Yesterday was my granddads birthday. He would have been 93. Alas, he passed five years ago. I miss him.
I was the first baby whose nappy he changed, we had a special bond 🙂
When I was little, he would rock me on his knee and sing to me. I used to sleep in the big bed between granddad and grandma and he would scratch my back to put me to sleep. This was pretty spec cause he had long fingernails on the little fingers of his hands. Could never figure out why that was. Until the day I caught him picking out his ear wax with them. Totes gross!
He would also sing to me and I still remember the special song he made up just for me. I now sing it to my babies.
When he thought I had gone to sleep, granddad
would let out a silent violent one under the covers and have a little quiet chuckle to himself. Of course, as soon as I turned over and disturbed the covers it would attack us all! Grandma would then pull me close to her so that I could smell her skin instead until the vileness went away.
He loved going for long walks and he would always find things and bring them back to me. Wild chestnuts, plastic pocket combs, once even a teddy bear! Sometimes he would take me with him and we would look for the wild chestnuts together. And he would always buy me a balloon; it was such a treat back then! It would be big and round and have rice in it, so that when you played with it, it would make a great noise. Eventually it always managed to disappear or get a subtle hole in it so the air would gradually go out (thanks, grandma).
I always used to go on holidays with granddad and grandma. He loved taking lots of photos. But he would find a beautiful background first and then you just had to kinda fit in around that. And there are so many photos….and those ones with the heads cut off cause you couldn’t tell until the film was developed as to how the photo would turn out.
And he collected post cards. I always made sure wherever I went, even if it was for a toilet stop on a road trip, I would get him a postcard.
Granddad helped me learn how to read before I started school. He was a hypochondriac and always had a new medicine. So, he had this wooden chest where he kept his medicines and every time he got a new one, he would get out his multicolored pens and a ruler. Then he would spend considerable time reading the paper bit you get inside the box with the pills. He would underline the relevant information in the appropriate color. So, while he would concentrate on doing his, I bombarded him with endless questions about how you pronounce this and that word etc. He never grew impatient with me; he always answered all of my questions.
We watched televised operas together. And basketball games.
Granddad always took an afternoon nap. Before he did, he would take his trousers off and hang them off the back of the chair in the dining room. The pocket in those pants was where he kept all his cash. As I grew older I realised that every time the pants went over the chair, then the change would go out of the pocket. Hello, pocket money!
When summoned (three times a day), granddad would take his place at the kitchen table for his meal. The man never cooked in his life, grandma had him spoilt rotten but she liked it that way (and so did he, I suspect). When he got too sick to sit at the table, grandma would bring him his meals to bed and in the end, she would also feed him.
Oh, and he had no teeth. At night he would take out his dentures and give me a kiss, lol! Trauma galore! He also used to love squeezing my check with his fingers but he never realised how hard he did it and that it actually hurt a little bit. I guess I had squeezable fat little cheeks.
At the age of 13 when we left the country I had no concept that I would not see him again for a very long time. I gave him a little doll to keep with him to remind him of me.
The next time I went to see him, I was 20. He was mostly bed ridden. I lay down in bed next to him and made him scratch my back.
The time after that I came to visit with my daughter. I was 26. He scratched Madison’s back. He still had the doll I gave him when I was 13. It never left his side. If he had to get out of bed and go to the hospital, he would put it in his shirt pocket and take it with him.
When we left he knew it would be the last time. In his poorly state, he climbed all the way down three flights of stairs to see us off. His face was unrecognisable from the tears and the pain he was feeling at having to say good bye.
Third time I went back home I was 33. Granddads side of the bed was empty. The doll I gave him when I was 13 was still on his bedside table.
Grandma likes to tell the story of how when granddad was largely incoherent and immobile, the nurse came to check up on him and asked him why he liked to lay on his right side. He replied that that way, whenever he opened his eyes, he could look at his sweetheart (grandma).
He died, lying on his right side, sleeping next to his sweetheart.
I took the doll back with me.
I love you, granddad.
10th October 1920 – 8th October 2008