A Granddaughter’s Grief

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We were not taken by surprise
It was expected, really
Every visit over recent years, treasured
Knowing every goodbye might be the last

The words of wisdom had been imparted
The family stories told, wonderfully, many times over
“It’s all yours now, Pen” he’d said, Christmas before last
A handover of sorts

He had had a good life
Close enough to 87 to smell the birthday cake baking in the oven
A very respectable innings, by anyone’s reckoning
Certainly by his

“It wasn’t meant to be like this” he said, of his twilight years
His mind as sharp as ever, his humour a shining light
Frustrated by a body becoming progressively more frail
He was ready to go

And, in the end, a good death
At home, after a cuppa, in the sunshine
Out checking the rain gauge
A country lad to the very end

And yet – when the call came
“It’s Grandpa… he’s passed away”
The world ripped apart and put back together not-quite-right
The loss, unexpected and devastating

Self-defense kicked in quickly
Being glad, in a way, for him
Logic and reason exerted their claim
Triumphing over the chaos of emotion

Still, at times, the tears come with force
An echo of my mother’s eyes, my cousins’ words
Triggered by a happy memory, or his smile in a photo
Or by confronting, whole-mindedly the thought of What We No Longer Have

What right have I, to be so upset?
My loss is not so great as that of many others
Those who’ve lost fathers, husbands, sons, brothers
Surely they have more right to their tears than I

And yet what right have I, to be so happy?
To find joy in the sunset, excitement in work, delight in new friends?
To wear bright colours and laugh out loud
When he never will again

But, this is my grief and it fits me well
Its burden shared, diminished, gathered up and passed around
Neatly locked up at the back of the mind
Then spilling forth, insistent, to wake me from sleep

For of all the grandpas in the world, he was the best
And of all the grandchildren that ever lived, we were the most special
Taught how to crack stock whips and drive motorcars
and to work hard at being the very best people that we could be

He was the greatest man I ever knew
My hero for as long as I can remember
I only hope he knew he was loved beyond words
And that his gifts to the world live on forever in us

RIP Grandpa x

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