Right. Deep breaths. This post is going to be a bastard to write. Tissues at the ready - here goes!
Something that I have been dreading happening since I was old enough to dread something happening has finally come to pass. Grandad finally found out what really happened to Glen Miller. How? - you may ask. Well, because he's gone to Heaven, that's how.
Here we go now, snot flying everywhere already.
For those of you who don't know how I felt about my Grandad, you can read about it at the end of this post. He, like Nanny Alice, was an exemplary human being. Meseff and himseff had a special bond, because we were both as odd as each other. When I was growing up, every single Sunday all the uncles and aunts and cousins would do to Grandad's house for tea. First the adults would eat and when they were finished the kids would take over their places at the table while the adults went into the sitting room. Then we would all go into the sitting room to have the banter and Grandad would sit in the dark in the kitchen and listen to Glenn Miller records. At some point in the evening (after several rigorous rounds of blind man's buff out in the hall) I would sneak in there too and sit on his lap and we used to sit in silence, looking into the darkness and listening to the music. I'd love to know what he used to think about.
We were bestest buds. He used to knock on my window every Saturday morning at stupid o' clock to take me grocery shopping with him. Unfortunately, there was also a third party involved in these Saturday morning activities. This was Jazz, Grandad's dog. What can I say about Jazz? The dog was just an anomaly. To me, thinking back now, his personality was indecipherable. I could never tell whether he was good or evil. One thing, however, was very clear. The dog fucking stank. To high Heaven. I mean, he had some serious issues. No living thing should emit such a foul stench. Getting into the car with that thing took superhuman strength. I'd be like "Oh my GOD! The smell in this car is unreal!" And Grandad would give the quintessential Grandad quote "I'll put a bit of scent on the dog" and reach over me into the glove box and take out a bottle of Brut and sprinkle it on the dog. As you can imagine, this only exacerbated the situation. So I used to stick my head out the window the whole way to the shop.
When we got to the shop, I could either have 40p or a Yop. Or on a really good day, I could have an Onken spaceship yoghurt. Jesus they were lovely. As I got a bit older then, bordering on teenage territory, I had a little crush on this fella that worked in the supermarket. Ronan, his name was. Grandad used to elbow me in the ribs whenever he was in view and I used to get all up in a heap. Then one day we were going through the checkout and who was packing the bags only Casanova himself. Grandad turned around to me and said in a really loud voice "Look, isn't that the fella that you like?" I nearly died. "Oh my GOD, shut UP Grandad!" "Ronan, isn't it?" He said this for the benefit of Ronan, who went beetroot red. I. Was. Mortified. I said nothing until we got out the door and then I ate the face off him all the way back to his house in the car. He took it all on the chin, chuckling away to himself and then he made it all up to me by making me my favourite thing ever in the world: Grandad pancakes.
Now these pancakes were the shiznits. No other pancakes on Earth can stand up next to Grandad pancakes. Probably because he cooked them in lard. And of course, the secret ingredient: custard powder. My sister would go crazy if she saw him putting the custard powder into the batter "That's disgusting! You're not to put that in mine!" and he would say "no, no, I won't" and the minute her back was turned he'd signal to me to watch him while he put a heaping spoonful of custard powder into the batter and the two of us would be trying not to look at each other when she tucked into her pancakes.
Then when I was 16 I got my very first job, in Besco's supermarket, so Grandad used to call into me in work and I could still do the shopping with him. But then I moved onto the greener pastures of Pound City and my cousin Anna took over shopping duty. When I was a teenager sometimes when I heard the knock on the window I would do a big groan because I wanted to stay in bed. I want to go back to that time and smack myself in the fucking face. I would do anything for one more scoot around Crazy Prices, me eating the head off him for hiding behind the toilet rolls on me and him just laughing his head off.
Sure that's only the start of it. He was just a legend on all counts. He was always laughing and always smiling and he was just the best, most honorable man. I could tell a bajillion stories, I could go on and on. When I think of my childhood, Grandad had the starring role, not my friends, not school, not anything else, but Grandad. Then when I got older, whenever I had a big fight with Mam I used to ring him in secret and he used to give me the pep talk. He always had my back and I always felt like he understood me, and if there's one thing I have always wanted it's just to be understood.
Then in May, he suddenly remembered that Nanny had died twelve years before, and his heart broke all over again, and so did all of ours. Then he needed full time care and eventually had to be put in a nursing home, where we had our last ever proper conversation. The last thing I ever said to him was "I love you" and the last thing he ever said to me was "I wish I had ten more of you".
Then he passed away at the end of September and we buried him next to Nanny Alice. I'm not taking it very well. I honestly thought he was going to live forever. Most of the time it doesn't feel real and I just walk around with a cloud over my head, forgetting things I have to do and losing things. But then sometimes I get an overwhelming wave of grief and I don't know how to deal with this. I can't believe it's over.
I really do wish I had ten more of him. But like all the greats, there can only be one.
The Doomsday Machine
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