Two years ago yesterday my Grandad passed away. It was the 5th May 2016. Ascension Day. It's hard to even put into words how much he meant to me but below I thought I would try...
My Grandad was a giant of a man, when I was little it seemed literally so. He towered over me and was as strong as an ox. Even as he got older he was still working, still building, still as strong a presence as ever.
He loved his children and grandchildren so much and was extraordinarily proud; I can never forget how happy he was telling people he was a double-digit grandad.
The thing about people we love is that they are never perfect, but we love them despite and sometimes because of their flaws.
My Grandad could often be stubborn, honest to the point of bluntness and he occasionally offended some people with his honesty. However he was also a Prince among men. A true gentleman, brave, kind and courageous. Whenever we would walk somewhere together, he would always insist on walking on my right-hand side, nearest to the road as he insisted a man should always protect a woman. As you can already probably tell he was not exactly a third wave feminist but he always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and was in many ways my biggest supporter. He also gave me some of my most valuable life lessons.
Growing up in a socio-economically deprived area and attending a third rate school I never had a slew of opportunities come my way but my Grandad taught me the importance of speech, grammar, how important it is to present yourself and dress in a way that belies your background- how first impressions count.
That it was important to dress well, be neat, tidy and make the most of yourself.
That it was vital to educate yourself, to read great literature and debate, argue and listen.
Our family Sunday lunches were always conducted with some kind of debate with regards to either religion or politics. Arminianism vs Calvinism for instance. I miss debating with my Grandad so much, we often disagreed and would discuss subjects with vehemence but there was never any offence taken on either side. It was so much fun! He was not someone who would ever have agreed with the idea of ‘safe spaces’ in fact it sometimes seemed that he secretly enjoyed offending people and the more outraged they were the better.
I didn’t attend the kind of educational institution where helpful and informative careers advice was abounding; there was no networking or connections to be made, we were never encouraged to think about attending top universities or given information about the best graduate schemes. My Grandad was the one who constantly encouraged me and told me that I could be anything I wanted to be. That I was just as good as anyone and better than most. He had not time for excuses, if you wanted to do something, write
a book, learn to play the piano etc. then you just had to get on and do it.This encouragement and attitude might just have saved me.
These lessons and his abounding wisdom along with the love and care of many other people in my life, including my amazing Dad made me the person I am today. I consider myself so blessed to have had such a man as my Grandfather. And I very much look forward to meeting him on the far side of the River one day.