Yesterday, I spent some time with the cool older relatives of my partner. It reminded me of conversations I would have with my grandparents (god rest their souls). It left a slightly melancholy feeling with me that I wanted to explore a little by celebrating my grandparents.
My nan passed away when I was too young to really know her. She knew me as a dimple-cheeked kid with the boniest knees going but it’s not the same as being able to have a rational conversation with someone. She was great. Very kind and sweet, a terrible cook and a big fan of films. I remember my grandparents’ house having a lot of old VHS tapes that they would let us watch before playing in their garden after they’d put fertiliser down. The early nineties were a different age.
When she passed, it left my grandad on his own and he didn’t really know how to deal with it, and didn’t know how to be around us. Regardless of that, I only ever remember seeing him immaculately turned out (even if, towards the end, when the dementia got to him, he smelt slightly and his hair was unkempt). Each time he drove over (in his DeathMobile), he would present us with a bottle of sparkling alcohol-free wine drink called Moscato Fizz and would do circuits around the house so he could fart in peace. He taught me a lot about what I thought were Dutch cultural ways but were in fact just his eccentricities. For years I thought all dutch men ate sandwiches with a knife and fork. While he was around into my twenties, it was hard to connect to him. There are a few items of his that I have, his old typewriter and a hat.
My mum’s parents were always the life and soul, even if my grandpa wanted to be miserable. They had lived many lives by the time I came along and were full of stories. They insisted on talking over one another to tell those stories and it always filled me with excitement to watch them pingpong across like the old couples in When Harry Met Sally.
My grandpa’s favourite TV show was The Sopranos. I didn’t understand the relevance of this at the time but as I approach the end of Season Six, I recognise that it must have been all the cocaine, topless dancers and violence that really did it for him.
My grandma was possibly the best cook I have ever known. She was a tiny lady who only ever saw the good in us, even if we were absolute terrors. I could talk to her about my various relationships and she never judged.
It’s also worth noting that they were vegetarian, something unheard of at the time. I wish I could show them both what I’ve learnt to make, from their inspiration.
I guess what I am saying is that if you have family around, and you’re able to deal with them (because I know some people can’t) then please embrace it. I miss having people in my life who call me a genius unabashedly, when I am far from it. They were my biggest cheerleaders and I miss ’em.
My connection to the past and the root of who I am now.