Doctor. Teacher. Friend. Husband. Father.
To me he was grandpa.
By the time you’re old enough to know your grandparents, they’ve already lived a large part of their lives. And it’s the part where they’ve had most of their ambition, motivation and drive. In other words, the younger part of their life.
It may sound like I’m stating the obvious, but the life someone had for decades before you were alive is something I struggle to get my head around.
On Thursday the 12th April 2018, my grandpa passed away.
He survived two weeks longer than anybody, including himself, thought he would, and that’s a testament to the strength of his body and spirit.
The grandpa I knew wasn’t the ambitious young doctor. He wasn’t the person who would push the boundaries of anaesthesia. He wasn’t the consultant who spent his days in operating theatres.
He was the person who took me to restaurants. He was the person who took me and my friends to Spain. He was the person who threw me about in the pool. He was the person who spoiled me.
He was a person I looked up to and admired.
In the last ten years he became more than that, he became a friend. Someone I’d visit every week, often more than once. Someone who’s opinion I’d ask, and consider seriously, even when I thought it was wrong.
I was incredibly lucky to have had a relationship like this with my grandpa.
He’d do anything to make my life a little bit easier and a little bit nicer. He wanted his family to not have to endure any hardships or difficulties after he’d gone.
That was what allowed him to find some peace with all the years of working so hard he didn’t see his family when they were young.
For me, having my grandpa move with us to Crowland couldn’t have made me happier. I got to see him every single day, even if it was just to say “hi”, “goodnight”, or just see the top of his head over the sofa as he slept.
It was about knowing he was near, because in the 36 years I knew him, he never changed.
At least… he never changed to me.
He was always there. He was always solid. His opinions were always the same. He was always happy to see me.
Now he’s gone, I feel like a part of me has been torn out.
It will heal, and I will forever be a person who had someone like that in my life. Which makes me luckier than most.
In his last two weeks I was privileged to be able to spend five days, 24 hours a day, with my grandpa. We said all the things we’d never said, it’s rare for two people to have the time together to do that, and I will be eternally grateful and honoured.
It’s at times like this in our lives that make us slow down, take stock of what we’re doing, and think about life.
He was a strong believer in the dead being dead and the living needing to get on and live their lives. Heck, he was always asking if I didn’t have somewhere better to be when we sat on the sofa chatting.
So that’s what I’ll do.
But it will be a bit different to what I was doing before.
I made a promise. A promise that I would look after our family. A promise to continue his legacy of them being able to live a life of privilege. A promise to take care of my mum.
It’s a promise I intend to keep.
Of course, it’s impossible to not make mistakes, but I’ll do my best, which is all he ever asked.
For someone who talks and writes a lot, it’s rare that I can’t put emotions into words, but in this case nothing seems to sound quite right to the feeling inside.
So, I’ll leave it with this…
I love you grandpa. I’ll miss you. I’ll always think of you. I’ll make you proud.