A Sad Day

Published on 08. Mar, 2013 by in Family


Today, very sadly, my Grandad, Edwin Palmer, passed away. He had been quite unwell for some time, and reached a very good age, but the inevitability of the event does not prevent those who loved him feeling very sad right now.

Jon, my brother, put it very well: he was a good man.

Edwin Palmer, Grandad, a good man.

Edwin Palmer, Grandad, a good man.

For me, the thing I will remember most about my Grandad was his contentedness with life. Until the last few months, where his general poor health had made his quality of life very hard even for him to bear, he was a man who was so genuinely pleased with his lot in life that he was an inspiration to us all. For Grandad the thing that made him happiest was having his wonderful wife (my Nan, Doreen) and his two daughters (my Mum and Aunt) and their families around him. Ultimately he realised a lesson that no doubt many of us struggle to recognise: there is nothing of more value in life than the time and love of your family.

Like many working class men of his generation, Grandad did not get the opportunities that we are fortunate enough to take for granted these days. As a young man he did not enjoy an extended education. Instead at the earliest possible age he signed up to fight in the second world war. Unlike many of his generation, he was fortunate not to have been embroiled too deeply in front line service, and escaped being haunted by all that that entailed. However, just like all others at that time, he did lose many friends and companions who he had trained with. I am sure this helped him to have that perspective in life where he truly understood the important things.

Throughout life Grandad worked hard to provide for his family and improve their circumstances. He was a very practical man who was very good at fixing things. I also remember him as a keen gardener, growing his own fruit and vegetables; a man who loved playing his piano to his family; a fisherman (who, through frequent trips together in my teens, taught me everything I know about how not to catch fish); a man who took great care of his car and later his bicycle; a man who loved a small flutter on the horses; a man who loved to have a lunchtime pint in his local with his friends; and a fine supporter of my football teams as I was growing up.

Grandad confided that his one wish in life was that he had had a better education. Some people may have just left it at that but instead he set about learning French after his retirement and taking every opportunity he could to try to get his young grandson to explain algebra to him. He was immensely proud of the achievements of both his daughters and his grandchildren. Of course, like any of us he was also not without fault, for example he could sometimes be opinionated and stubborn. But even those traits were put to good measure when expressing his fierce loyalty and pride in those who he loved the most, or fighting back from two heart attacks in my early childhood, and a number of strokes in my late teens to have comparatively good health well into his eighties.

Perhaps his true love in life however, was his wonderful wife, my Nan. Having been together for an incomprehensible 65 years, no-one will miss my Grandad more than her. They were a pair, and they were devoted to each other throughout their life. They were each other’s reason for being. For me their love for each other provides daily inspiration for my own marriage. As Grandad passed away today Nan was bereft, like a lady stepping out into the big wide world on her own for the very first time. We have a lot to do to make Nan feel as loved as she was by Grandad.

We live in a time where the demands of modern life allow us to make excuses for losing perspective of what is important. We think we have important jobs. Many have commuter lifestyles. We constantly strive for recognition amongst our colleagues or peers. We are always looking at the future, or even the past, often without really taking the time to appreciate the present. Grandad was a man who understood that sometimes the most valuable things in life are simple. He could recognise happiness and knew when he had attained it.

For that, and for many other things, he will be loved and missed by his family for the rest of our lives. That is his big gift to me.

He was a good man.

One Response to “A Sad Day”

  1. Annie Perkins says:

    Beautifully expressed David, inspiring to read

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