The hardest goodbye

12 months ago today I went to see my granddad. We sat and chatted, I told him about work and the dogs and other bits and bobs. When I was leaving I gave him a hug, told him I loved him and started to cry. He told me not to worry and he’d be ok. He smiled a big beaming smile and gave me the double thumbs up like he always did to say he was ok. I told him to take care and said goodbye and went home.

That was our goodbye. I had a feeling it was which is why I said what I did. Granddad died the next day on my nans 80th birthday. I’m convinced he waited for then so he could be there for it.

Jimbo was the best. I’m slightly bias I know, but he was. Ask anyone in the family. His only fault that I knew of was that he was a daily mail reader…. he used to save the papers and clippings of stories if they had any relevance to you or if he thought you’d be interested in them. There was never a shortage of stuff for me because of my job. One of the best things about Granddad was genuinely interested in knowing stuff about you, He’d sit and listen to you and take in all the detail and then worry about it for you too. He was a worrier. He worried over everything. We couldn’t tell him in advance of things like my sister showjumping because he’d worry about that.

I find myself doing stuff now and thinking “if granddad could see me now he’d go mad” like when I decided to cut the grass in my garden with a strimmer (I had no lawn mower, in my bikini with my converse on and no eye protection. I used 3 extension leads piggybacked onto each other. When I got hit by a stone and the dogs tried to join in and attack the strimmer to “save me” I remember thinking granddad wouldn’t like this its something I wouldn’t of told him all the detail of.

Or the time I was painting my landing. I used his old step ladders, fashioned a platform and climbed up. I remember looking down thinking I’m pretty sure granddad wouldn’t approve of this…

Or the time where I put up my Ikea wardrobe doors on my own. Note to people doing this alone. Don’t. They’re ducking heavy and hard work. I had to use a stack of books to help me keep them at the right height as I climbed up and down my office swivel chair trying to use a drill to screw the hinges in. As I pressed onto screws the chair kept twisting around. That was hard work and I got dizzy. I did it all though. And I’d like to point out They’re still up!! I remember thinking after that I wish I could tell granddad what I’d done. He’d be really impressed.

When I got my permanent job as much as I was happy I was sad too because I couldn’t go round and tell him. The fact I’m back doing my masters too I can’t let him know about that either. I forget sometimes and I think “ooo I can’t wait to tell him” and then I realise he’s not here. But I tell him anyway. Just in case he’s listening.

The last Christmas we all had together was at nan and granddads. Granddad couldn’t come down stairs and we didn’t want him to feel left out so we got and iPad and he used his to FaceTime us from his bed. We passed it around the room all chatting as we ate and then put him on the mantelpiece so he could see everyone. He was like our very own Holly watching us from the screen (red dwarf fans will know what I mean by that). That memory will aways make me smile. Us all together enjoying ourselves with him there too. It was perfect.

As head grandchild I wrote a eulogy for his funeral. It took my ages to get it right and this what I said about our wonderful Jimbo…


As head grandchild I have been asked to say a few things about granddad.

I have so many wonderful memories of him and I just wanted to share a few of them with you all.

I use to go to Ireland with Nannie and granddad from the age of about 6ish. Each summer and easter holiday we use to get the ferry over. Now one thing you will all know about Jimbo is that he was a cautious man, health and safety executive of the family and eternal worrier. Which meant that the car was always packed up at least one night prior to leaving and that if the boat was due to sail at 9am we had to be there an hour earlier for boarding. This mean we left Ridley drive at about 400am. Holyhead is 2 hours away. we would be there for 630am for a 9 sailing. Now I’m not sure how many of you have ever said from Holyhead but 20 years ago there wasn’t that much to do there! one year we arrived at Dublin nice and early as usual and parked up and watched the boats sailing out. However granddad had got his times wrong, the boat we watched leave was the one we should have been on. needless to say that never happened again!

I drove there once and only once. granddad was so nervous for me getting there I got a full debrief when I arrived to make suer i had followed his instructions to the letter. I daren’t tell him i took the wrong turn out of the docks and drove around in circles until i accidentally ended up on the correct road!

Now as a crane driver all of his life granddad was never a fast driver, slow and steady was his pace. So imagine our shock when he received a speeding fine and points on his licence! When asked what happened Granddad said ‘well he was slowing down and i just over took him’

Grandad loved to read the paper. The daily Mail especially. If it wasn’t in there it wasn’t newsworthy or correct according to granddad. He use to save pages to show me anything to to with health related stories when I went round. And in the daily mail there were always a few of those!

We use to share what we called ‘Jimbo quotes’ with each other. These were little bits of wisdom only granddad would say. on his wood burner fire in Ireland and he was heard saying ‘you know i don’t really like it that much because you cant turn it down’ on large chain store ‘let me tell you now – stay away from Tesco, bloody rubbish’ And as for one way systems and directions don’t even get him started on those!

Before he got ill granddad always use to be pottering in the garage or fixing something when I came to see him. He us to wear a blue coverall when he was pottering always reminded me of a train driver for some reason

Granddad loved all of his grandchildren so much and he was so proud of all of us. He told me a few weeks ago that he was so lucky to have a family like us, he told me he was blessed and that he’d lived a good life and that he couldn’t ask for anything more. And he’s right, he got to 82 without his GP even knowing his name!

My wonderful kind Grandad Jim, with those grey eyes, kind smile and white curly hair. He was the first to praise you and let you know how proud he was of you.

As you all know granddad was very risk adverse and was very vocal about letting you know his concerns so we all knew we could only tell him selected information as not to worry him. Madeline and Jimbo shared a love for horses and they chatted for hours about everything about them except the part that included Maddi riding or jumping them. When I was younger I drove and old car to Ireland and although I got lost on the way I never mentioned it to Grandad, just told him we’d had a wonderful drive down and all was ok. I got the bus from then onwards because I never wanted him to know I’d got lost or worry like that again!

one thing that always remind me of granddad and I know the cousins share this too is the symbol of a Harp, not just because of him being Irish but because of the tattoo on his forearm. For someone so risk adverse to have a tattoo on his arm where everyone could see it makes me smile, he mustn’t of always been so cautious!

Granddad was one of those wonderful people that when you spoke to him for hours he would actually listen to you and also remember all of it and then pick it up next time. He often kept cuttings from papers on subjects you’d previously shared and loved to go through them with you

A few weeks before he died he told me he felt lucky to have a family like us, he was blessed and he had had a good life and couldn’t have had a better one. Especially as he’d got to 80 before the GP got familiar with his name.

We love you so much granddad and you will be missed by all. But how lucky am I to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard


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