Today I feel ready to share the work of one of the strongest men I know. My grandpa on my Dad’s side died 3 years ago today. We were always very close and I loved him dearly.We nursed him at home in his own bed. When he died it was strange. I almost had a premonition he was going to die the night he did. I had been spending my time bwteen my Dad’s house and my flat. I had planned to stay at my flat but about 1930 in the evening I just decided I wanted to stay at my Dad’s. We got a phone call from the nurse at my Granny and Grandpa’s about 0200 in the morning to say he had died. The nurse didnt wake my Granny. We went over. I went into my Grannys room and woke her up gently. The first thing she asked me ‘was he gone?”. It was such a peaceful time. It was heart wrenching that he was gone but t was all so peaceful and calm. I wouldn’t change any of it. He died at home and at peace. He joined my Uncle and no doubt now they are playing tricks where ever they may be!!
My Granny did not always understand our relationship. She didnt and still doesn’t get how we could spend so much time together walking up the hill and not say very much. She would often ask what we spoke about and often we didnt speak much at all. Our conversation was the time we spent with each other enjoying the company and not having to make conversation. One of my Grandpa’s two great loves was poetry and the outdoors. He sent many summers on Rum doing forestry and conservation work. He loved it. He had triple heart bypass surgery on the 10/10/11. The night before he wrote half of a poem for me and he finished it when he was in ITU/HDU recovering from his operation. As ever with my grandpa he was exact down to the last detail.
So on the 9/10/11 at 21:08 he started:
Rum- A History by Robert Fulton (his favourite Isle)
The holy men from Colums isles
with reverent step and show
By cool green dale and still blue loch
To ” ” quietly go
Over lonely moor and mountains praise to their God doth rise
Eagle starteld soars aloft on dawns ” ” skies.
Through narrow gap ” ” shore and loch
The voiding Norsemen frown
The holy men of Priestdale, alas they are no more
Ruined, sad and silent lies the humble cell
Desecated, blackened, broken, the sacred silver bell
Peaks stand silent mourning tears on Kilmorys strand
Families from home uprooted to die in forgone lands
Sighs from holy preistsdale stir in the evening breeze
Wondering at mans cruelty to innocent as these
On a cool clean autumn mooring the gentry well
To the new build lodge at Papadel the guns the gillies bore
The reeds and grasses whispered to the holy ones
Children in satonic mills died for their life of ease
The modern travellers weary gaze on the scene belwo
Ruined lodge and stricken trees mid primrose golden glow
On secret ” ” and hillock quiet spirits gently smile
knowing that at least one of these would linger yet a while
Pale moonight casts cold shadows on sterile counterpanes
The useless fingers clutch and twist in vain
In far off lonely Priestdale the ones sit and wait
“Come” they whisper “Come its not too late”
Sadly I was not able to decipher some of the words my Grandpa had written so there are a few gaps however I do hope that one day I will be able to work out the missing words.
It makes me smile inside when I read the hand written copy of this because he wrote it on his physio exercise sheets and was very proud that it is all his own work.
He was a very special man. I am bias because he is my Grandpa but not everyone had a Grandpa who served with the SOE in WWII, fought with Tito and Fitzroy McLean, jumped out a plane with little more than an handkerchief as a parachute landing behind enemy lines, won his only medal from the war in a cross country race, was shot though the hand, wrote speeches for several Edinburgh Council Members, completed a skydive for his 80th birthday. This are just some of his accomplishments but he also had such a big heart and would spend hours playing with me as a kid, standing in a pail of water or pushing cars through tunnels made of cereal boxes.
Most of all I admire his spirit and strength and I hope I have inherited some of that. I hope I can continue with the work I do and do it because I want to make a change- not for myself (although that would be an added bonus) but for the 5.4 million people that suffer with asthma in the UK. I want to use my experiences to benefit others.