God bless, duck – grandad
My grandad was magical.
He could charm anyone, anywhere and calm anyone, anywhere.
In my childhood years, he’d amaze us by chatting to strangers in town, in cafes, in banks, and telling them their ages, or their children’s names, or even that they had a surprise announcement waiting when they got home – only for them to stop him in town weeks later to say “yes, their partner was waiting, bags packed with a surprise holiday when they got home. ”
In my teen years, when I was filled with angst, sitting in his living room, breathing his pipe smoke and smelling the faint whiff of whisky and orange juice was about the only time I felt truly calm. It was impossible to feel stressed in his presence.
In my early adult years, I got to go to the pub with him, finally, and witness his ability to entertain everyone there with stories, jokes and cheeky banter. He was a proper North London boy with amazing tales to tell.
When I earned money of my own, I gave him a pocket watch. He kept it in pride of place on the shelf by his chair. When I visited, he reminded me that it was important to him.
When I got pregnant, his eyes were full of worry and love. As my belly swelled, he looked at me protectively and reassuringly. I couldn’t wait to see him holding my first child in his arms.
In the summer of 2007, 4 months before JD arrived, my grandad fell, broke his hip and was taken to hospital, where he acquired an infection. I made it back home in time to say goodbye before he passed away.
My grandad will never get to meet my children. They’ll never get to know how incredible he was. But somehow – and I’m not usually the type to believe these things – somehow it feels like he’s still around. In JD’s shy smile, in Little Miss J’s laugh, I see him, and he feels near.
The pocket watch sits on my shelf now. I’ll never stop missing him.