Posts Tagged ‘grandad’

It’s taken a while to write this post, mainly because time flew and lots of things had to be done first before this post could be written – and mainly because I wasn’t quite sure how to start.  It’s also one of the hardest things to write a blog about one of your biggest supporters and followers, when he’s never going to be able to read it. I think it would be best to start this way… – life has changed dramatically. Not only in the past fourteen months, following my Grandad’s fall just after Christmas 2014 – but in the past few weeks. On the 29th February 2016, Grandad died. Right up until that moment, for many of the family, our biggest goal in life was to preserve his memory, keep his smile alive and fight for him. On the 29th February 2016, the fight gently ended.

I won’t go into the details, because as many of my family members know, I’m still so very angry at ways in which things played out. But as my Mum often says, my Grandad was such a peaceful and calm person, that it’s really important his passing is also peaceful and calm – and that the anger is dealt with as best as we know how.

I didn’t know whether to write a blog entry, or when to write one. However so many people have seen and commented on the journey that I have found myself upon – not only in the last four years since starting this blog, but in the past year and a bit of maintaining it whilst also managing a significant change in my life. You saw the Christmas photos taken in 2014, just a few days before my Grandad’s fall…you read of my frustration a month later… you saw the Valentine’s Day photos, the Father’s Day smile

But all of that doesn’t matter when I think back to 2012, when I started this blog for the first time. When I saw two email addresses join my ‘followers’ list, the very first two… My Mum and also my Grandad… We talked throughout 2012, throughout the 365 challenge – my Grandad seeing my posts everyday in his email box and talking and talking about my Photos with such pride. One of my biggest supporters, and therefore one that deserves a huge tribute.

The funeral was last Wednesday. It was incredible – so many people have said how amazing the Funeral was and what a good time they had. My Grandma catches herself when she repeats this and says ‘but we musn’t..’ That’s not true, Grandad would insist that we must. Everything was just perfect. The only factor that wasn’t, was that my Grandad wasn’t sat in the rows of seats, enjoying the moment with us. He would have loved it too – in fact, I’m sure he did, from wherever he was watching.

Nobody can tell you how a Funeral will go, but I’m very much a believer in the fact that it will go how you want it to go. I didn’t realise this before the event, and if I had, I might have slept better and be less filled with dread. I might also have not battled with the Waterproof Mascara, who needs that stuff anyway. Before my Grandad’s death, I feared death. I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or breathe if someone close to me died. In fact, I did all of those things and more whilst taking part in creating the Order of Service and even a slideshow of photos to show at the Wake. Two things that I thought I wouldn’t be able to even think about, let alone do.

I’m so proud of the day, of everyone who was there, of the ways in which we all played our part. I’m so proud that my Grandad was driven to my childhood home, where his Children, Children-in-law, Grand-children, their partners and his wife, met him. I’m so proud that the funeral director led the hearse, walking up the hill in front of it. When I saw the Hampshire Constabulary flag, my heart ached, but it was pride that overtook the grief. When they opened the door of the Funeral car and my Uncle laid my Grandfather’s police whistle on the coffin, my heart ached – but it was pride again. Nobody tells you that grief isn’t just grief alone – it’s made up of all sorts of other little things to combine to make one awful sounding word. Grief. The word isn’t right – it’s not about Grief, it’s about pride, love, memories, happiness… Grief is for something or someone that has been wrenched from you whilst you cling, and scream, and shout and sink to the floor. We all have our moments of those, but they don’t linger.

There were five cars in the procession that followed my Grandad out of the road and into the village. People walking past, stopped and bowed their heads. One woman made the sign of the cross. Dog walkers stood respectfully whilst we passed, their dogs sat patiently to attention. Nobody tried to overtake us, everybody kept their distance. Nobody knew us, but everyone knew. Once we had cleared the village and the Funeral Director had safely seen us out onto the main road, we drove in convey to the place where we would gather to say a proper goodbye.

I couldn’t help it when we arrived at the Crematorium – I said out loud, ‘Oh my God.’ The generous car park was full to the brim, the overflow field being used. The crowd outside was astounding – over seventy people had turned out to say goodbye with us. For a man of my Grandad’s age (87, just almost 88), that was incredible. There were colleagues, friends, family, nursing home staff and more, so many more. There were no spare seats inside – the room was packed as we followed the coffin in to the strains of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow.’ My Uncles each took the place of a pall bearer, carrying their Father down to the front of the room. It was poignant, and a moment full of such pride for their strength and unity.

Everything that was said and done from that moment onwards, brought a smile, a memory and sometimes a tear. The readings, the poems, the memories – the emotion… it’s indescribable. Funerals happen all the time, all over the world, everyday. But this was our family, and this felt different. My Dad ended the memories with his own speech, introducing a Costa Coffee Cup (Grandad did love his coffee), with a protective homemade hand protector (an unused arrest warrant) – the murmurs from the back of the room were most definitely from the retired police officers… and then finally, pulled out the last object to complete our memoirs. At this point many of us were filled with a little bit of dread, fear of the unknown….was it going to be a Whoppee Cushion (some people WOULD get that joke, others not!) Was it going to be a pretend set of false teeth (even less would get that one, but still….) But no, it was ‘Little Al…’ A puppet that my Grandad had brought to life many years ago with his talents and something that so many of us could relate to as being one of my Grandad’s humorous traits, skills and memories…and even more poignant because Little Al kind of looked like Big Al too!

So why is this post entitled ‘Good Grief?’ There were all sorts of maudlin things that I could have put into that box, but nothing that really summed up what was going on in my mind and what I was witnessing around me. Some will shake their heads and say that Grief can never be good. I think it can. The true definition of Grief is to cause or be causing and experiencing immense sorrow. I’m not. Because of my Grandad’s beautiful life and rich, full experiences, because of his love – there is so much to celebrate. I’m sad, I’m extremely sad – but I am bombarded at all hours of the day with amazing memories, with flashbacks to beautiful smiles, hugs, days out, moments… Grief is doing that to me, and I’m grateful. If I couldn’t remember all of these things and had nothing to miss and be sad for, well, wouldn’t that be a shame. Good Grief is keeping me going and allowed me to write this blog. If I let the Bad Grief take over, you wouldn’t get a single word before I collapsed and gave up.

“Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

Good Grief

Now he’s gone, let him go,
Don’t bind to him with tears.
There is another place for him,
We had our golden years.

Don’t make a noise or shout his name,
Let your heart feel no despair.
Stay in the warm and search your soul,
For you shall find him there.

Call off the search, you’ll find no trace,
He leaves behind mere dust.
Don’t fret yourself at where he is,
Just because you feel you must.

There will be days, grieve if you need,
We part for just a while.
Let your grief be wrapped in hope,
You won’t forget his smile.

It matters not the date of birth,
Nor the date we said goodbye.
The precious years spent in-between,
Matter most to you and I.

We walk upon the road he travelled,
One day we’ll walk alone.
When we do… he’ll be there.
To smile and bring us home.

~ Kathryn Dawson ~

(a.k.a one proud Granddaughter)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: