The Day My Granddad Said Goodbye


DocImage000000473The day my Granddad died my father came home from the hospital and got out a can of green paint and began to paint the ceiling of the back kitchen. Mom said “No Bill, don’t! Don’t start painting now. It doesn’t have to be done; it’s not that important.” but Dad said “It is important Jean. It has to be done.” and he gathered together his brush and some old rags and set up the step-ladder in the corner of the room. Then he began to meticulously brush the paint onto the boards, and into the cracks, a dark green colour, the same as what was already there. Tears ran down his cheeks and onto his shirt front. He tried to push them back into the corners of his eyes with the back of his hand. Before long he had green circles under both eyes, like big bruises, as if his eyes had seen something so terrible that it inflicted the force of a prize fighter’s punch to both eyes.

It was strong-smelling oil based paint and its odour soon permeated every inch of the house as Dad worked without interruption, not bothering to talk to anyone as they passed by. The back kitchen had been a summer kitchen in earlier times but it had since become a combined mud room and laundry area. As we eight kids came and went through, past our silent  father each of us sensed the sudden change in the natural order of things in our world, it was so quiet. Dad had grown up in this house and had always lived here, except for the five years he lived in the little white house which he had built next door,when he first married Mom. Until last week Granddad had lived there, not more than a shout away, ever since we had traded houses ten years before. Granddad had been having lunch and supper at our house for many of those years, ever since Grandma had passed away.

My father was a fastidious painter and his work always reflected that. His hands and arms were usually fairly clean as he worked away, but not that day. The paint must have been more runny than usual. I wondered as he looked up at the ceiling, repeatedly brushing paint into every crevice and crack, was he really just looking up at the boards or was he looking up because he was thinking of Granddad now far far above them? Would Granddad be leaning down over the edge of a cloud and thinking “Good Job Billy, I meant to get around to that second coat a long long time ago but I just never did find the time.”?

When Mom called us all to the supper table, Dad came in to the kitchen all cleaned up again. His eyes were red and swollen and he looked like he might have burns under his eyes and on one of his cheeks. I thought at first that he might have done that with paint thinner or solvent but now that I am much older I have seen that same look in my own reflection in the mirror far too many times. I know exactly what it was from. That’s what grief looks like.

The last time I saw my Granddad was a few hours before his last breath, when we oldest three were allowed to take a turn to be with him for a moment or two to say goodbye. As I put my cheek next to his, so that I could hear him better, he asked me about my first date, the one with the Junior Farmer which I wrote about in yesterday’s post. He asked “How was that banquet you went to?” I told him “It was great,Granddad. Really nice!” Then he said ‟You’ll be going to a lot more of them. The fellows will be asking you to a lot more.” Then he said “You take care of my boys for me now. Will you?” and I said “Yes Granddad, I will, I promise.”

I sometimes think about the fact that the last thing that Granddad asked me about was a banquet. No matter how many wedding banquets and other feasts  I have been to, no matter what we were celebrating, I now know that there is one more in my future that will surpass all the rest. That’s  because those who are invited to it are blessed, according to Revelation 19:9. I look forward to that day when we shall be around a banquet table together, my Granddad and I, and all those present in Heaven on that great day of celebration. I’ve already accepted my invitation to be there, and I hope you do too.

And, as for you boys that I love so dearly, a promise is a promise!

About Yvonne's Musings

Being the second of eight kids born in 11 years to my busy parents ultimately was a real advantage to me. I learned very early that if you wanted to be heard amidst all the noise the best way to accomplish it was to write your thoughts down. My first post to my mother," i hate skool. i cried at skool tooday!" was stuck with ABC chewing gum to the lid of the diaper pail, where I was certain that she would find it. Her attention quickly elicited in me a love of writing that has been life long. Seeking a wider audience I have decided to now, decades later, blog. Happy reading Mom! This is for you!

4 responses »

  1. You write with such feeling. The prior post made me laugh out loud, this one made me want to cry. Its not just feeling either, I could smell the paint, and see the grief bruises. It is good to be emotive when you write. It is great to be evocative. You are both.

    P.S. I would like to see write about why children and babies are such a riot, in the future. That is, if you take requests.

  2. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be
    bookmarking and checking back frequently!


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