Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Majestic Man

The new job is in full swing, and I am exhausted. My grandfather was buried at the weekend in a truly beautiful and historic location, in view of both mountains and sea. It is sad. I miss him. My mother drew a picture of him (reproduced below), not long ago. I have a copy of this picture, and it is beautiful, but at the moment I have placed it carefully face down on a table. It is just too sad.

I am having occasional tearful moments of "Oh, no, it can't be true." He was 100 years old, so it is not only true but no great surprise. Nobody gets to live forever but he really did his damnedest and there is nothing to regret. But he is gone, and I miss him.

The books haven't arrived yet, which is ever-so-slightly annoying, particularly as I can't easily ring from work to discover their whereabouts. But they were apparently dispatched yesterday via next-day wotsit, so they can't be far away.

Here is what I said at the funeral. I don't normally read from a script when doing public speaking, because it never works as well as ad-libbing from notes, but I was in no fit state to do anything else. It was written in a rush, on the morning of the funeral, with my nephews running in and out of the room shouting and playing cars around my feet, but sometimes the best things are written under such circumstances:

"I went into the chemist a few weeks ago and got talking to Sandra, the lady behind the counter. I mentioned Brenda and Bill, and she knew straightaway who I meant. Bill in particular was the one they saw the most, and they used to call him Sir Fenton.

'Oh no,' he would say. 'You must call me Bill.'

This tiny tale encapsulates for me the essence of Bill. The title, 'Sir Fenton', would have been earnt by his immense dignity. As a very small child, I was ever-so-slightly scared of him, but I quickly learnt what lay beneath that majestic exterior. I expect we can all imagine the expression on his face when he said, 'You must call me Bill.' The twinkle in his eyes and the subtle smile. Right to the end he maintained that dignity. He bore his illness calmly and with little complaint, he chose his words carefully and he always knew what he meant.

When I saw him last, only a few weeks ago, he was very weak and for a while we sat in silence. But then he showed his immense love by asking after my two sons - his great-grandchildren - and smiling as he heard of their exploits. And then he said a very firm goodbye. Few words, clear intention, dignity and love to the last. He has been a quiet solid presence for all of my life. Presence was something he had in abundance, and his absence creates a very large hole. I'll miss him."

My grandfather:

I really want to write a longer piece, like I did for my other grandfather, but it may have to wait.


Queenie said...

Your grandfather sounds rather special. It must be tough losing both your grandfathers within a few weeks of each other. Sending hugs x

Dandelion said...

Beautiful words, beautiful picture.

Megan said...

There's a bit of El Greco in there, isn't there? His Vangelis, or Paul the Apostle. It sounds as though he lived a a good life - a true life.

Sue Guiney said...

Whether you write a longer post about Sir Fenton or not, this was really lovely. The drawing is a treasure.

Leigh Forbes said...

My grandfather died aged 91, and everyone said, "Well, he's had a good innings," and I wanted to scream, "He's still dead, and I don't want him to be..."

I still miss him, fifteen years on. I have lovely pictures of him, photographs, mind, nothing as personal as a proper drawing.

I feel for you, in these early raw days. Grandfather? 100? Doesn't make any difference; loss is loss. I am sorry for yours.

Alice Turing said...

You're right Leigh. I have been too busy to grieve much for the last week, but it's in there.

Kath McGurl said...

Hi Squirrel - I followed a link here from Spiral Skies blog to buy your novel, and am so sorry to hear about your grandfather. Doesn't matter how old he was, he was still your grandad and you'll still miss him, forever though the pain lessens in time. Your blog posts about both your grandfathers are a wonderful tribute.

Jenny Beattie said...

Thank you for posting the picture. It's beautiful.