My Grandad died last week. He wanted to. He’d had enough. He wasn’t well, he missed my Nan who went about 8 years ago and the Emphysema had taken its toll on his body.
I was lucky enough to be raised by my Grandparents. My Mother passed in 1986 after a particularly bad asthma attack. My step father remarried a woman who had kids of her own and they made it clear that there wasn’t a place in that family for me so off I went.
Ray Smart was always in the garage making stuff for us kids and he was first to arrive to help out if something needed doing at anyone else’s house. Being allowed to mow his lawn was a big deal and if he called us by our given names, we were in trouble. He called a spade a spade and you always knew where you stood.
I remember once an old teacher of mine was trying to sell me Amway so he went to the phone, dialed 137 to make it ring, picked it up, had an imaginary conversation with no-one, told me I had to take the call and booted the guy out. He always had his family’s back.
He loved his cars. I remember once
He was big on his Sunday drives, whether we were checking out new subdivisions, pointing out houses he’d built years ago, getting ice creams, whitebait or mushrooms. Grandad had an uncanny ability to spot a mushroom 3 fields over and thought nothing of stopping the car, climbing 3 fences and walking a mile to get it. He didn’t give a stuff whose field it was, those mushrooms were coming home with us.
Last Friday, I was quietly clearing out his room at his retirement village and all the staff wanted to stop me and say how fond of him they were.
I truly believe that going into care added almost another 2 years onto his life. He was warm, fed and he had company. He had cups of tea whenever he wanted it and his secret supply of beer as well. He gave as good as he got with the nurses and loved it when they gave it back. He decided to name one of the staff 4 foot 11. That was his name for her. She swears she’s 5 foot tall but he wouldn’t have a bar of it. I overheard one of the inmates telling a staff member how much quieter it was without him puffing away, she said she missed it.
For as long as I can remember, the first thing my Grandfather did when he got the paper each day was check the death notices to see if he was still alive.