonderful grandparents to my sons (now in their 30's), we talk of them often and reminisce of the happy times we spent together. I'm so sorry for your loss - remember the happy times.

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  23. I had mixed emotions reading this Gillian. I am so sad to read of your loss, and yet, having never had grandparents myself, it is wonderful to read you had such a special relationship with your Grandpa which has left you with some beautiful memories to cherish. Much love. X

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  24. So sad to hear of your loss Gillian. I can relate very much to your post about your Grandpa. I have wonderful memories of my grandparents and even my great gran who lived with us too for a while. I am a Grandma myself now - it is all quite new to me from this side of things but there is definitely a special bond with my granddaughter and different to that with your own children.

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  25. Sorry to hear of your grandfather's passing & glad you have so many fond memories. I only had one grandparent on each side, but my maternal Pa, was very tall (me being so short) & I adored him and he spoilt me lots. I used to help him in the garden, when little & he had a budgie which we were allowed to let out to sit on our shoulder. My paternal Grandma, I didn't see so much, as my Mum wasn't good with in-laws, but I do remember her English accent, curly red hair & delicious apple pies. She was very short, so I expect that is where I get that from. I also had a great grandmother till I was 15 & she taught me how to crochet and let me have a few of her old Country Life magazines, which I cherished & possible made me into the Anglophile that I am.(giggle). Huggles to your family & take care.

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  26. Condolences to you and your family. I have very good memories of all my grandparents. But my maternal grandma thought me how to knit, crochet and so on, so that are the best memories.

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  27. A lovely tribute to you grandpa, Gillian. My condolences to you and your family. It's heartwarming to read everyone's favorite grandparent memory. My grandma loved to garden and once she fertilized her lawn in the shape of the letter M so I could see my initial after it turned greener! My other grandma taught me lots of games. And both were great cooks and I still use their recipes. My own mom was an extraordinary grandma to my children. I aspire to be like these three amazing women with my own grandchildren.

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  28. I am so sorry for your loss, Gillian. I was very close to my grandmother and know what a difficult time this is. A big hug.
    Amalia
    xo

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  29. I'm very sorry for your loss Gillian. I never had a grandfather, one was lost before I was born and the other when I was 4 so I don't really remember him. But my Granny...she was my life! I loved her dearly and spent a lot of time with her. It was such a shock when she died. She'd never been in a hospital, never even been sick. She just had a massive heart attack and was gone about 12 years ago. It hurt for a really long time because I didn't get to tell her goodbye or tell her how much she really meant to me. But I think she knew. Of course she knew. Thinking of you during this difficult time. Thanks for sharing. I've also enjoyed reading everyone's comments about their grandparents. Memories...precious...

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  30. So sorry about your Grandpa. I enjoyed reading about your relationship with him. My grandparents had a camper and used to take me camping with them. I love the smell of that camper and percolating coffee in the morning.

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  31. I'm so sorry for your loss! I had a grandmother who played a big role in my childhood and youth. She died almost five years ago at the age of 96 and I still miss her (like she was before dementia set in the last years of her life).
    Gardening, potted plants, knitting, trips to buy me casseroles when I moved away from home, her joy and renewed "youth" when I had my first child and she became a great grandmother. She spoiled us - and she spoiled my kids who luckily got to know her all three of them.

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  32. I am so sorry for your loss, it is hard to lose someone who meant so much to you. To die peacefully, surrounded by love, what more could you ever ask for.

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  33. So sorry to hear about your Grandad, but a good life well lived is the best eulogy. My Nan lived with us, and she was a real character. From Werthers original to pocket money, she looked after us while Mum and Dad worked. And we looked after her as she aged. My love goes to you now x

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  34. So sorry for your loss.
    I was blessed with 6 grandparents, two being step, and each one of them was truly wonderful. They are all dead now and are missed and thought of often.
    We are the lucky ones. I talk to people who had/have no relationship with grandparents and I feel so bad for them.

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  35. It sounds so very simple, but as a child i would go to my nanas bungalow each friday after school for bacon on toast and she loved my company as much i did hers. Its nice to hold on the small memories like that when theyre gone xxx

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