When Family Move Abroad (farewell Grandad T.)

Last week my grandad died. It was quite a shocker really; no one was expecting it and my Dad’s initial reaction upon hearing the news was- ‘really??’ Because he couldn’t actually believe it. But, obviously it wasn’t a tasteless prank, it was an actual real thing that really truly happened. It was sad, and difficult and I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

My grandad was a good’n. We used to go and visit him as children at the farm in Kent that he lived on; he’d supply us with lemon squash and chocolate digestives, and the highlight of each visit was being allowed to sit and spin around in his office chair, which looked kind of like the one in Mastermind, so you always felt very important and authoritative in it. He always kept a tin of travel sweets in the glove compartment of his car, and was partial to wearing leather driving gloves when using a steering wheel. Always good to have the right equipment. One year we went to see him play Abanazaer in the village pantomime, but I saw through that disguise of his; that wasn’t a baddy, that was my grandad. He liked to make a home video, did my grandad, but he was the sort of man who didn’t just like to video family occasions and moments- he would also video his journeys through the village from the dashboard of his car, or his birdbath in he garden, with a running commentary throughout. The type of stuff most people would not find interesting at all, but this was not a problem for Grandad T! You could say he’d discovered vlogging early.

After he and my Nan separated, he moved to Lanzarote with his partner. Other baffled family members speculated that he would have no friends, he’d miss his family in England, or he’d get lonely and bored after a while. But all I’m saying is, life is for living you guys! You should go wherever you bloody well want to, not stay put simply because you feel obliged. I’m glad he got to be where he wanted to be.

I went to visit him and I proper loved it. He blu-tacked a sign to his front door- “GRANDAD LIVES HERE” written in black marker on an A4 sheet of paper- so that I’d be able to find their apartment, even though I was in my twenties by then and staying only a few doors up the road from him. He took me to meet his friends, and even the waitresses in the cafe he strolled to every morning to get his leche leche coffee, proudly declaring to each new face-  “This is my eldest grandaughter!”

I’m really sad he’s gone.

The distance meant that none of us could go to the funeral, something I really struggled with at first. But he said to my dad once- “when I pop my clogs, don’t come all the way out here just for a funeral. I’d rather you came out when I was alive!” I realised after a while that these were pretty wise words, actually. Good one, Grandad!

Life is a gift. And the people in your life are a gift.

Make the most of the moments you have with them.

I don’t know about you but sometimes it’s a bit too easy for me to get swamped in work and day-to-day problems and forget that I’m only here on this planet with these people for a little while, so I might as well make the most of it! I wish I had seen my grandad one more time, but I will treasure the memories I have of him.

The last time I saw my grandad, he was smiling and waving as I walked through into departures at Arrecife airport, the doors sliding closed behind me. And he was gone. That is a happy memory, and one that I’ll hold onto forever.


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