I’m not even sure where to start with this. My mind and my heart are overcome with emotion.
I’m missing my grandfather today. It comes along every now and again; I’ll think of him from time to time, then a day will come where my eyes fill with tears and I cry for him. Openly, unashamed, like a child, freely.
My grandfather, was Herbert Leonard Green. My grandmother called him Herbie, as did I. No one questioned the fact that I didn’t call him Grandpa, or Grandfather. No one stopped me from calling him by his first name. None of my other cousins did this, and if they had tried I would have quickly put a stop to it. My parents tell me that I even went so far as to tell my grandmother that he was MY Herbie. No one argued with me.
I loved him so. With the kind of unconditional adoring love that only children know. Before we grow up and feel the sting of broken hearts and broken promises, this is how love is. My childhood was tumultuous. A lot of moving from place to place. One parent here, one there. A lot of stress from a very young age. When I was about 4, we moved to Jamaica (where my family is from). A lot went on while we were there. I was an only child, shy, quiet. I think my grandfather understood me, in a way no one else did.
In the midst of all the insanity swirling around me, he was a tranquil sea. Sometimes he picked me up from school and we went back to his office for a couple of hours. He’d give me chocolate to eat while I watched him work. At home (we lived in my grandparents house for a while) he told me stories and poems, from memory, from his childhood. He sang me songs while I sat on his lap. At night before bed, he would make me a big cup of Milo, a chocolate mix. I remember kneeling beside my grandparent’s bed, grandma on one side, Herbie on the other, while we said bedtime prayers. And I felt safe, with him there.
After we came back to Canada, I didn’t see him very often. We didn’t get back to Jamaica more than once every couple of years. And I’d go visit my grandparents for a few hours. And I still loved him with that childlike love, even as a teenager. He died in his 80s; Cancer. We knew he was going, and he had said he didn’t want any meds, no fancy care, just for us to let him go. He’d had a long, fulfilling life, he didn’t want to prolong the inevitable.
My parents lived out of the country at the time. When he was gone, my mom called my aunt, who came to me and broke the news. I was 21/22, but I bawled like a baby. I went to his funeral, and I was fine, it’s like he was there, just out of reach. We were at my grandparents house after, everyone laughing and sharing stories about him. And I kept looking around, expecting him to come out from his room, to be at the table, to sit with me and sing to me a song in his sweet, smooth voice….
I’ll be 45 in November. My Herbie has been gone over 20 years now. I miss him. Really miss him. He’s gone, but my love for him carries on.
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