I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be writing this but nothing lasts forever and the circle of life really isn’t very big at all.
Grandad was one of those men who was always there, even when he wasn’t. The milk jug would be on the table waiting for him to come in for his morning tea. Then the butter for his spuds along with the salt & pepper and when those were cleared away, the milk jug was back again for the three o clock tea.
He was a farmer, my Grandad, up with the birds 365 days of the year for most of his life. He loved it, it was him. We lived beside his farm, every morning he would be in the field behind our house with his sheepdog rounding up the sheep, giving a wave if he saw us at the window, shouting good morning if my Mam was hanging the clothes on the line or my brother was feeding the dog. It was inevitable that every dog we ever owned became an honorary sheep dog under his guidance too. There was always something comical about watching a terrier or a Jack Russell out with Grandad and the sheep dogs, working away with them. There was one dog who would go left when all the sheep and the sheep-dogs would go right, ‘There’s always one’ Grandad would say.
Grandad was an incredibly proud man; took pride in his work, pride in his appearance and was proud of his family. He was always sharply dressed, be it going to town, the cattle mart or even on the farm, he had his shirt, tie, and sports coat. Only he could go to the Mart like a new pin and come home the same. And as anyone who ever saw him knew, there wouldn’t be a hair out of place either!
We were very privileged to have the opportunity to grow up with Grandad, and Nana too of course. We saw them every day, they were a big part of our lives. As time went on his fields became smaller as his family built their homes on the land, a very traditional act in the Irish countryside, and a testament to how proud he was of his family, they’re all close by him, and as a lot of his grandchildren have moved away, the door to Nana and Grandad’s home has always remained open for us all.
As age caught up with him along with ill health the farm had to take a back seat but for as long as he could Grandad was still up and out every day. The outdoors, the land, his animals; these were his things, this was his life and it was very difficult for him to not be able to do those things and enjoy those things anymore.
He never, ever gave up his fight though, for there was also his home and his family. His face would light up when we’d pay him a visit. When he smiled, that smile would reach his eyes and that much-loved twinkle would appear. If we brought his great grandchildren he was just thrilled, his day was made. He was very much a home bird, his heart firmly planted there in his castle.
As we sat with Grandad over his last few days, we shared many fond memories and chatted about his many traits. I said during his last night, if there was one word I would use to describe him, it’s FIERCE! His fierce love for his wife, my Nana, his fierce loyalty to his family and friends, the fierce bravery he showed throughout his illness, the fierce strength & dignity he displayed in his final days. (And let’s not forget how fierce he was if you crossed him!)
Sleep well Grandad, the world was a better place with you in it and it won’t be the same without you
A limb has fallen from the family tree,
I keep hearing a voice that says, ‘Grieve not for me.
Remember the best times, the laughter, the song.
The Good life I lived while I was strong’