The first love of my life was a bad-tempered old Irishman – he was my grandfather and l adored him.
There was a special bond between us from the time I was born – he was scared of me and I of him.
He was black-browed and craggy faced, and he frowned grumpily over his glasses. I was too little for him to feel comfortable with until I was over 6 months old.
Being his first grandchild, and a girl, made me special for the rest of his life.
Even after I was married, and had children of my own, he still saw it as his job to look after me. He loved me, listened to me and even, on occasion, valued my opinion. But in his heart of hearts I was still about 12 years old and needed taking care of.
But his protective instincts, and the generation gap, led to some embarrassing moments when I was younger. Here are a few examples:
I can remember being at the beach, about 15, in a bikini, frolicking amongst the waves, trying to attract the attention of the latest heart throb. Everything was wonderful, a teenage girl’s dream day. Then I glanced over at the water’s edge and there was my grandfather – on guard duty – to make sure I didn’t drown (or so he said). My Pa glowered at the boy, threw me my towel, and announced that we had to leave, now. I never saw that boy again – I wonder why?
My grandfather was a mad keen golfer and his “trusty 9 iron” was his weapon of choice in any given situation. I was in the shower one day when I caught sight of a giant spider in there with me, so of course, I screamed. My Pa came thundering in, and ordered me to the other side of the shower cubicle. With one hand over his eyes (because it wouldn’t be proper for him to see me naked) and the other swinging the 9 iron, he charged once again to the rescue. I could have been killed – and not by the spider!
When I was pregnant with my second child, my grandfather made his wishes very clear – he wanted a boy this time. There had not been a boy born into our family for nearly a quarter of a century. When I rang my grandparents to tell them I was in labour – my Pa suggested that I not allow the baby out until it was the correct gender, i.e. male. Can you imagine anyone actually having the nerve to say that to a woman in labour?
Only my grandfather…