Well it finally happened. After all our years as and up and down relationship it's come to an end. My grandfather died this month after a short illness. We thought it was his usual problems but it was in fact cancer.
I never knew where I stood with him; he wasn't one for showing much affection and had a rather Victorian outlook on our lives. There were days of fun as a child, I can remember him making us mermaid princess' out of large flat seaweed we found when playing on the beach. I can remember his attempts to prove that everyone has the ability paint and draw if only they tried hard enough (really I can't paint, mine always end up looking like painting by numbers) and my efforts sit on the fire mantel, initially because my littleun liked them but now with new view to them as in clearing the house I have found a new man. One I didn't know but rather wish I had.
He didn't keep much in the way of possessions, given his age when he died you would expect a lot more than there was. But some of the things he did keep were the postcards we sent, pictures and photographs and when you look back you see a possible new meaning to the expressions on the faces in them. And it made me think. Did he really not love us or was it more a case of he had absolutely no idea how to show that he did.
I remember lecture after lecture on how we were all meant to behave in life, how some of us had been dissapointments to him and on how hot air doesn't rise, cold air sinks! Oh and prisms. With sadness I remember far more of these than of the cheerful fun.
Re-reading a lot of the emails that he sent, the ones that reading at the time felt like he was being cantankerous , I read a different plea, one that said "come visit". And now I wonder if I had whether we would have enjoyed each others company that bit better. Don't get me wrong I did visit, and often, but it felt like a chore not like fun. Strange then that when we did talk it was interesting to hear what he had to say. If you wanted to know how to maintain and strip any form of armoury or if you wanted to know about Tobruk he could tell you, he was after all in the thick of it.
I told Littleun that he had completed his Circle and I expected confusion and tantrums. Littleun is probably the only one in this family who loved him unconditionally, he can remember happy things, playing with the birds that granddad used to keep, watching tom and jerry, both laughing hard. But he didn't do that. Litteun understood and it is the matter of fact way that he has asked questions about granddad that has helped me.
Will I miss him? Yes, but not in the way that one would normally miss a grandparent who has died and certainly not with regret, that is after all pointless. But for not knowing him properly. If there is one thing that has come out of all of this it's that I will make sure that I never do that with any grandchildren I might be lucky enough to have.
My grandfather: Man of photos, magic lanterns, poems and lectures. Who might just possibly, be right about hot air. Returned to the earth, 2011.