My Grandfather was in the merchant navy for a time. He had travelled to Argentina and had visited the slaughterhouses. He had somehow managed to learn the phrase,
“Buenos Noches Ma Vida.”
He had told me of crossing the equator and the ceremony to King Neptune they used to perform in those days..
He was in The Royal Flying Corps in WW1. I have a picture of him sitting in the cockpit of a plane. He never flew in the planes (He was probably too young).but they had allowed him to sit in the cockpit to pose for a photo. I have the photo and sometimes ponder what happened to the other young men in the photo.
Granddad’s father had died when he was very young. My Great Grandmother had managed to raise her four children on her own. My mother was very close to her Grandmother and had used to spend a lot of time with her. My family had been in the same little Hampshire village for 100 plus years, yet when I had visited the children and I had been treated like outsiders. We had posed for a photo outside my Great grandmother’s house. Fortunately a lovely lady had befriended us and helped me find it. I also bought a book about the village from WW2 thinking it might be of interest. I had given a copy to my mum. She had sat there poring over it avidly. I believe she had been crying, although she would never admit that. Turns out she had found a picture of herself in it at I think a VE day party and one of my grandfather who was in the home guard. I was once told of how an unexploded bomb had landed right behind their house. I seem to remember they had all been evacuated whilst it had been defused. Mum had told me she used to hide under the kitchen table with a bowl during air raids at times, as she had used to vomit with fear.
Granddad was first and foremost a Cockney. He would use rhyming slang and sit there happily eating bags of shrimp. He had loved salt and vinegar chips/crisps, even though they had made his eyes water. His great grandchildren love them too.
He would love to slurp everything . I adored him for it. I remember the night granddad died like it was yesterday. I recall hearing my mother scream and drop the phone. I remember my grandmother’s quiet tears. I think it was the saddest thing I had ever seen. She had lived with us for a while. We had shared a room. It is a very happy memory for me. We would try to grow our fingernails together. I would raid her blush. I don’t know if anybody had noticed my cheeks suddenly getting pinker.
Nan and granddad both loved to play cards. I loved their relationship. I knew they had had their.issues early on in their marriage( I gather granddad had used to like his drink.Nan had once chucked a pillow to him to sleep.outside. However to me that was an act of love. If you love someone you do.not let them drink themselves into oblivion, night after night. He hardly drank at all in his old age. My image of them will always be of the two of them quietly playing cards together every evening. I would play with them too at times. They would have a small kitty. Many times I went home from my grandparents with extra money. Nana and I played cards all the time. She was very serious about her cards. She was outraged when she had played with somebody who had cheated.
I had the best grandparents anybody could wish for. I had sat by my grandmother as she lay dying. I don’t know if she knew I was there but I was crying. A complete stranger had walked into the room and offered me words of comfort. These days I wonder whether they were an angel.
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