Mine passed away a long time ago, all popping off in the same year like they had some important engagement to get to that the rest of us weren’t cool enough for. It had better have been one hell of a party because two of them didn’t even have the decency to say goodbye- too busy planning what to wear for their grand entrance perhaps?
From the times that they pushed a pound coin into the palm of your tiny hand, to when they let you eat a whole packet of digestives because you were their favourite; grandparents are the best because they spoil you rotten. My nan would chop up cucumber and cheese into perfect squares for me every time I would visit her house; she didn’t shout when I broke her favourite ornament and she would play me Irish ditties on repeat from her kitchen stereo whilst we diced the veg for dinner.
I still have that tape actually.
Probably because I feel a bit robbed, as there are lots of people my age still hanging onto their grandparents and it frustrates me because the older I get, the more I bloody need them.
Whatever mistakes I made or whatever I faced on my journey through early life, they would tell me that it would all be okay – whether this was down to their wisdom, timeless retrospect, or just because they loved me – it was always nice to hear. This was all well and good for a nine year old me, but now that I’m in my twenties, the funnest but hardest years of my life, where are my grandparents?! I no longer care if someone doesn’t want to play with me and I’ve grazed my knee more times as a twenty five year old than as child so I’ve got that figured out, but I’m telling you: rejections letters and break ups would be a lot easier to take with that chopped up cave aged and an Irish jig to cushion the blow. Don’t get me wrong, although they would squeeze me tight when things got hard, the best part was that it was always accompanied by a good kick up the backside and a relinquishing effort from them to force me to keep going.
And that’s because their generation were strong. We seem a lot weaker than them: living through world wars, explicit racism, depressions… actually, it sounds a lot like what we’re going through, so scrap that. I do think, however, that they have more of a resilience to things. In fact, it was summed up by Beadie’s daughter perfectly in Girls recently:
“Every time I meet someone five or more years younger than me, they are a complete a**hole. Is it because you were told you were special one too many times and you believed it? Because when my generation and every generation before me were called special, we were smart enough to know it meant we were stupid, so it made us work that much harder to stop being stupid.”
I, much like most of you probably, hold my grandparents in the highest regard. Funny really, when you actually consider that they’re just normal human beings underneath the armour and angel wings. They are (or were) in-laws to our parents and so we might think they’re great, but our mums and dads probably think they’ve been a pain in the arse on more than one occasion, and they too have stories to tell. They’ve had their hearts broken, experienced love, loss, sadness, anger and they too have made mistakes; probably some quite big ones. But the best thing about realising that they too are human? Is that they’ve done everything one, or two, steps ahead of you, so their advice is invaluable.
Sometimes I think that we’re so busy growing, that we forget that they’re growing old. So if you’re lucky enough to still have your grannies, granddads, nanas and pops, ask them to tell you their story whilst you still have the chance.
But be sure to make a cup of tea first, and perhaps bring some tissues, it’s bound to be interesting.