My grandfather, on my father’s side, was born in 1903. That is him in the picture as a young boy, sitting on the black horse. I am guessing the picture is from 1910-1912. He was already 69 years old when I was born, yet I only remember him as strong and never old.
He was a gentle and quiet man with a great sense of humour. To me he was the wisest man I knew, yet he was always humble. He could reach me like no other. A smile, perhaps a gentle touch and a wise word from him could silence my deamons and calm me like nothing else, as a boy or a young man struggling with life. Granddad would sit in his rocking chair and be a pillar of strength for me just be being there.
His father, my great-grandfather, died in 1906 and I guess the hard life on a farm without a father taught granddad many hard lessons very early in his life. Yet his patience and inner peace seemed to know no bounds.
He was a story teller and would tell me stories of two world wars, of the first car, the first radio, the moon landing, the first TV. I would listen in silent wonder. His mind never failed to amaze me. When he was about 83-84 years old he once came into my room during a visit. I was playing computer games. He looked at the screen in silence then stunned me: “oh I see, you are supposed to shoot those spaceships and avoid those and score extra points, you are doing well”.
He did have really bad luck in pancakes. He and grandmother lived near my school so I often stopped by. Grandmother made pancakes and granddad always got the blackened bits. “I love the burned ones, they’re my favourite” he would assure us. Me and my siblings of course believed this for many years, poor granddad.
He died in February 1995, age 93, in good health in his own home. He apparently just said to my grandmother “I feel a bit tired”, then making sure grandma was ok, he sat down in a chair and his heart stopped. A peaceful, humble and perfect end.
I think of him every day. For the last 4 months in Singapore I have needed to find extra love, grace, patience, humour and strength within myself to support my love, Charlene, and her mother after their loss of a father and husbond. Some days I fail. But I try and draw these qualities from my memories of him. Today those magical memories made me cry.
I miss you granddad.