I am fortunate enough to have a loving, caring family that are definitely good at keeping you super grounded, but my focus today is on the last grandfather i have left.
Today is my grandfathers birthday, but in our family he is called ‘Grumps’, i don’t think his name actually has anything to do with the fact that majority of the time he is ranting about an injustice in politics or the fact there is no more chocolate hobnobs in the biscuit tin, but is it very fitting to him.
None the less he is 87 years young today and with his love of potatoes, alcohol and loathing of Australian wine, he never fails to have everyone in stitches. Behind his rudeness and unsubtle snobbery he really is the funniest old dude i have ever had the privilege of knowing and has me and my brother in hysterics.
Grumps is slowly becoming more and more slow, his memory is atrocious and my Nanna has a hard time putting up with his demands, but like any old school wife, she attends to his every whim, occasionally telling him to shut up or living in fear she is going to have to ask one of us to fix the computer, that Grumps has broke for 100th time.
I find his decline in health so upsetting sometimes and having a disability myself that has taken away so much from me in the respect of independence, socialising and a career. I completely empthathise with him when he has a down day because he can’t recall a memory, get the words out when he is trying to explain something or his hands won’t move correctly. And considering the life that he has had, it must be so hard to now effectively sit for 80% of the week at home with a brain that resembles swiss cheese.
He was born into a fairly big family in the East end of London in 1930 and money was scarce in the household, only living in the bottom quarters of the house, renting out the rest to lodgers for an extra income. His father was quite the character and shaped his sense of humour early on by doing things like, knocking on a wealthy persons house in the West End and asking if they could use their toilet. In true form the West-ender said no (probably a Tory). So Grump’s Dad relieved himself through their letterbox.
I have heard countless stories of his childhood, from ‘Peche’ who was pointed out in class for having a bug in his hair, ‘Hoppy Francis’ who was a one legged, debt collector and tales of WW2. Sadly his father who ironically survived WW1, laying cable on the front line was killed walking to the pub during WW2. War was a common achievement in his family with Uncles and Brothers who fought to defend our country and it has a big place in my Grumps’ heart, which has been passed down to my 7 yr old daughter.
Grumps went on to achieve some truly amazing things in his career. He refereed for Abe Sapestein (the founder of the American Basketball League and owner of the Harlem GlobeTrotters) at the Empire Pool Hall at Wembley for the Harlem Globetrotters vs Boston Celtics, he was Mayor of St.Albans, played a big role in the Liberal Democrats and was a teacher (in which he taught Suggs from Madness).
He married my Nanna and had 4 sons, he continued to torture them for years to come with hideous jobs that now days would be more than frowned upon. My dad told meabout the time he was straddling the apex of the roof, fixing it (probably age 15, possibly younger) . When he shouted down to my Grumps who had got bored and was nowhere to be seen (gone to get a cuppa)! So to get down from the two storey house, my dad dangled to find his footing (as the ladder didn’t reach) and amazingly was unscathed.
Now i think due to my Grumps’ dry, inappropriate sense of humour that was passed down to my Dad, is definitely the reason I have a sometimes rude, inappropriate disposition that only i find funny. As a grandchild when you ask your Grumps something like, ‘What can i do?’ you don’t expect ‘Go play on the motorway’ or ‘think of something you want to do…then don’t do it’. It was all in jest obviously because still to this day i adore my Grumps and his banter.
Celebrating his birthday today, i felt such gratitude that i have still have Grumps around and sad for people who do not have what i have and sad that other people don’t make the most of their old’s.
Your Grandparents are who made your parents, who they are and have shaped your life. I know they might not be into the latest grime scene, high street fashion or understand why you wear such short skirts and dye your hair purple (cause mine never has). But there from a completely different era and getting old is difficult, it doesn’t take much too visit them sometimes and ask them about when they were younger, you never know they might surprise you and have you in stitches.
Make the most of them, like i do my Grumps.