My grandfather used to race midget race cars.
He cycled competetively.
He was a mechanic.
He was a bus driver. At one stage, and he built an entire bus.
He ran the car dealership, which at one time or another, employed my mother and all of her siblings.
He was the mayor of the small South Australian country town, from which my family hails.
He had big, rough, calloused hands. Working man’s hands.
He wore his hair parted to one side.
He used to sit in the evenings to “watch the nooos”.
He lit up my childhood, he was never anything but joy and fun. He used to delight us all with ‘naughty’ rhymes. My favourite of these being:
“Hey diddle diddle the cat did a piddle in the middle of the dining room floor”
Almost, five years ago, three days after my wedding to Beefcake, he suffered a heart attack. We thought we would lose him and I drove, with my mother and sister, the two-and-a-half tearfilled hours from Adelaide to be by his bedside. Ah, but what a tough old bugger he is.
These last few years have seen Alzheimer’s take him, slowly, steadily. When we planned to move overseas I made the effort to spend time with him before we left. I was sure he would be gone before we came back.
I came back heavily pregnant, I have been caring for our new baby, who he has not even met.
I have pushed my feelings for him to the back. To a small corner of my soul, until I had time to deal with them again. I’ve been planning to make time to go and see him. I just haven’t had the energy to dredge up all of the grief that I feel. I have been selfish and kept away. I haven’t been able to bring myself to go there. To have to look into my Nana’s eyes and share her grief.
My mother called this evening. He has pneumonia again. They are giving him morphene. They are not taking life-saving measures. Everyone agrees it is time to let him go.
He does not know who I am, who any of us are. He does not know who he is.
I know it will not give me any more peace to see him. I know it is just not practical to go there, my family need me here.
Tonight, I will keep a watch from here.
I will light a candle and keep watch as his light fades.