On 16th September, 2012 – I lost a man I love so much. My grandfather, whom we affectionately call Poppa. He slipped away peacefully in his sleep. He was a happy man right up to the very end.
I am doing an ugly cry as I write this up.
This was a man who used to come over every Saturday, allow me to sit on his lap and play with his hair, put ribbons in his hair.
He instilled the love of reading in me, giving me books – whenever there was a birthday, my grandparents would give everyone a book and I used to gather them all up and read them all on that day.
He wrote poetry. He wrote poems about me.
She’s just a girl of tender years
But she has lost so much
For she hears nothing with her ears
No music, speech or such
But through all this there’s no complaint
For things she has not
She buckles down and makes the most
Of things that she has got
She goes to school in Christchurch
It is a hearing school
She learns her lessons wonderfully
Lip-reading as her tool
She skis, she also fences
And I am bound to say
She portrayed a schoolgirl
In a TV play
This girl who is of tender years
She’s a legend of the future.
Not even handicapped
You should see my young granddaughter
She’s the sweetest girl around
She’s pretty, bright, intelligent
Though she never hears a sound
From birth she’s never heard the things
That we can all enjoy
Like when birds arise at dawning
Or the tinkling of a toy
She’s never heard the love produced
Within her mother’s voice
She’s never heard her brothers laugh
Or hears her friends rejoice
She never hears a Christmas carol
Or a toy unwrapped
Though in view of social welfare
She’s not even handicapped
And now there comes upon the scene
Another hearing aid
But this one gives some promise
It’s the best so far they’ve made
But it costs a thousand dollars
It’s quite pricey, but she’s rapt
We ask help from social welfare
She’s not even handicapped
Now do not get me wrong in this
She’ll get the aid, you’ll see
It’s just the thing I’m pointing out
It’s the anomaly
That while children suffer deafness
A hard life is theirs to start
And it goes to prove the saying
Officialdom has no heart
Now I think I’ll close this letter
With a thought for you to bear
Of children with no hearing
And departments that don’t care
Kids are at a disadvantage
And in this you need not scoff
They are in a poor position
To rip the system off
So when you listen to a song
Or hear the singer clapped
Give no thought to those deaf people
They’re not even handicapped.
I found a lot of letters that he had written to me. He tells of the two biggest loves of his life – his grandfather and his dog, Sally. He recounted when he used to be out all day from sun up to sun down hanging out with Sally, catching rabbits.
The hand of time taps upon the consciousness
Of love once given and returned
Once killed by thoughtless youthfulness
The bane of youth and by moment, spurned
Those days were travelled far and wide
Where footloose heaven told of swathe well run
And threw ourselves panting, limbs flung wide
To catch our breath gasping in the sun
But later, older in my early youth
I moved, alone, upon another path
Leaving my home with conscience loose
And left my friend for seaboard craft
And so I left my friend, I’d grown away
To lose her life because I was not there
My friend, my love companion of another day
Put down, to die because of lacking care.
So conscience sword is sharp, comforts foe
To think of Sally, canine friend
Though it was sixty years ago
Thoughts still intrude of stupid end.
Poppa – I know Sally was waiting for you with your Grandfather. I know there was a happy reunion.
His letters made me smile when I needed it. Here is another poem he wrote just for me as he was writing the letter:
From us out here
To you out there
I bring you love
Express my care
For there’s no doubt
I know, you see
That you are one small part of me
But you are far
Though have no fear
A tenuous thread
Will hold you near
A fragile thing
That for your sake
But will not break
So close your eyes
And feel that tug
You’ll feel my arms
About you hug
And one day soon
Soon, you will see
That thread will pull you back to me.
I still feel that tug. And that tug will bring me back him wherever he is now.
He always ended his letters with a lot of kisses. I miss those kisses already.
The letters were written to me after he hadn’t written to anyone for about 50 years, and so I feel very privileged to have him write to me and pour his love to me.
With lowered lip and heavy heart
Its seems that all the worlds apart
With slanted look and throbbing head
It is as if the world were dead
Then beam of light not quite a glow
Makes optimism start to flow
Brings strengths return and you will see
It emanates from family
The light gets stronger all around
Where once it was that nature frowned
And you find family is there
To give you strength so you can bear
So your decisions fine by us
Though covered with prevailing fuss
For we are here and we believe
In you my girl so just receive
Our love, our hugs though you are far
For in our heaven, you’re our star.
He had the best sense of humour. Always had a twinkle in his eye. Always full of love for his family – where we always lined up to give him a kiss and a cuddle.
I am very privileged and honoured to have such a special man in my life for as long as I have. Those memories will always be cherished.
I love you Poppa, and I always will. I will see you someday soon and I expect the biggest hug from you.
Looking out to evenings twining cool
The softness filled with birds at roost
Takes my thoughts to far flung shores
Where thoughts of you gives love a boost
Unfinished and likely to stay so.
Poppa on Christmas Day, 2010. I laughed and laughed and laughed when I saw him come in the room looking like that.
Poppa and Granny on 25 August, 2012. He was dressed up as a sailor and Granny was dressed up as a herbalist for my niece's birthday party.