My Grandpa died a couple of hours ago. I went to see him this afternoon. I held his hand for a long while, and even though he was in pain, he gave me a wink and another “bye bye”. The doctor then came and authorised an injection of Diamorphine, and my mum, my two aunts and my wife and I waited as he stubbornly resisted the temptation to fall asleep. Defiant to the end.
We left a few hours before he died, but he never woke up from the sleep we saw him enter. It was silly how I found out, actually – my mum rang me to let me know, and my phone didn’t bloody pick it up even though it was in the same room as me. Typical. I’m sad now but at the same time I’m happy, because my Grandpa only ever truly loved one woman – my Grandma, who I never knew as she died when I was only a year old – and now he’s with her again. He’ll like that.
I’ll always remember catching practise. When I was in my teens I used to go after school to 37 Linden Road, where Grandpa lived, and we’d spend hours in the lounge throwing and catching a cricket ball together. Before long I became a crazy-awesome catcher, all down to his tutelage. We often used to sit there watching the football, and whichever player didn’t live up to his high standards was a “bloody idiot”: his insult of choice. He was qualified to make the assessment, of course, as he had been a superb footballer himself, winning caps for England’s youth team and playing for Bristol City as a rather good defender. I wish I’d inherited his skills but unfortunately I didn’t, and I don’t know whether I ever made him proud of me. But I was definitely proud of him. He lived a full life, and a lot of people loved him. It appears that I’m now the eldest male member of his family, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I have big shoes to fill.
I love you so much, Grandpa. You were one of the most important people in my life, and I value every single moment that I spent with you. I miss you so much already – the sarcasm, the dry wit, but above all, the sense that you were always in my corner, that we were a team. Nothing will ever replace that. Nor should anything. Thank you for being the best Grandpa anyone could ever hope for. I was so proud to be your grandson. Goodbye.