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You know, I stopped shaving to think of something to write here. That worked out well.

Will Cooper @Coop

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Vancouver, CANADA

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I feel empty

Posted by Coop - June 23rd, 2013

As is usual for my Sunday afternoons, I went to see my Granddad at the residential home, where he has been for the past 20 months. We were all aware that his condition was slowly deteriorating and that eventually, his innings of 91 years would come to a close.

I arrived there with my dad, both there to support the other and we were told that the carers were changing his bedding. So we sat in the hall and waited for a few minutes, passing the time with idle chit-chat. Before going in to see him, we were warned gently by one of the girls there that he had taken a turn for the worse and that he was just staring into space, unresponsive. I had seen him that way last Sunday, so I knew that the end was getting nearer.

We stood by his bedside, my hand on his shoulder, dad's hand in granddad's, as the elder Coop struggled to breathe. Yes, it was upsetting, I make no bones about the emotion shown there and then, but I have come to accept over the past few months that this day would eventually come to pass.

Noting in the visitor book that dad's sister had been in to visit this morning, we made our way home, less talkative than usual - what can you say at a time like that, anyway?

Dad tries to call his sister, with no answer, just to give her an update, while I put the kettle on. As we settle down for a cup of tea at just gone 3pm, the phone goes and dad goes to answer, thinking it will be his sister, returning his call. No, it was the home, saying that granddad had slipped away peacefully.

We were at his bedside not half an hour before the end. He waited for us to come and see him, in a way. At times like this, I am very thankful to have a massive core of friends, who are willing to do nothing less than support me, because I don't want to burden the family any more than necessary. It helps to spread the load and get whatever needs to come off my chest out there.

I'm a lucky man - I've said it before - to have reached 30 and still have 2 grandparents left. Now that I have just one, I don't feel that I'm any less lucky, as I have lived with all four of them at one stage or another of my life and have had good times and bad with all (some more than others, but I'm not here to dwell on that)

He will always be my favourite grandparent. I don't know why, I can't explain it. He always had a soft spot for me and the feeling was more than mutual. I shall miss him dearly and though I shall feel particularly at a loss next Sunday, when I would usually be seeing him, I also feel proud to have been able to call him my grandfather.

If anyone can bring a smile to my face, by mentioning "James & The Giant Peach", it will always be the enduring memory of his reading of chapter 1, when the description of grandma reads "and she had a small puckered up mouth, like a dog's bottom." For the entire afternoon of my 6th birthday, he sat in the armchair and chorlted his way through the celebrations, unable to read any more. It's these little details that make life so interesting, don't you agree?

RIP, granddad. I will miss you. Forever in my heart, you helped me become the man I am.

Comments (5)

Sorry for your loss, Coop. At least he lived a very long life! The only grandfather I knew well died when I was 12 or so.

I've got a good pedigree - my maternal grandfather died at almost 89, when I was 12. My paternal grandmother was the youngest of the four, reaching 83, when I was 23. Now I've lost my paternal grandfather at 91, while I'm 30 and who knows how old my maternal grandmother will be when she leaves us - currently 86.

A conservative average of 87.25, so I can hope for at least another 50 years and see where we go from there!

That's a beautiful story at the end there. I've never seen a photo of your granddad but I have this perfect image of an elder gentleman in his armchair giggling away rather inappropriately around a bunch of kids at a party. And yeah that is life. Not the big moments, but the little ones. Its the unplanned stuff that sticks with you, they make for the most interesting moments cause they utlimately feel more real.

I think he waited for you and your dad too. Its not the first time I've heard of people 'hanging on'. And to me there is something so sweet and loving about that. I'm not sure how much of HIM was inside his mind on that last day but there was enough that he wanted to see his daughter, son and grandson one last time before he left. I hope you can learn to cherish that when the pain lessens.

Because it wasn't just a case of you getting to see him one last time, he got to see you one last time too.

He sounds like a great man by the way. And he must be to have inspired you. RIP Wills granddad x

Inappropriately? Nah, we all found it funny that he laughed so much - once he started laughing, we all laughed as well. Nothing like Jimmy Saville, at all!

We've still got stuff to sort out and while I think that it will get easier over time, it's going to be the funeral that hits us hard, before the wake, when we can loosen up a little (and hopefully have a drink - please don't make it a week on Monday...)

Thank you for your kind words, Leanne. it really means a lot, especially to have praise such as that - truly, it thrills me to death.

I have lost one grandparent so far on my dad's side, at least while I was alive. And it was embarrassing to see myself crying at the funeral, with my dad trying to comfort me. There are a lot of memories I've had, but I really don't feel the need to share them right now.

I don't know what to say. Just know that people understand your loss.

You write good.

Thanks, I understand your loss.

I spent 10-20 minutes writing last night and it might get used as part of the eulogy. I'm not sure whether I'd be capable of standing up in front of the congregation and reading it aloud, but we'll see. Looks like I've got until the 9th of July to be ready for that.

Your granddad would be proud to have you read this at his funeral. Touching story and sorry for your loss, but he lived (what sounds like) a full and happy life. At least you were blessed enough to have visited him in his final hours.

I can sort of relate in a way, since my own grandfather's health is quickly deteriorating and I may soon find myself in a very similar predicament in the coming years.

Part of this grand thing we call life I guess eh?
*Sings Lion King opening song*

Anyway, my respects and well wishes for you and your family.

I wrote something different for the funeral. I sat down on the day he died and started writing it. Today, I fulfilled that promise I made a few days ago and I delivered it in front of a packed church. Many members of the family were immensely proud of what I said and some of the villagers want to print it in the local parish newsletter.

I held it all together and I feel so much better for getting that off my chest and honouring a truly great man, as I did.


Ever reminisced about the past? No? Perhaps you're too young...