Tuesday, June 13, 2006



Herhimnbryn, who has been in the UK on a visit from Australia, recently posted an account and photographs of her trip to the National History Museum of Wales, at St Fagans near Cardiff. This brought back so many memories of my grandfather who lived a few miles away ....

Very Welsh and from a large working-class family, Granddad was a warm, gregarious, infuriating, charming, man with forthright views. His passions were rugby and classical music, and he possessed a resonant bass singing voice that he used whenever the opportunity presented itself. He was equally fervent, though not enthusiastic, about the composition and performance of the Welsh rugby team of the moment, politicians, and men with long hair (this was the 1960s).

He was outgoing and communicative almost to a fault. He would strike up conversations with complete strangers at sports events, on the train, in restaurants ... a trait my mother inherited but which, in the main, has not reached me. I still marvel at the ease with which he was able to do this.

When his three children were still young the family moved with him to London, following a work promotion, and he stayed there for thirty years before returning to South Wales in his retirement. My mother and her brothers remained in England and lost their Welsh accents. Granddad kept his.

My grandmother died during World War II and a couple of years after her death he married again, this time to a Londoner. They suited each other. She would tease him mercilessly, which was very good for him. He apparently softened around her, and mellowed.

I was his only grandchild for my first ten years, and thus the focus of much of his love and attention. As a little girl, I adored him and the feeling was mutual. As I grew older, and my head caught up with my heart, some of that bonding loosened, though it never completely vanished. I was a teenager in the 1960s and there was no way that he and I were going totally to escape our differences.

This photo recently came to light when my sister and I were going through some family papers. It is his warmth, together with his passion, decisiveness and zest that stay with me; he faced each day full-on and wrung out the last drop of experience and pleasure from everything he did. That kind of energy and enthusiasm, the relish of the essence of life, is something I seek to embrace more and more urgently as the years slip by.

I haven't really inherited these particular genes from him; self-doubt gets in the way so very easily and I still elect to hover nervously on the sidelines too much of the time.

On other days though it all falls into place, and I break through the invisible barriers and dance.


Blogger leslee said...

What a nice memory. I'm sure you inherited some of that energy, too.

1:11 pm  
Blogger Endment said...

What treasures these memories are!
I am beginning to find photos of our family and to collect stories from those still living - how much we know and yet how very little we know about those dearest to us. Delightful memories you have shared of your granddad:)

1:18 pm  
Blogger Brenda said...

I loved this post, what beautiful memories, heartwarming and inspiring... and that's a special photograph.

5:19 pm  
Blogger LJ said...

God. What a beautiful post. And he has the kind of face you could look at for hours and hours.

6:54 pm  
Blogger Dale said...

That's so lovely.

10:42 pm  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Hallo M.
A lovely post ( and thankyou for mentioning my post). Your Granda sounded like a 'typical' Welshman in his passions!

11:50 pm  
Blogger rdl said...

"On other days though it all falls into place, and I break through the invisible barriers and dance." - I'm so glad you do! Great post!

2:14 am  
Blogger MB said...

What lovely memories to hold to and inspire you.

4:29 am  
Blogger chuck said...

I live for those days when my barriers come down and the DANCE
of LIVING becomes immanent.

Thanks for the sweet imagery...

7:23 am  
Blogger g said...

I love the picture and your tribute.

11:57 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you everyone. Yes, he was a real force of nature, my grandfather, and I look back on him with affection. I tried hard in this piece not to paint too rosy a picture. He was very human with virtues and weaknesses, as we all have.

But goodness, he did know how to live and to enjoy life.

8:51 am  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

As one nervous hoverer to another, I'm trying to be more like your granddad too. Thanks for this, Mary.

(I love the way he is leaning toward the child in the photo, as if he's thoroughly engaged.)

4:13 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank Patry. I'm glad I'm not the only chocolate-loving hoverer!

And yes, the child is me. I'm so glad you picked up his attentiveness and engagement. That was so much part of him - living in the moment ....

4:43 pm  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Beautiful post - lovely photograph. I think your grandpa would be proud that you let go and dance, sometimes, and in your own way. Men like that are the plinth of a good family. You're blessed.
Sorry I haven't been by in a while - as ever, I love your blog but I have been overwhelmed in recent months...

1:08 am  

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