Well fancy seeing you here...

Hello and welcome to the rambling rollercoaster of useless ponderings, strung together in what the internet calls a "blog," and the voices call a waste of everyone elses time.

Please check your sanity at the door (along with your dignity, logic, principles, good taste and prejudices against daftness.)

"I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life." -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Monday, 11 May 2009

Tomorrow's Yesterdays

Today would be my late grandfather's 73rd birthday. I've been contemplating what to write here for a couple of weeks now and as yet am still as clueless as I was then. It's not because I'm short of wonderful memories or amusing anecdotes. On the contrary, if you want the sort of melodramatic, heartbreaking tales of courage, dignity and love that will single-handedly resurrect the economy via sales of Kleenex, then I have several. He starred in many a story during his lifetime, and all who knew him have accounts worthy of retelling.

I just can't decide which to relay here, now, knowing that so many of you are so far removed from the world he inhabited – and have such limited reason to care about the moments I hold dear. I'm also a victim of my appalling memory. It isn't that I forget things – more that they lose themselves in my brain. I'm often moved to liken it to an attic; an overlooked space housing far too much junk, leaving sentimental treasures and the echoes of past lives hidden beneath more trivial pursuits. …Or, as in the case of our own attic, actual Trivial Pursuit. It was a small yellow box with a dinosaur on the side, and 'Trivial Pursuit' scrawled on the lid in a bright red font. This illustrates nicely how my mind provides shelter for so much inconsequential nonsense that it is – understandably – difficult to separate coherent bits of anything else without assistance. No doubt later today will provide opportunity for such discourse, as various members of the family commemorate the date in whichever way comforts them the most.

This year his absence is almost more striking than ever, as (for perhaps the first time since his death) there are clear signs that life's moving forward without him. Over the coming months I'm to be both an aunt and a bridesmaid, as my sister sees fit to breed and my father is getting married. Each of us has – in one way or another – rediscovered our course in the world without the security of the guiding hand he provided, which is as upsetting as it is a welcome relief from the limbo inhabited by the recently-bereaved.

I remember when he died, thinking even then that I couldn't possibly imagine the grander moments in my life occurring without him there to enjoy it, and claim his right to be proud of the adult who emerged from the childhood he so greatly influenced. The goals he set for his final days following the terminal cancer diagnosis were to reach his 70th birthday; celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary; and see-in my 21st. The last of those was the only he didn't quite manage, and is probably the reason my contemplation drifted in the direction it did at the time. Marriage, children – or even just celebrating the legality and chronological-significance of becoming twenty-one – seemed incomprehensible. I couldn't imagine ever welcoming anyone into the family, truly accepting them as "one of us", if they didn't know Grandad. It seemed inconceivable that subsequent generations (and/or members) of the clan would know of him only through the photographs and stories that were the only way my own great-grandfather was brought to life for me.

And yet, here we are, entering what will soon be the third year without him, and those things which appeared to be so impossible are as real and as marvellous as he would have wished them to be. Perhaps the additions to the family never will feel as if they knew him; the important thing is that we did. His strength, loyalty, and humour infused us all. The people who become a part of our world will – unknowingly – reap the rewards of his character (as well as be infuriated by the inherited flaws, which present as various mixtures of vanity [me], determination [Dad], bullish self-assurance [Auntie Sue], and stubbornness [all of us]). The more recent branches of the family tree may never be wholly familiar with the man we loved, but they validate the life he lived and the family he raised with such unswerving dedication because they love the people he made us.

That's an awful lot of nothing for someone who has typed this much and still feels lacking in a place to start, but is – I think – mention enough for today. It won't be too sad a time, because there’s little to be truly mournful of when I know he'd have loved Sam and Lee, and would have adored having the girls around as much as he enjoyed it when we were little. I have no doubt that overall he'd be happy for all of us, so while it’s always an emotional day, it won’t be one filled with too much regret.

Mind you, I also think he would have been the most likely to drop my sister's baby, and the first to make a "third time lucky" joke at Dad's wedding, so maybe it was a good job we had him cremated when we did…

Happy Birthday Grandad.

(Embarrassing photo's courtesy of 1989)

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Just read this Kate - and it really struck a chord as yesterday would have been my grandad's 104th birthday - if he hadn't died when I was four. Yet I still remember him - I was his little girl; my eldest son (born the day before his birthday - never had been able to get his timing right!) is named for him and he is in my heart the way your grandad is in yours. xx