My family recently lost an amazing man. Probably the one I inherited my dirty sense of humour from. My beloved maternal Granddad is no longer in pain nor bound by illness. I headed home to Christchurch to farewell this amazing dude and hang out with my family. Although there was much sadness, there was also much love and laughter. Lots of looking backwards to move forwards. Saying goodbye to a man we loved.
My Granddad passed away at the age of 88, after 63 years of marriage to the love of his life. That would be my lovely Grandma.
I inherited a few things from my Granddad – my sense of humour, my love of a double entendre, my curls and hopefully a bit of that cool dude ‘tude.
Granddad was a natural engineer, always interested in how things could be taken apart so they could be put back together again. He restored many vintage vehicles but had a particular love for the Studebaker. I managed to track down one for my wedding, but it fell through.
He made a motorised caravan completely from scratch. His welding skills came in handy. My mother and uncles tell me stories of being driven to school riding on the bare frame whilst it was under construction.
He rescued and restored vintage motorcycles, including a WWI model which he rallied around the South Island in his retirement. That’s brass monkeys territory. Freezing!
More than 30 years ago, his lung cancer treatment involved the removal of a lung, with a life expectancy of a further 5 years. Yeah right.
He drove a long wheelbase Landrover in mustard yellow and was nicknamed Landy Grandy by the grandkids.
My memories of him as a Granddad was someone who nicknamed me Weed because I was so tall and skinny. Someone who would pull a standing flip and land back on his feet without a word of warning. Someone who would pop out his false teeth just for a laugh at the most inopportune moments.
Someone who could never throw anything out because someone would need it. Eventually. He was constantly tinkering and pottering and creating and mending.
As he aged, his one lung caused more and more health issues. His Parkinson’s didn’t help much either. He wound down a bit in his latter years but still retained that big dirty laugh and twinkle in his eye.
My Granddad’s funeral was the first time in many, many years that my parents and brothers and me were all in one place at one time. We do tend to put the fun into dysfunctional. So fabulous to just soak up some time with them. More laughter and reminiscing and tall tales.
It has been a long time since my mother and I were in Christchurch at the same time too, and wonderful to spend some quiet time with my Grandma. I sneaked a peek through the window of her new abode, a two bedroom retirement cottage, when I was visiting in January. To see her all moved in and surrounded by familiar pieces in a new environment was incredibly moving yet comforting at the same time.
She insisted I duck down so as not to give the impression she is shrinking. As if!
Saying goodbye is as important as saying hello, don’t you think?