1909 – Granddad

My Granddad was a great man; there are no other words to describe him! He was both gentle and generous, with impeccable manners and kindly disposition! He was, in short – knightly!

Sadly, on Tuesday of this week, he was lost to us and to the world – somehow the sun now doesn’t seem quite so bright. But I would rather celebrate his life than dwell in words of sadness.

A light shines despite the shadow and heaven cries not, for now it be graced by the greatest of the good! And to each year a gift was given and with smiles my heart be filled with love.

Last week, for the first time ever, I published excerpts from Me, My World and I. Today, I will honour my Granddad by publishing a full chapter!

1909 was written for my Granddad, and while on reflection, it carries some sadness – it seems a fitting and respectful way to show my great pride in the man I considered my best friend.

My Granddad treated the world as if it was his family and they responded with love. If I could be only half the man he was, I would be a better man by far!

Before sharing the poem and chapter with you, I would like to thank all those who have tweeted with their kind support, I am so very grateful.

Black and white to colour fades,
A heart beats while time moves on.
This life well lived now just lingers.
He mourns a moment,
For the moment’s gone.
Looking back through life’s adventure,
In his prime, when once he shone.
Souvenirs of life’s fond memories,
And still he mourns,
For those moments gone.
As when young, now still he dreams,
With moments still to call upon.
For in these dreams, he is a young man,
He mourns not moments,
For no moment’s gone.

My paternal grandfather was born in the September of 1909, and as I write, he is in the year of his 103rd birthday.

In 1910, Thomas Edison demonstrated the world’s first motion picture, and in 1911, for the first time, cars had electric ignitions. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until 1913 that the crossword puzzle was invented and women started to wear bras. I can’t even imagine how men spent their spare time before then.

By the time my granddad had reached his sixteenth birthday, canned beer was on the shelves. And within a few years, we had ballpoint pens. By the time he was my age, he had seen two world wars and the invention of jet engines, Teflon, atomic bombs, and microwave ovens.

He witnessed the birth of modern aviation, space travel, and computer technology – all while eating innovations in fast food and watching television.

These days, of course, we think nothing of frying our food in our Teflon coated frying pan or drinking a can of beer while watching a live football match from the other side of the planet. We take for granted our holidays in the sun and think nothing of the satellites that deliver entertainment to our front rooms. We complete crosswords with ballpoint pens, and we know nothing of air raids, ration books, or blackouts.

He has lived through a truly historic era, a golden age of invention and scientific advance. I wonder how many inventions and events during my lifetime will – sixty years from now – be seen in quite the same light.

I have a really hard time coming to terms with just how quickly life is passing me by. Even at forty-two, there is a real feeling of chapters ending way faster than I would like. But then I spare a thought for my granddad and how little life must seem to offer.

I can’t imagine how it must feel to know that nearly everything is behind you. Of course, nobody knows how many tomorrows will come, but at 102, you are probably sure that there are not as many as you would like. I believe in God, and I believe in life after death … but I am not ashamed to admit that I fear death and its cloak of great uncertainty. I love life and am sure that, if faced with my grandfather’s predicament, I would surely go mad with fear.

I know that my granddad spends a lot of time looking back, and I am not sure which is more cruel: being able to remember or (as with my maternal grandmother) being robbed of all that has been. What I do know is that, when dreaming, we are all still young. And when lost in slumber, I am sure my granddad is still enveloped in life’s great adventure.

I don’t want to feel sorry for my granddad. He has lived a very full and active life, he has known love, and he has known happiness. I want him to go on and live forever, I want him to always be that great man I grew up thinking of as my best friend. I do feel sorrow at his passing years, though, and I do wish sometimes that time would just stand still. That’s not to say it’s all selfish on my part. My sadness stems more from the fear of how he must now feel than of my fear of losing somebody very dear.

I console myself with the hope that, in his dreams, he finds contentment. And I know in my heart that his wife is waiting, and that too will make him very happy. She has waited a very long time, but I hope she won’t mind waiting at least a little longer.

Of course, my granddad’s life has been far more than just a sum of his experiences. He was a brother, a devoted husband, and a father. He is a loved and much respected grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. Over the years, he has touched lives and become a friend to many.

Perhaps that’s the point. Life is not just about what we do, but also about the legacy we leave behind. My granddad is one of the last remaining sentinels of a bygone era. His polite language and sunny manner is a shining beacon in a time when such virtues seem to have been lost. Perhaps my concern should be less for the time I may have left and more for the impression I may one day leave behind.

This poem is dedicated to my granddad and the massive part he has played in my life. I give him these words, and I do so with love.

Rest peacefully Granddad, you live on always in my heart xxx

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41 Responses to 1909 – Granddad

  1. Lisa says:

    Andrew this is beautiful. And I’m very sure your granddad was incredibly proud of you.

  2. David Prosser says:

    We live, we die, it’s the bit in-between that matters – Granddad certainly left a positive legacy, and lots of happy memories to cherish.

  3. Mel says:

    A truly beautiful blog in memory of a truly wonderful man. I only met your Granddad twice, but he had a way of shining and making all around him feel special.

  4. Robin says:

    Andrew, you have described my dad much more eloquently than I could ever have done; thank you.
    At last my mum’s wait for him has ended and they are re-united.

    • avbarber says:

      Thanks Dad, I am certain that nanny will be glad of Granddad’s company. Granddad always said Nanny was with him wherever he went and that always felt very romantic and comforting!

  5. The word has become passé, unfortunately. Sounds like your granddad was a ‘Gentleman’, with all that marvelous word implies. I’m sure his family will miss him terribly! Well written Andrew!

    • avbarber says:

      Hap, he was the truest gentleman you ever could meet and thank you for your recognition and kindness. He will live on through those who knew him and celebrated in every way!

  6. ouremuk66 says:

    What a beautiful way to remember such a beloved man, Andrew your words have brought me to tears and made me smile in the same post.

  7. AutismMumma says:

    A lovely post, Andrew. He lived through so much and hopefully he and his wife are now reunited. I’m sure he was very proud of you all.
    My grandparents died at 84 and 85, a year and a week between them. I wish I’d had more time with them, that they’d met their great-grandchildren.
    Life is short, but so much happened for your grandad during his lifetime, I wonder what the next 60 years will bring?

    • avbarber says:

      Jeannette, thank you so very much for your lovely words. I think my Granddad lived through an era of great adventure and advancement. He saw so much and was an amazing man! I never heard him swear, not once and he always had time for everybody. He was so loved and will be so missed!

  8. Hi Andrew! So sorry to read about your lose, but what a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. I know he’s proud of you. Take care!

  9. Stephanie Hamilton says:

    I didn’t meet your grandad until he was in his mid- nineties. I remember a man always smiling and happy. Very friendly and easy to talk to.

    Your poem and writing for your grandad made me cry, something I don’t do often so you know how moving it is. Really interesting but also so sad as he has gone.His spirit lives on xx

    • avbarber says:

      Hi Steph, I am honoured by your words. Granddad was indeed a light in the shadow and he had a way of making you feel at ease. Just about everybody called him “Granddad”, even complete strangers! Thank you again Steph!

  10. Martin Oxby says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us all. Sorry to hear of his passing, but beautiful words, well penned.

  11. suefortin says:

    Heartfelt sympathies for your loss, Andrew.

    What a lovely blog post. Your love and respect for him shines through, he has certainly seen the changes. My nan was born in 1907 and lived until she was 100. I don’t think anyone will see so much change and events in one lifetime as our grandparents did.


    • avbarber says:

      Hi Sue, I would completely agree, they lived through a monumental age. In many ways they were forefathers of discovery, venturing new boundaries and driving us to a promised land. Sadly, not everything improved for the better but still – what an exciting thing to have been a part of. Granddad was loved and he knew it, that helps 🙂

      Thank you for your lovely kind words Sue

  12. Sara Jane says:

    Andrew I am so sorry to hear of your Grandad’s passing, for you. He has gone home, it is only his body that has died. He will always be with you, supporting you, loving you and very proud of you. I truely understand, I lost my favourite Grandpa when I was only 19 and nearly 2 years ago my Pop went home. Yes I miss all my family and friends that are no longer here in the physical world but I know they are safe, happy and out of all pain. My sorrow is for me that I will not see them again, for them I am so happy and when it is my time to go home they will be waiting to greet me, as will your Grandad be there to greet you. Rejoice in the times you had in the special gifts he gave you, his encouragement, his belief in you and let those gifts live on in you as his legacy. He loves you and always will ❤

    • avbarber says:

      Sara Jane, what wonderful kindness you have shown in taking the time to share these beautiful words. I believe as you, that my Granddad has merely moved on and I am certain he is watching over us all – though I am also certain that if he can be, he will be fishing 🙂

  13. Chris Waters says:

    I met him a handful of times in my life, every time he always gave me a happy smile and a nod of the head. He always seemed cheerful. My condolences.

  14. Knightly is a superb description of your lovely kind Granddad 🙂 He’d be so terribly proud of your writing, I’m sure he’s telling your Nanny all about it in Heaven. Beautiful words as always but I’m so sorry for your loss xox

    • avbarber says:

      Thank you Lisa, this is extremely kind of you. I am just hoping that Granddad is now finding some time to do some fishing – you know how dear to his heart that passtime was 🙂 I hope he is proud of my writing, I am certainly very proud of him!

  15. aklp1990 says:

    Lovely 🙂 he was such a kind hearted man. Sadly as one of his great grand children I never saw him any younger than when he was in his 80s. However, we would still go fishing and I’d admire how he continued to live in his own home and look after himself for such a long time. I used to enjoy looking at the photographs of everyone he kept in his little bag whilst he told me all about them. And again when I’d sit and look through his special photo book that was made when he reached 100. Very loving and selfless man. Proud to of met him and even prouder that he was my great granddad. My heart goes out to granddad Robin. Just want you to know we love you very much and are here for you if you everneed us

    • avbarber says:

      I had forgotten about that bag Ames, he was always lost without it! Thank you for sharing your memories. He was indeed an amazing man, people perhaps don’t realise, but he still lived in his own home at the age of 100. I remember going to see him after his 100th birthday party, worried he might be a little too frail to be alone – I found him weeding the garden 🙂

  16. Yvonne Day says:

    Andrew it is lovely to read what you have written about Uncle Stan – I am his niece Yvonne, Aunt Jennie was my fathers sister. I spent a lot of time with them when I was growing up and Sutton Bridge became my second home. I have so many happy memories of being with them and I am talking about the 1950s and 1960s, when it was a gentler age and we enjoyed the simple things
    in life perhaps more than we do today. They always used to have cats, which I loved and just going
    shopping with them or strawberry picking was always so much fun. Uncle Stan was a true gentleman and he has lived to a remarkable age, but I know we can all take comfort that he will at
    last be reunited with his beloved Jennie.
    Best wishes

    • avbarber says:

      Hi Yvonne, thank you so much for your wonderful comments. I do indeed remember you and thank you for bringing me such wonderful memories. I think the two cats I remember are Sandy and Lucky but perhaps the ones you remember are from before? I think nanny will be glad her wait is finally over, although Granddad always felt she was with him. Even in the last few years, when names became a problem for him, he would still fish your name from somewhere – you were never forgotten! I look forward to seeing you again soon Yvonne x

  17. Dana says:

    My “Great Granddad Barber”

    Although he was no relation, the reason I call him Great Granddad is because he was a great, wonderful, amazing man who will sit in my heart for evermore and will be remembered by everyone and anyone. But now he has joined his wife at those gleaming, golden gates being looked after by the angels who will love him dearly. I love my great granddad Barber and I always will as I remember him as the best granddad ever. Love you lots, granddad Barber! xxx

    • avbarber says:

      Beautifully put Dana, I am sure he would be very proud of you. I think you have shared your special connection and helped people to understand why he was such an amazing man. Thank you 🙂

  18. Phoebe says:

    My great-granddad filled a space of joy in my heart. He lived on his own for an amazing time and when he was struggling he moved in with my granddad, but after nearly two years he couldn’t be left alone so he had to go into a home. Sometimes he got confused and did things wrong. He lived to the amazing age of nearly 104 but he was getting very frail and now he is re-united with his wife in heaven. xoxoxox

  19. nikki says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss Andrew and send warm wishes to you. Can only imagine what it is like to meet someone, who has lived through so many ages and had so many tales to tell. Our memories of those now gone keeps them alive inside of us. Thank you for sharing your poem and part of those memories x

    • avbarber says:

      Thank you Nikki, you are so very right, Granddad will live on through us and so many memories will be handed down through further generations of the family. He was a great man and such a light could never grow dim. Thank you for your wonderful kindness!

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