Sadly, neither of my grandfathers are alive. My father's father (Granddad) died shortly before my 5th birthday, and my mother's father (Poppa) died in 2006.
Because I was so young when Granddad died, I don't remember much of him. I remember he was very tall (as were/are his five sons), but I don't remember him talking much, or being particularly affectionate. My Daddy says that he had Alzheimer's, and as it progressed he got quite aggressive, so I suppose our contact was limited. I do remember that we weren't allowed to go to the funeral, because Mum didn't think we were old enough to understand. Clearly, I was, because I was upset I couldn't go!
Poppa was very different to Granddad. He was very involved in our lives and very affectionate. Poppa was a bit of a joker and loved playing with his grandchildren and later, his great-grandchildren. He played lawn bowls and tenpin bowls and was active in his local Cossie Club*. He loved fishing and being at my parents' beach house. Poppa died a couple of days before ANZAC Day 2006. Sadly, I wasn't able to be in NZ at the end. I saw him at Christmas 2005, when he was still fairly spry. He had cancer. My whole family banded together to support him and Nana, doing renovations to their house, staying at the Hospice he was in, and helping to look after him. At his funeral, there were so many people the chapel couldn't hold us all - there were people spilling out onto the lawn, even though it had been raining. There were a lot of great-grandchildren there too. I was very proud to be one of the casket bearers and able to be involved. Afterwards, as the hearse drove from the chapel, all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren lined the little road with helium balloons, and let go of the balloons as he was driven past. It was a really sweet tribute and got everyone involved, and was a way for the little ones to understand about "letting go".
Even though I didn't know my Granddad very well, I still miss him. I miss both my grandfathers very much. I teared up while I was writing this. I be my Mum cries when she reads it. I'm sorry I made you cry, Mum.
This post is part of my Big50 blogging challenge series.
* I was trying to find a link to give you non-NZers about Cossie Clubs but I can't find anything generic. They seem to be a uniquely NZ thing. They're kind of like RSLs or RSAs, or, I don't know what the US equivalent would be...Think of a community centre that is mainly for older people and serves pub food and alcohol and you have a general idea.