Priya and Anya’s relationship with my Dad (who passed away two years ago) was always a joy to behold. They both miss him like crazy.
From and early age Priya and her Grandad (PomPom) had what can only be described as a mutual respect! They both “got” each other. Their occasional glances into each others eyes often meant no words would be exchanged!
Anya (who is the genetic double of her grandad) just loved him. When he was dying, she would often just sit at the end of his bed. In the final days she would sit with him for hours. Occasionally she would encourage him to have a sip of water or maybe try to eat something. More usually she was just there. Quietly. Watching and waiting.
Whenever we go back to Cardiff to visit Grandma, we will always make a trip to the church yard and take flowers to his grave. Anya is out of the car first and she runs to where he is buried to get there first! We are not sure what she says, although Priya tells me she is convinced that he can hear her. It makes me wonder.
Not sure why but yesterday I was thinking about my own Grandfathers. I was lucky that up until my late teens I had both of them still alive:
You know the expression “a man of few words”. This was my Bampy Jim. He spent the majority of his life as an underpaid factory worker for Currans in Cardiff.
As a young boy I remember sitting in his living room every saturday. Nana used to dote on him! He would eat cottage pie and swede, watch the racing on the box, and then disappear down to his second home. The Splotlands pub at the top of his road.
He was evangelical about Brains beer. So evangelical, when he travelled the four miles up to North Cardiff to our house for Christmas Day, he would bring beer from the Splotlands to drink – “Brains in this part of Cardiff” he informed us every year, “is just not the same”
He never really retired. Well into his 80’s he was the cellarman in
In no way could you describe Bampy Jim as family focussed. My last memory of him is arriving back from University one weekend and immediately going to pay him in visit in the pub. It was 1985. He was sat on “his stool”. He was drinking out of “his” glass. You could tell it was his glass because it he’d stuck an elastoplast with “Jim” written on it. This was so he would be safe from “catching Aids”.
Rather than open a discussion, I sat there happy to accept his offer of a pint of SA. “It’s pouring well today Bob”
My Father’s Dad was the polar opposite of Bampy Jim. A larger than life character who was every boys idea of what a Grandfather should be. A fireman by profession he spent his later years as the Warden of the Aberdeen home for “down and outs”.
Twice a year, Easter and Summer we would come up to the Lodging House for our holiday. It had a strong “combination” smell of old men and carbolic soap. One of his many “rules” was that every man who came to stay had to de-louse first. This meant a compulsory bath with said carbolic soap.
One of my many “jobs” while on holiday was to go to the carbolic soap store and make sure every bathroom had an adequate supply of the huge pink bars of soap. The smell of the storeroom is one of those that once breathed in, will never leave you.
It was a rough place. He was a tough man. Most days he would be physically attacked. One of his other rules was that men couldn’t stay if they were drunk. This was Aberdeen – a port and oil town. There would be dozens of men a day claiming their sobriety to no effect!
Being 6ft, being as strong as an ox, and being agile enough to avoid attempted right-hooks from drunk men were the essential job requirements for Grampa Scotland!
The real memories came from the fact that he had every afternoon off. This meant he would get me and my brothers to load his Vauxhall Viva with fishing rods and 12 bore shotguns so we could go into the Scottish countryside and catch fish and shoot anything and everything that moved.
The total joy for young boys of such expeditions was only compromised by the fact that being young, Rabbit and/or Salmon for dinner everyday got a bit boring!
I could end by saying how sad it is that my girls are being brought up without active in-put from their grand fathers. But I won’t. I will take time to reflect on how lucky I was to have had such different characters as part of my childhood 🙂