Friday, October 19, 2007

My Grandfathers

This week's theme for Flashback Friday.

My mum's father was called Grandad by us. He was a father to seven children. The youngest was nine-ish when I was born, which might explain his relaxed hold on me.

He was in the Navy for a while and he was a lawyer. But I knew him mainly as a judge. Which is maybe why I was slightly awed by him. I loved him but I always felt I needed to behave well in his presence.

When I did my Post-Graduate Diploma in Melbourne, I studied in a building with his surname. It took me a year to realise it was actually named after my Grandfather. I really wanted to tell him that, about how proud that made me feel, but it was several years too late by then. And maybe he would have minded that I was unaware that he was so important people named buildings after him? I don't know. We grew up in another state, so we saw him once or twice a year on average.

As well as being a judge, he was also a Sir. I remember when he came to Canberra to be knighted by the Governor-General.

As he aged he became a much softer person. My mother and aunts occasionally joked about how his eyes would fill with tears and his voice would break when he remembered his own mother. Family was important to him. He gave me a photo album with significant photos in it, so that I would know about my family. He started putting together the family tree. When he became very ill he held on until he felt he had settled his 2 youngest children satisfactorily. When he lay dying, Mum told me took everyone's hands and kissed them, his last good-bye.

He liked to give books as presents. He loved salt on his meals - even when the heart doctor told him to cut it out he still lavishly seasoned his dinner using salt-substitute. He was glad that I learned piano. He talked to me seriously. He didn't tease.

My Dad's father we called Grandpa. I remember him as soft-spoken but maybe this is because he was on oxygen during the last few years of his life. I think he was the sort of person who really loved small children, who wanted them to sit by him and found them funny. I remember laughter about him, a sort of happy chuckle.

He was a Mister Fixit too, he worked on the Olympic Village for the 1956 games. He volunteered for the Red Cross after he retired. I do that now. I only just made that connection.

I think he and Grandma did 'outings' for us, like taking us to Luna Park and to see Phar Lap at the Museum.


It's funny the things you remember, isn't it? It's been 26 years since Grandpa died and 19 years since Grandad died, which is all my adult life. So I only have these childish memories; feelings, and impressions. My knowledge of both of them is second-hand, almost. I can still hear their voices and picture them quite clearly though.


  1. This is lovely Stomper.

    You are lucky to have those memories. 3 of my 4 grandparents died before I knew them, well, at least, remembered them.

    My last grandparent (my grandmother) died when I was 14 and it wasn't until 4 years later that I got "into" doing the family history. I regret not having her for a while longer so I could ask her about her solo trip from Scotland to Australia and her life.

  2. What a lovely post! If they don't already read your blog, you must show this to your parents. They would be thrilled, I am sure.

    Thanks for sharing.

    - Heidi

  3. Thanks for sharing your lovely memories of your grandfathers. And they are beautiful photos.

  4. What a great post. I have very fond memories of my grandfather. But I have no photos of him about the place. You have inspired me to get of my a... and make sure I get some from mum next time I see her.
    Have a great weekend and thanks for sharing

  5. Wow! - great stories and insight !

    My limited resources and limited family ties have made me not very good at FB Friday these days...

  6. You speak with dignity about two obviously dignified men.


  7. A lovely post Stomper. Thank you for sharing your memories of your grandfathers.

  8. Darling it is lovely, as everybody has already mentioned.

    Which means it falls to me to say....

    Post graduate diploma? Excuse me?

  9. Beautiful, beautiful post.

    They look like neat people.

  10. Aw, what lovely memories. I'm lucky enough to still have one of my grandfathers, but since I was 13 he has lived a couple of thousand miles away so most of my memories of him are childhood ones, too. I should give him a call soon.

  11. Beautiful! One of my grandfather's died when I was not quite four. He was very, very quiet, but he always took me to get the mail at the post office on Sundays. I missed it when he was gone.

    I was fortunate enough to have my other grandfather until I was 26! He too was a quiet man. But he set such a wonderful example for me in the way he lived his life with dignity and care and purpose. He was a lovely person and everyone in our small town respected him so much for his integrity. Thank you for prodding me to remember them.

  12. Touching, interesting post.

    It's a shame that often, when we're old enough to truly get to know our grandparents, they pass away. However, perhaps we can view our childhood memories through the filter of adulthood and learn a bit more about them.

  13. What a lovely post, Stomper!
    Wonderful tributes to your grandfathers.

  14. By the way, who is the lady on the far left of the photo?

    She looks like a stern you.

  15. That's my mother, in one of her rare periods as a brunette

  16. She's not really stern, I think it's the specs...

  17. Lovely photos and a really beautiful post, Stomper.
    Its a sad fact of life I think that its only as we age and become parents ourselves that we realise how our grandparents have influenced who we are.
    Your grandfather in the bottom picture has a lovely, kind face.

  18. Grandparents really are so special - the sad thing is that they are often not around when we are adults and would really be so interested in them and their past stories.
    All my grandparents passed away before i was 21 and I regret not spending more quality time with them.

  19. Beautiful.

    I love my grandfather SO much I feel weak and shakey just thinking about him dying.

    Your grandfathers sound wonderful. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  20. Sounlike two wonderful gentlemen. You are lucky to remember them.One of my grandfathers died before I was born, the other when I was only three or four. Great pictures too ! You sure were a cute baby....

  21. Obviously meant "sounds like"...!

  22. A heartfelt tribute to both your grandfathers. Lovely.
    I remember only one grandfather, he died when I was about 8.
    And both my grandmothers were gone before I was born.

  23. I never knew my Grandfathers, long gone before I came along. I did have a step Grandfather though, I used to like watching him roll his cigaretttes, Mum never liked him though. He was an alcoholic and she was sent to boarding school to escape his influence.

    Anyway, is that you as a baby? You were a very very cute baby.

  24. Lovely post.

    Funny how there are threads of continuity throughout all aspects of our lives.

  25. What a great post. I should do more posts like this - sharing my memories instead of sharing what I had for breakfast. LOL

  26. Can't really add anything that hasn't already been said. Such lovely memories.

  27. What lovely memories. Isn't it funny how distinctly different two people that hold the same title in your life can be? Mine very different from each other too.

    I lost my dad's father 4 years ago, my mom's father 2 years ago, and my mom's mom 1 year ago. I was so lucky to have them all in my life for so long. I miss them everyday, but cherish the memories I will always have.

  28. This is such a beautiful post. I, like you, have few memories of my Papa, but I remember his smell, the feel of his skin, his smile, and how much I loved him. This is enough... I don't need to remember the details.

    I loved this post (made me quite teary). Thanks for sharing all of this. xx


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