I don’t know why but I’ve been thinking about my grandad a lot lately. I was 11 when he died and I was devastated. It was probably one of the most profound things that has ever happened to me. I’m 42 now and still, I feel it. Not as deep or as intense as when it first happened but, even after thirty-one years, the grief is still real.
Recently, I saw a quote by Jamie Anderson on Pinterest that hit me in the feels:
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot…Grief is just love with no place to go.”
Anyway, here’s a little memory of my grandad. He couldn’t talk or walk properly because he’d had several strokes but still, he was my hero.
The Red Leather Chair
The smell of frying bacon drifted in from the kitchen and my stomach groaned in anticipation. Grandad looked at me with his smiling blue eyes, his thick white eyebrows arched high above his black glasses.
‘Sorry,’ I giggled, shrugging my shoulders, ‘had no breakfast this morning.’
‘Uh,’ he replied, with a shake of his head, a gentle smile erupting on his face as my stomach complained again. He pointed to the telly with a crooked finger and then to his ears. ‘Uh-uh.’
I flashed him a cheeky smile and shrugged again.
Shep, my Grandad’s long-haired collie, stirred in the seat beside me. He yawned loudly, stretching out and laying his head on my lap as I wrapped my hands in his glossy coat and turned my head towards the telly just as it was announced by the heavily bearded commentator that Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy were due in the ring.
Grandad shifted forward to the edge of his seat, his walking stick clattering to the floor as he unbuttoned his shirt sleeves and rolled them up past his wrinkly elbows in preparation for the fight.
‘Fred, do you want sauce in your bacon?’ shouted Nan from the kitchen, but Grandad was oblivious to it all; he’d only got eyes and ears for that small black and white telly.
Shep leapt from the sofa, dashing behind it as my Grandad’s red leather chair began to dance around the room, the wood and leather creaking and straining under his weight, his grunting harsh but still with lashings of warmth, becoming louder as he lost his mind to the wrestling, to his life as a boxer in the army.
I could never tell anyone who won any of those fights we watched on that battered telly on the Saturday dinner-times we spent together; I was far too engrossed in Grandad’s face to care. The strokes had robbed him of many things; his speech, the ability to walk or eat independently, but as we sat there I became lost in the sparkle in his eyes and the stories that had become etched in his wrinkles. It was during these times that I could see my Grandad was still a man and was still truly alive.
But the red leather chair sits empty now; still and lifeless like the room in which it sits. His grey trilby is still perched at an angle at the back of it, his walking stick abandoned on the floor. The smell of cigars lingers in the air along with the smell of his hard-earned sweat. But now the warmth has disappeared and a numbing coldness is seeping into the room through the cracks, filling me with emptiness.