I’m so happy it’s the weekend, it’s the first weekend I’ve spent in London this year really as I’ve been travelling back home to Norfolk to be with my family as my Grandad has been ill.
Unfortunately my Grandad died Wednesday last week. It’s been 10 days now, but it feels like a month has passed in coming to terms with it etc. I decided this week that I wanted to write about my amazing Grandad and about coping with losing someone you truly cherished. I have had so many wonderful kind messages in the last week or so from friends, some of whom are going through tough times themselves.
My Grandad was truly the most kind, genuine, easy going, composed, absolutely hilarious, naughty, cheeky, clever, inspirational man. He made friends with everybody wherever he went and drew people in with his uplifting and joyful presence which goes hand in hand with how many people have been affected by his passing. I have had messages from people from junior school, but who I’d lost touch with, who said they always remembered my Grandad from my birthday parties etc and have very fond memories of him. He made an impression on everybody. Talking of which, I remember one birthday party I had, he picked up one of my school friends and chucked her in the pool!
He was the kindest man I knew, I remember once when I was little, he was looking after me for the day, close to Christmas, and I think we were doing a bit of shopping. I saw in this department store the most amazing wooden set of coloured pencils (I was obsessed with art as a kid) and my Grandad bought it for me as my ‘special Christmas present’ from him specifically, even though Granny normally sorted the Christmas presents. An extra Christmas present as a child? Yes please! I can picture the set of pencils to this day and went home to Granny & Grandad’s house to start drawing straight away before my Mum picked me up.
Another kind memory I have of Grandad is from when I was 18 and moving to London. My Mum and Granny drove down to London to help me move into my little student accommodation studio flat to start college that September. I didn’t have an oven, just a cooking hob and a microwave. The week before we drove down, my Grandad went to the supermarket on his own and bought me lots of cupboard ingredients and things to make dinners with without having an oven. He gave it all to Granny, who unpacked it all in my mini kitchen that day in London and said this is from Grandad. I specifically remember there being melba toast and some pate. Delicious food that a student wouldn’t think of.
After about a year in London, I was alone in my flat one day, I accidentally set the microwave on fire by stupidly leaving a metal spoon in the bowl. I’d gone to the bathroom and hadn’t realised what had happened until I smelt smoke and my entire microwave was on fire, and blocking my entry into the kitchen. I should have called the fire brigade, but instead I called my Granny and Grandad at home (just FYI I don’t recommend NOT calling the emergency services first). Grandad picked up, by this point I was becoming rather hysterical, and he calmly told me ‘to take a deep breath Harriet, you’ll be alright. Now do you have any salt at home?’ ‘Yes I have salt in the cupboard’ I said. ‘Okay so try and reach from a distance the salt in your cupboard and then throw it all on the flames’. Well the flames went out like a click of the fingers. I was so impressed. Grandad then joked and said ‘you’ll never forget to buy salt now!’. He was always so calm, composed, level headed and easy going. Nothing ever phased him. He NEVER got angry with us Grandchildren and would never dream of telling us off, that was Granny’s job he’d say.
Now, he was also quite famously a rather naughty and cheeky man and absolutely hilarious. He told, in equal measures, the best and worst jokes I’ve ever heard, which I will always remember, and will always make me cackle.
When I was little, Granny and Grandad owned and ran a pub and they used to have these very yummy little biscuits (Lotus biscuits, the best) to go with coffee. I used to eat so many of them. I would crawl around the pub and Grandad would show me off to all his customers. We used to play this game where Grandad would sit on a chair and pretend to talk to a grown up. He’d say ‘ooo I think I’ll have one of those delicious biscuits’. Then he’d open a biscuit up and hold it up in his left hand while he continued talking, acting as if he was about to eat it. Then I’d sneakily come up beside him without him knowing and take the biscuit out of the wrapper he was holding. Then I’d run away and eat it while Grandad says ‘What! What’s happened to my biscuit’, he’d make a big fuss of trying to find this biscuit. I thought it was absolutely hilarious. Once I’d grown up a bit he played exactly the same game with all of us Grandchildren. Even with my little brother Jack, about 15 years later. I will always remember that game and the fun we had and I’ll play the same one with my future children.
Once when we were on holiday together in the South of France (I always said there was no one I’d rather go on holiday with than my Granny & Grandad), I was about 12 or 13 and was reading one of those girly teenage magazines, like Sugar or Gossip. I asked Grandad what his star sign was and read out his horoscope. It said something like ‘5 days of fabulous flirting’. So Grandad said ‘oh okay, I’ll try my best’ which we all thought hilarious. The next day we were all sitting down for lunch at a beach club when this woman came over to take our order. This woman had rather large breasts and said to Grandad what would you like. Grandad’s response was ‘I’d like a pair of those please’ and pointed straight to her chest. Well the woman, along with the rest of us, cracked up with laughter, he just said ‘what? I’ve got 5 days of fabulous flirting!’. He was the kind of man who could make jokes like that with a stranger and get away with it because he had this cheeky and I guess innocent or harmless look on his face. He’d get away with murder! Safe to say this waitress loved our table the best and rather took a liking to Grandad from then on.
Grandad and me used to make up this song which we thought was very entertaining and naughty. We used to sing ‘Granny farts in the bath, la la la, Granny farts on the bus, la la la, Granny farts in the supermarket’. It used to wind Granny up (obviously) but as a little kid that was so funny. Toilet humour was always, and still is, the most entertaining 😉. My family all love a bit of toilet humour, especially when eating dinner (don’t ask) and Grandad championed that.
Then the final story I’ll tell of Grandad is one he used to tell all of us, probably because he was quite proud of it. It was before any of us Grandchildren were born. He used to run a pub in Essex and one evening when he was behind the bar talking to customers, Granny would have been serving food, this woman came in with a very long fur coat on and asked for Eric Colchester. Grandad came up to her and she opened up her coat and flashed him! She had nothing underneath! Grandad always thought that was hilarious when he’d tell us that. She was a local and a customer a couple of times and apparently liked the look of him when she’d come into the pub before. Safe to say Granny was not amused.
I have SOOOOO many cherished memories of him that will stick with me for all my life. I don’t think he’ll ever truly be gone. His passion and love for cooking and food sits within me. Whenever we were out for dinner as a family, I’d always ask Grandad what he was having because we had exactly the same taste in food and I’d just order the same as him. His cooking was the best. Grandad’s roasts are legendary, he loved to cook a stew or a beef bourguignon and all his food was made with so much love. Christmas, Easter and most Sundays were special because of his cooking.
It has been so hard losing him and it almost doesn’t feel real. It hits me sometimes that’s he’s not here anymore, I can no longer say ‘Granny & Grandad’. I can no longer call him up on the phone or give him a hug. But I am realising that he will never ever be gone really. He sits in my heart, in my memories, he’s there whenever I’m eating amazing food, drinking a gin & tonic (his and my favourite drink), he’s there whenever I’m cooking, and he’ll be there whenever I go swimming in the sea which was always his favourite. This year is going to be tough but as a family we’ll get through it. There’ll be ups and downs but it’s about taking each day as it comes and accepting that there will be down days sometimes.
It’s important to be open and talk about how we’re feeling which I haven’t been doing, especially with my boyfriend. Without realising, I’ve sort of shut him out recently and pushed him away. I didn’t realise quite what I was doing but I knew that something was up and that I was acting strangely. It came to a head this week when my boyfriend approached me asking ‘do you not like me anymore?’, half joking but also being serious. It dawned on me the reality of how I’d been behaving, I think I was sub consciously trying to cause problems in my relationship and almost punish myself to help distract me from the fact I’ve lost my loving Grandad. It’s a very bad way of coping.
It’s all been piling up in my head since the scare of my mum falling seriously ill when she had a brain haemorrhage last October. Then my Grandad becoming ill shortly after and gradually loosing a lot of weight. I’ve tried to carry on as normal but have definitely not felt okay inside. I’m going to really try and focus on being open and mindful about my feelings, not bottle it all up inside. I’m going to try and accept that some days I’ll feel fine and other days I won’t. I’ve started writing down how I feel in a notebook when it does get too much inside my head, and definitely to talk to my boyfriend more and actually let him be there to support me.
I’ve decided to run the Race for Life 10K on Sunday 26th July in Hyde Park in memory of my Grandad and I’m raising as much money as possible for Cancer Research to help future families fight and hopefully BEAT cancer.
If you would like to donate money, please visit my giving page using the link below:
So to anyone who is going through a difficult time, please remember you are not alone, we’ll get through this together. Please remember to speak out and talk to someone you love. A problem shared is a problem halved after all. The person you talk to and share your feelings with might be going through something similar as well. One of my friends lost her loving Dad this time last year, and another of my friends lost her Grandad last weekend as well. We aren’t alone in this. We can all be there for each other, together, as one.
Lots of love to you all and to my dear ol’ Grandad up in the clouds ⛅️ ⛅️ ⛅️ 💋 xxxx