Today marks 20 years since my Grandad died. Which means it’s been a bit more than that since he walked me through his bread pudding recipe. I write about my Grandad a lot, because as I get older, I’ve realised that his influence on me is growing.
He wasn’t my only grandparent but he was the only one I ever got to meet.
He wasn’t an easy man, I know that he wasn’t a great parent and as a younger man had a temper. Some of that can explained by the fact that he didn’t have an easy life.
Born in 1914, eldest of four and the only boy. His mum died in or post childbirth when he was 10 (and he wasn’t around because he was bunking off Sunday school, so they couldn’t find him). His dad wasn’t easy, how much of that was that he was just miserable or how much of it was as a result of a full four years as a soldier during WWI, I can’t say but Grandad and his dad were not on good terms.That wasn’t helped by his father’s decision not to let him stay on at school past 14. You see Grandad was bright (the maths thing that Ma and Ben do, that came from Grandad) but you had to pay for school past 14 in 1928 and I’m guessing that my great grandfather couldn’t afford it.
Grandad got married in 1944, I don’t think it was the most successful marriage in the world. It’s pretty open knowledge now that my uncle is not my Grandad’s son, although it wasn’t then, but Ma says that when she found out, it made a lot of Grandad’s behaviour make sense to her. Grandad never said a word, not even after Iris died in 1962.If you had asked me about him when I was little, I would have told you that Grandad worked three days a week, came for dinner on Tuesdays and came over on Saturday mornings, usually bringing us pocket money and lots of fruit and kit kats. Ma banned sweets, the other cousins got sweets (and I’m still not over it!). He belonged to the Salvation Army and he went to Belgium on the ferry from Ramsgate, for two weeks every year and came back very tanned and with Toberones for all.
I would also tell you about when we all went on holiday to Minorca, Ma remembers that as plane was about to take off, Grandad looked a bit nervous and she asked him if he’d flow before, his reply “not since the war”.
He came to church with us at Christmas and I spent every Christmas of my life from 1973 to 1997 with him, he took us to watch Fulham at Craven Cottage, he was delighted when as a teenager, I helped out at the youth club at the Salvation Army and always came to every midnight Mass that I was serving at (you could always hear his singing!)
There is a lot I don’t know about my Grandad. What I do know, what he taught me is that he never stopped trying and neither should I. He made mistakes but he carried on, he did he best. He wasn’t perfect but he really loved us and he always tried to show us that.
He didn’t talk a lot about his feelings but I always knew he loved me, from the way he would wait for us on his working days and walk with us, when I was at secondary school and I had to walk past his house and he’ll always be there waving and commenting on my lateness. If you mentioned that you loved choc ices, he’d bring you choc ices every week.
My Grandad was also one of the best examples of faith I have. Fail, fall down, get up, try again. Carry on walking, know that God is with you, even and especially when it’s hard.
So whenever I get a bit soppy about him, I remember that the example he gave me was of carrying on and trusting God and I try and do that. I also make bread pudding, which I’m did last night and I’m going to eat tonight with a cup of tea.