This little article has not been easy to write, but it has been fulfilling. Inspired by a Daily Inkling prompt from the ever wonderful Normal Happenings (@normalhappening), I have decided to talk about something incredibly personal with you all:
A time which you remember fondly, despite the negative things going on around it, a little emotional raft in a sea of turmoil.
My example of this goes back to the tail end of 2014, when my grandfather passed away due to cancer. Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK in 1939, my grandad moved to North West England as a boy and was raised working on farms, before becoming an electrician for a huge chemical company and then teaching his trade at a local college until his retirement.
He helped to raise my brother and I (and later our cousin) like he had raised my mother (and my cousin’s father) beforehand, endowing us with curious minds, an eccentric sense of humour and a thirst and respect for knowledge and creativity across all fields. He also taught us to respect people regardless of colour, gender or creed as we grew up and was always ready to explain how the world worked and how one should properly behave, he definitely helped to shape the person I am today.
My grandad’s funeral was one of the hardest mornings of my life. Always an organised fellow, he had planned for this event a long time before it happened and my brother and I were selected by the man himself to be his pallbearers. If you’ve never done this, it is a strange and macabre experience, knowing that on your shoulder you are respectfully carrying the mortal remains of a loved one. After that, and the service that followed, I was feeling incredibly down on things and generally very numb.
But then something strange happened. If I were a spiritual soul (and I am afraid I am not) then I might even have said that my grandad visited that church from somewhere unknown and worked his charismatic magic upon us all.
My brother and I had been chosen to read an eulogy of his life. But his orders were clear and non negotiable, make it funny. Make it positive. Have a laugh. We had racked our brains for hours over this, picking out the very best anecdotes (like when he abandoned us on a ghost train, the sadist) and, on the day, they had the desired effect. The congregation fell about laughing through their tears and the mood changed. Of course we we’re still all very sad, but now our heads were held high and we all felt that we had done the man proud.
The wake followed in much the same way, it become more of a party than a somber affair as we all remembered our favorite run ins with him and the jokes and pranks he used to play. Even now, when visiting my nan, I find myself cracking those same jokes and it genuinely pleases me that she still finds them funny.
My only regret is that my grandad isn’t able to read the things I write here and elsewhere online, I reckon he’d enjoy them immensely! (He’d even like the gaming ones, he once got really into watching us play Duke Nukem: Time to Kill round his one school holidays!)
Though the man may no longer be around us, his legacy lives on and every article I write is, in its way, a little homage to a great man.
The original post from Normal Happening can be found here: