19 Feb 2014

Butter Ball

My Grandad passed away on Valentine's Day.  He had been unwell for quite some time, but it doesn't make it hurt any less.  I also think that I'm more upset about his passing because now both my NZ grandparents have passed and visiting home will never be the same again.

I wanted to be there so much today, more so because my whole family was gathered together in one place and that seldom happens these days, especially as my family lives here in Australia.  But I couldn't make it to the funeral, as I have explained here but in my absence I wrote something to read out.  To make it sound more like me, my wonderful sister read it out.

I probably wouldn't have been able to get through it anyway...

When my Mum asked me to help put something together about my Grandad, and shared some of her stories, I didn’t really know where to start.  I have never written for a funeral before, and I don’t know my Grandad like she knows him, but I will try to do him justice. 

Allan, Dad, Grandad, Butterball… these are all names that I knew my grandfather by, though obviously he was Grandad to me.  He called me Jess.  And when I was younger, Miss Piggy. He would tease us kids mercilessly.  Cheeky bugger. 

Grandad and I in the garden 
When I think of my Grandad I think of his strawberry patch (he was right about Miss Piggy!), cricket on the TV, butter beans, his wonderful garden, doing crosswords in his chair then ‘resting’ his eyes and eventually snoring up a storm, his morning cockatoo hair, roman sandals, polo shirts, porridge in the microwave set up for the next day, fishing, the bach, endless cups of tea in that giant white tea cup, Grannie and him side by side in their recliners, cream buns from Whangamata, the Cozzie Club, pulling his car out of the garage, spinning a yarn, the word ‘joker’ to describe someone…

He was the epitome of Grandparentness.  He was tough, but fair, and always willing to show us how to do something the right way.  He also got a kick out of poking you in the ribs, both sides, well into adulthood, despite your insistence to stop. 

He always had a story to tell, a factoid to share, and my Mum commented that he was always running into someone he knew whenever they went out.  I guess when you live in the same house for 60 years you get to know your community, which he was so proud to be a part of. 

Mum asked me to share a few things about her Dad with you.  We all know that he loved his garden, but he especially loved his flowers for his Mum, the sweet pea.  They grew down the back at 4 Sturges, near the chook pen, on a trellis.  He was especially good at growing beans and new potatoes and these were always a welcome addition to the family meal. 

He loved his role in the St Joseph’s scout troop and went on many camping and jamboree expeditions as their Scout Master. 

He loved to tell a story, share his exploits, and show you the places he’d visited.  He reveled in historical facts and loved to know the historical significance of many places near and far.  Talking about the old days in Thames and Otahuhu were some of his favourite pastimes and he had a wealth of knowledge about St Joseph’s and the place where he raised his family.  We were stoked to see him in the newspaper last year talking about his days at St Joseph.  Media superstar! 

First and foremost, he was a family man, and he loved having his children and grandchildren around him.  He enjoyed family get togethers and loved the opportunity to have a chin wag and enjoy a cold one or a sneaky Bundy rum (ask Mum about their big night on the Bundy not so many years ago!).  He was such a proud Father, Grand Father and Great Grand Father and he would always greet us with a hug, a kiss and poke in the ribs, for good measure. 

Mushroom and Grandad
Most of all, he loved Yvonne and was not the same without her by his side.  We all noticed that some of twinkle disappeared from his baby blues when she passed on 3 years ago.  They were like peas in a pod. 

I wish that I’d been a better granddaughter, I wish I had sent more cards, letters, photographs...  I wish for a lot of things.  I’m so grateful that I got to see him one last time in November and my son got to meet his Great Grandfather and I got to say goodbye.  Whilst I have shed many tears writing this, I’m happy that his suffering has come to an end and he has at last found peace.  I hope that he and Grannie are together, drinking cups of tea and sitting side by side once again.  Rest In Peace old man.   We love you xoxo