Thursday, August 09, 2007

See ya Paddy...

My grandfather died a couple of weeks ago. He got hit with pneumonia pretty hard ( and he'd already had it earlier in the month ) and he pretty much just checked out very suddenly.

It's all very sad. He was the only grandfather I had - my Italian grandfather died with my dad was just a kid, so I never knew anything about him.

I've been trying to think of the things that really stood out for me in his time on this planet.

I remember him freaking out and getting VERY cross with me when I was small for bringing a cow skull into their house ( which, in retrospect, was a fair enough response. I have only vague memories of the skull itself - but I do remember having to mostly dig it out of the ground - so it can't have been a very pleasant thing. I think at the time I had thought it was 'pretty neat, though why is beyond me now ).

I remember him having a fairly minor win in lotto while we were down ( $100 or so - not much ), and when he got the cash he immediately gave me and my sister $20 each - which I remember thinking was very generous of him ( I think I use it to buy the first book of the Steve Jackson "Sorcery!" fighting fantasy books - which came with it's own separate spell book. That was pretty cool ! ).

When I was staying with him and my uncle down South before hitting the Christchurch teachers college, I remember how he used to INSIST that I have a fish fillet from the fish and chip shop when he was getting the order together - because they were SO amazing. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I thought they tasted worse than raw pig uterus.

I do remember that he made freaking awesome sausages. Dear god in heaven, they were the lobster thermidor of the small goods world !

I don't remember what his real voice sounded like though. He got his voice-box removed years ago and had to use one of those buzzer things. It was freaking hilarious when he misplaced it or, even funnier, when the batteries started to go and he'd end up sounding like a darlek going through puberty - all squeaky highs and burbling liquid lows. It took a massive amount of self-control not to laugh when either of these situations occurred ( or at least not laugh until you managed to make it far away enough that he wouldn't hear ! ). South Park was JUST being shown on channel 4 while I was living with him and my uncle, and there was much fun had trying to get him to say "Were you in Da-Nang ?" in the style of Jimbo.

And now he's gone. The ole fella lived to be 81, so he had a good run I guess. He lived to see me and my sister graduate and get our teaching diploma and doctorate respectively, saw me married as well as both of his own kids, and was around for a good part of my little cousins Annie and Grace's lives. Didn't get to see any great grandchildren - sorry man !

I delivered a reading at the funeral mass ( something from the Book of Job, I forget which book and verse ), and was a pallbearer as well. He was buried with his engraved beer jug from the local hotel resting on the top of his coffin, which gave we pallbearers the extra challenge of lowering the casket into the grave without tipping the jug off and smashing it. Fortunately we managed to lower it with jug intact. I kept getting marcarbe images of Tetris flashing into my head as I lowered the suspension straps down inch by inch. I'm not sure what my grandfather would make of that !

The food at the wake was pretty much entirely sandwich or deep-fried, which did nothing to help my current weight loss programme. Still - there are those who would say that this is no bad thing ( right mum ? ;) )

I spent the rest of the time before we drove back to the airport playing weird balloon games with my wee three year old cousin Annie. Then she discovered an even BETTER game which involved running at me from another room, and leaping on me. Fun fun fun ! Normally I wouldn't put up with such abuse - but I cut the kid some slack.

As I said - all very sad, but it just goes to remind you how transitory life is, and how we should dance while the music plays.

See you later Paddy - happy trails.