It was the anniversary of Grandad’s death today. On 10th March 1991, he died at Yeovil District Hospital.
The last time I saw him was when on a visit to England in September 1990. He stood at the back door of his farmhouse as I was leaving and said, “I’ve had a good life. Whenever it comes to an end, I am ready to go.” It seemed a strange thing for him to have said. When he died, I wondered if he had some sort of prescience. Only recently did I discover that he knew that he was ill and that he knew that he was going to die.
I bought some daffodils to take to his grave today. Of course, I could have picked any number of daffodils in the garden, but I wanted some that had not opened, some that would open in the coming days, a metamorphosis of sorts as dull buds become bright blooms. At sunset, this evening, I knelt at his grave and arranged the daffodils in a vase. There were no other fresh flowers there, English people remember the birthdays of their loved ones, and Christmastime, more than the anniversaries of their death.
Today was the first time that I took flowers. Grandad would probably have disapproved of the buying of flowers, but perhaps he would have been happy to have done as I did, and he would have stood in silence and remembered. Grandad seemed a man who enjoyed silence, a man who thought time spent in deep reflection was not time wasted.
In the years before his death, I had sometimes only seen him once in a year; by the time I had time and money to travel more often, he was gone. Now, I often go to his grave, as if to reach out to some past that is gone beyond recall.
He wasn’t the sort of grandad who played games with us, nor the sort who was full of stories and laughter, instead he was a quietly spoken man, an undemonstrative man, a wise man. Grandfather to twenty of us, he was loved by each of us, loved for his always being there for us. When the need arose, he would get into his 1950s Land Rover or his old Rover car and act as a taxi driver. In summertime, his five-bedroomed farmhouse was a place where grandchildren spent many happy days and nights.
At the funeral, the local vicar insisted on giving the address. His description of my Grandad barely began to capture the man we laid to rest in the soil of the parish that has been home to the family for centuries. Each time I go to the grave, now, I remember the sheaf of wheat buried with my Grandad; grain falling to the ground in the hope of rising again.