17 May

He would go up the Lane and back again like clockwork.; flat cap, three piece pin striped suit, raincoat and tartan scarf. He was frail and slow. I knew he was going to the Blackhorse Pub to play bowls. Sometimes I would notice him, sometimes not. I was always involved in street games with a pack of other youngsters. He may or may not have noticed me. It did not matter.

We were never destined to get to know each other. Too great was the gap of time between us, so when my Granddad died I missed only that physical presence of which I had always been aware,  We had never interacted as people.

However, my mother did not let it end there.  I learned a lot about my Granddad’s life through her memories, scattered throughout our conversations; ‘Your Granddad used to say …’  or ‘Your Granddad always told us ….’  were familiar and often repeated phrases followed by memories which grew with me until I had a store enough to know a little more about the man I never knew.

I could picture him as my mother saw him for the first time returning from War, crossing the field at the top of Ulster Road, to rejoin his wife and children after years away. I could hold the paint brushes which had been the tools of his trade; and feel his anxiety as he waved his sons off to fight in World War Two.  But I was later to discover that my Granddad had memories he never mentioned; too painful to talk about, even to his daughters.



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