Bampa 

Farmer Giles looked up in the sky, just as a bird pooed in his eye, said Farmer Giles “Thank goodness cows can’t fly”

My grandad died the other week, after a short spell in hospital. He was 86, and when he was admitted it was clear that his time was coming to an end.

The poem at the start is something my Bampa told us when we were kids and in the days after his passing popped into my sister’s head.

Memories are what we are left with when a loved one passes on. Memories which define how we carry on the person inside us.

My grandad and I didn’t always get on. As I grew into a lazy, geeky teen he must have felt that we had little in common. Bampa had worked since he was 14, and was a traditional man in many ways, he could make things, he could fix things, and I suspect he saw me as soft. My long hair annoyed him and he’s often tell me that “two years in the army” would sort me out.

But I know he loved me. And all of his family. He didn’t say it, I don’t think he knew how. He came from a time when men didn’t talk about their feelings, or even admit they had them.

But we knew. It was there in the fact he always asked how we were doing, in the small kind moments and the way he was with us. The pride he had in the achievements of his kids and grandkids. He was never soft, but there was warmth and gentleness there.

He and my Nan were married for over 50 years, and they seem to have spent most of that time bickering. If there is an afterlife they’ve probably started back up again.

I choose to remember Bampa in his house with my Nan. Winking at us as he deliberately wound her up or teased her. Of telling us the same jokes over and over, but his delight in them and the delivery always raising a smile even if you groaned first. 

I remember him telling stories, either of his childhood mischief, no doubt exaggerated, or made up yarns which kept us hooked and begging for a few more minutes before bed. Stories of magic and ghosts, which we lapped up.

I’ll remember him whenever I watch football. 

Remember the wooden goal he built in the garden so we could play, of his coaching in how to pass and head. Of his criticism of divers and talk of how it had been “in his day”, when the ball was heavy and the rules more relaxed. 

His patience when I bounced around on the sofa jabbering away, trying to copy the players I loved. I’ll remember sitting next to him and my Dad at the Vetch when they took me to my first Swansea game. It rained, but I didn’t care. We won and I loved the noise and feeling grown up.

I’ll remember him and it won’t matter that he’d believe and jump on every health far the paper told him. Or that he gave me grief about my long hair.

I’ll remember him for the hero he was to me as a kid, and the man I understood better as an adult. I’ll love him for being my Bampa, and a central figure in countless happy memories.

RIP Bampa.

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