Here are the top 5 things I learned from him, as a student in life.
|Grandad in his favourite chair :D|
1. Straight, Clean, Lines
My Grandad was a gardener. He loved to make flower beds, veg patches and spent a lot of time nurturing plants from seed in his greenhouse.
I used to spend a lot of time in the garden with him - our relationship was built on potting up, watering tomato plants and picking strawberries and sweet-peas.
One thing we used to do together, which took a long time, was cut the grass.
He used to work for the city parks department, so knew a thing or two about maintaining a good lawn. He'd mow the lawn and I would rake the sheared grass and put it onto the tarpaulin. And when we were finished, we would do the most important job of all; clip the edges.
To do this, he would get out of his shed two pairs of very odd-looking shears with long handles (lawn edge-trimmers), hand a set to me, and we would stand up, shearing the edges, going all the way around the circle of the garden until we were done. He was obviously quicker and better at it than me, so we'd work clockwise and anti-clockwise and meet in the middle.
'Why do we have to do this?' I'd ask.
And quite simply, his reply was,
'Because, it doesn't matter how well you cut the grass - if the edges are messy you might as well have not bothered'
Basically the message was - if you are going to do a job, do it properly. Don't clean the kitchen without washing the floor and getting into the corners. Don't wash the car without hoovering the insides.
He did this in every job he did - cutting the hedges, washing the dishes, potting up plants, turping the fences - everything was slow, methodical and always finished in it's entirety. No slapdash solutions.
He was right. You can do a job or you can do it well. And it always feels - and looks - better when you do it well.
Aim for straight, clean lines and everything looks better.
2. If you want something, work for it
My Grandad was a war veteran of WW2. He had lost an eye and was massively injured at such a young age and sent to a hospital in England to get some pretty major plastic surgery to reconstruct his face and body, which at the time was pioneering stuff.
After he recuperated and came home, you can imagine the amount of work he had to do, not only to start to live a normal-ish life again, but how he had to prove himself in order to gain employment and figure amongst his peers.
He worked like a dog, always in very physical jobs like grave-digging, gardening for the council and building and roof work.
Even in retirement he worked damn hard. He made his own life and his own happiness. And he passed that on to me and my sister - he made sure to involve us with all the hard tasks like waxing the car by hand with turtle Wax, sweeping and scraping the patio and stringing and netting the vegetable beds. He knew there was reward in graft - his super-strong work ethic is the reason I need to be working all the time today! And trying the best in everything I do.
You reap what you sow.
3.Enjoy the present and communicate
Sadly, my Grandad spent a lot of time very very ill with the devastating condition, Clinical Depression.
We lost him to the dark spaces in his mind, which came to get him kinda suddenly one day - although the signs may have been there for a long time before. I was too young to remember.
I imagine as a young man of the war he had seen a lot. That there were things he couldn't say or communicate.
But his lesson to us is to enjoy the here and now - you never know what is around the corner. You never know what might take you down.
And always communicate your feelings. Don't let them sneak up on you one day and steal you away.
4. Children are very special
Grandad spent so much time with us as kids, playing with us, teaching us new games and helping with our homework.
If there was a maths problem I couldn't do, he was there to help solve it in a straightforward way.
If I came to him with my football, he'd drop what he was doing and play a game with us that would last for hours.
He taught me how to play Gin Rummy and how to pick Football Pools.
We'd spend hours playing dominos.
My Grandad always had time for us, always listened and always stuck up for us - trying to see life from our point of view.
He knew children were special and that childhood was very special and he was a great investor in that for my sister and I.
5. Live And Let Live
It was cool to collect worms, but we always, always put them back in the ground.
We put nets over the strawberries but always made sure they were sealed and ALWAYS checked for any birds which may have got stuck. And always freed them as quickly and as carefully as possible.
We spent hours watching the birds in the garden after my Nana had fed them, but always watched quietly when a sparrowhawk came to hunt some of the birds - they have to eat too.
We were always very careful when getting our bikes in and out of the shed because of the bees that lived underneath. No matter how worried we were about them, we were never stung. We learned not to bother the bees and they never ever bothered us.
Thank you to my lovely, amazing Grandad. We still miss you so much.