Nothing can ever prepare you for bad news, even if you know it is coming, nothing can prepare you for the almighty Thor hammer blow that will rain down on you. There’s no amount of words, Ben & Jerry’s, or retail therapy that could distract you from knowing that at any minute that blow is going to strike down so heavy on to you that you think you may crumble into a thousand pieces.
Over this past summer my greatest friend, confidant, father figure and grandfather started to get a little under the weather, it started with finding him collapsed in the street having been missing for a number of hours caused by a UTI, then again a few months later on his back having been led there for over 24 hours after a fall. And with each UTI weight loss followed, his memory deteriorated and so too his ability to hold meaningful conversation. We were offered small glimpses of the man he was in between these episodes and his laugh that brings me so much joy would echo through the air and I would feel like I was home.
But last week after a number of tests and some pretty rapid deterioration this wonderful man was told he had cancer. And we were told it was terminal and had spread so much so that it could be a matter of weeks at best months, as well as having Alzheimer’s. Here came the Thor hammer.
Now my grandfather is 84, he has lived a wonderfully full life but to me age and life doesn’t factor, yes of course it is a wonder that he has lived this long and we are incredibly lucky, I mean this man smoked and drank with the best of them. But when it comes to it, he still means the world to me and my world has pivoted around his since I was a child, I even moved 10 minutes away from him when I returned to Bristol this spring so I could spend as much time with him as possible. For you see he is my greatest love.
I have dozens of photos with him, memories of doing stupid things, singing Celine Dion or Jennifer Rush ‘The Power of Love’ on his boat and other power ballads as exaggerated as possible, sunbathing on his boat roof with friends as a teen, crying on him when relationships ended, getting a rollicking for being absolutely diabolical with money and living on beans on toast constantly. Yet my fondest memories are not the doing of things, or gifts but it will always be the telephone sign offs, we probably said good bye to each other in a dozen different voices, a hundred times until one of us was laughing so much we’d have to hang up.
I am telling you about him in the past tense not because he has passed away, but because the man I have known my entire life is gradually slipping away, the man I could discuss boys with and sing Frank Sinatra songs at the top of my voice with has died. And I am reminded of Four Weddings and a Funeral when John Hannah reads ‘stop all the clocks’ because I truly wish they would, just for a while.
What is most important is that I will be eternally grateful to this man for keeping me above water despite him not knowing about my illness, he just always knew the right things to say. And I will love him forever, so whenever he decides it is time to go I know that this man was loved unconditionally by so many and his laugh and his love will live on in my heart and the heart of my family forever.