My grandad was an extremely generous, humble and loving man. We had to say goodbye to him yesterday, and though it was very sad, it really was a celebration of a wonderful man who influenced many throughout his 95 years. The number of people there was particularly incredible for a man of his age, and showed, I think, how loved he was.
Grandad quite simply took pleasure in everything about life. He had by no means had the easiest of lives, one of the most difficult periods being when he was captured at war, and held in a prisoner of war camp for 3 years. In the reading given at the service yesterday, it said how incredible it was for someone to come through all of that and not have a shred of bitterness. I completely agree, but knowing my grandad, I am not surprised.
I loved listening to my grandad's stories. He would often talk about his life when he came home from the war, was reunited with my gran, and lived in a little caravan which he bought with all the money he had. He said those were some of the happiest years of his life, because he was reunited with my gran, and they were both safe and well, and able to start a family. Family meant more to grandad than anything else in the world.
My grandad never stopped being facinated in life, and all that it had to offer. He was still going to literature classes at the age of 90, and loved huge Everests of literature such as Pepy's Diaries and War and Peace. He was so knowledgeable; I remember phoning him when I was at university, and telling him about the book I was studying (Candide). He listened with great interest as I told him my thoughts on it all, before quoting the final line of the book, beautifully, and off by heart. He was so humble, that I never even knew till yesterday, that he had been awarded a BEM.
One of my favourite memories is sitting at a pub in Derbyshire with him and A, and he picked up the OAP menu saying "isn't that lovely that they give the old folk a special offer." He was about 87 at the time. One Christmas, we were at his house, arguing about who was number one at the time, and he interjected with "no it's actually the Spice Girls" which was, of course, correct.
The biggest thing that my grandad taught me is that you can be completely satisfied with your lot, and yet still push yourself to better yourself, to learn and achieve more, and to explore the world in greater detail. It seems like two very opposing points of view, but he managed to do them both. He wanted for nothing, except for his family to be happy and thrive, and I've lost count of the number of times I heard him say "I'm a lucky man". Truth be told, I think we were the lucky ones.
"I feel that I cannot vanish, since nothing vanishes in this world, but that I shall always exist and always have existed." - Leo Tolstoy