Friday, 20 February 2009

Great granddad

During visits to my grandparents’ house, my granddad would joke with me and say: ‘Hasn’t Betty learnt to speak yet?’ or ‘Is she thick?’ and he would openly mock the name ‘Betty’. Whenever Betty left a trail of biscuit crumbs along their sitting room floor it made him grimace. He’d tell her off for sticking her head in the washing machine, or for pulling the window blinds too hard, and he had to leave the room when Betty’s excitable squeals caused interference on his hearing aid. (Betty would then go off in hot pursuit, barge into his bedroom and cheerfully say: ‘HELLLOOO’ and he would grumpily grunt something back at her.)

But all this was just the surface. When we visited their house, my granddad always came to the door to greet us, gave both Betty and me a big kiss, and then took Betty by the hand and guided her carefully up the steps, chatting affectionately to her as they went. And although at 94 years old he was frail and achy, he mustered up all his energy to pick her up and sit her on his lap, and happily let her feed him half-eaten soggy crisps. When Betty trotted into the garden he’d follow her and coax his old dog out of her kennel so that Betty could say hello to her. And I often caught him looking at Betty with genuine warmth and love. He and my grandma were Betty’s very first visitors in hospital when she was just a day old. I’ll always remember them peering into her crib and seeing her for the first time, and both looking like they were going to cry.

One time, when he and I were watching Betty racing around the room, he started reminiscing about the moment he found out that I had been born. He was on a fishing holiday in Scotland with my grandma and they were woken in the early hours by the landlady of the B&B, who brought them a cup of tea with the news.

When I was little, he and my grandma used to come to my birthday parties. Thirty years later they came to Betty’s first birthday party. My granddad was even apologetic when they had to leave early because it had started snowing heavily.

Up until recently this funny and caring man was healthy and active, walking his dog, driving into town, and even going fishing. Last week he passed away in his sleep, having been taken ill just a week before. I’m dreading the moment when we walk into my grandparents’ house and Betty asks where he is.

18 comments:

Tawny said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure when Betty does ask, you will be able to explain ad comfort her also.

She's like the wind said...

I too am sorry to hear about your loss, I had a good few major tearful outbursts when the kids mentioned my Gran after she passed in October, luckily they are old enough to understand, perhaps you could tell her he is the brightest star in the sky, I always liked that fantasy and I'm sure it would comfort you too. take care xx

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Oh dear, I'm so sorry to read of your loss. I imagine Betty will miss him and will create a wonderful image of him in her head.

CJ xx

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

Sorry to hear about your Grandad. I'm sure when Betty is older you'll be able to tell her lots of Grandad stories.

Rosie Scribble said...

What a powerful post. Sorry to hear of your loss. He sounds like such a lovely man who has left you with so many special memories.

Louise said...

So sorry to hear your sad news. When Betty is older, you will be able to tell her all about this wonderful man who shared such special moments with her. Thinking of you x

Iota said...

Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, it is a difficult one to deal with, with children. How lovely that he and she were able to get to know each other.

Sparx said...

Oh Elsie, I'm so so sorry; it's awful to lose these people in our lives who have all the family histories in their heads. You're so lucky that he was around to meet and love Betty and it sounds as though he had a wonderful life full of the good things but he's not gone really; he's just left a hole.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I too am sorry to hear of your loss. I heard a Radio 4 broadcast the other week in which the late great Sir John Mortimer was interviewed...he said that the older generations live on through the younger ones. Their memories are passed on to the next generation and also through the younger generation's memory of them.

We have been straight forward with our daughter about the recent death of her grandmother. She has taken it very well and we encourage her to talk about it. She has even said that she wants to visit Grandma's grave when she is next down in Surrey. My husband's eyes well up when she talks about Grandma in an almost grown up way.

Big hugs. Hadriana x

PS: Congratulations on the news on a Button to be!

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Very sorry to hear of your loss. When we lost my father at the end of 2007, we told R that he was gone and that she wouldn't be able to hug him anymore, but that she could see him in her memories and her dreams and lots and lots of photos. She was still very young at the time, and I'm not sure if she properly remembers him now, or just recognises him and knows of him from photos and us talking about him. But she does know who he is and that her hippo was Granddad's and things like that. She seems to understand, but who knows how much they can understand about death at such a young age. It's difficult enough for us adults to understand, really.

As Betty gets older, you'll be able to share your memories and stories with her and keep his memory alive that way.

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jenny said...

So sorry to hear about your grandad. You'll know what to tell Betty when the time comes.

(((hugs)))
xo

Suffolkmum said...

I'm so sorry Elsie. My Grandma died last summer at the age of 94. i still miss her daily. How wonderful for Betty when she grows up to know, though, that she knew her Great Grandad.

Stella B said...

so sorry for your loss. But how wonderful it is that he could know Betty and enjoy her.

Frog in the Field said...

Oh Elsie,
Having just lost both my Grandmothers my heart sank reading this.
My children were gutted to lose their great granparents, but feel happy in the thought of all that love that passed between them, such treasured memories to keep close to our heart.
Love
Frog

Pig in the Kitchen said...

So sad to read about your grandad, but what a moving tribute to him.
There's nothing to be said when things like this happen...

:-(

Pigx

Elsie Button said...

thanks so much everyone for your lovely messages, and experiences. it's really helped. x

sew hot said...

I am much older than it sounds like the rest of you are. I had a grandpa much like Betty when I was young. He was taken away early. I don't really have a memory of him only of the stories my mom would share with me growing up. So share with your dauhter and make the memories real for her.