Goodnight Granddad

It goes without saying that this is a very hard post to write.  Indeed, if this was committed to paper there would be tear stairs making passages illegible.  On Monday 19th October just before 2 o’clock in the afternoon John Cathrall, husband, father, grandfather, friend, passed away at the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher.  John had been diagnosed with pleomorphic cell sarcoma in April and was told it was terminal in September.  Therefore, it was not unexpected however death always comes as a shock, and although it is the one thing that unites us, it seems that our culture tries to avoid the subject.

Somewhat ironically, considering that John was suffering from a terminal diagnosis, he had been in ‘good health’ recently and had been very active.  So the swiftness of his passing, although a blessing, has been hard to accept.  He was taken to Princess Alice Hospice in Esher on Saturday morning and never really regained consciousness.  For the 48 hours he was in the Hospice he was never alone, the family took it in turns to stay with him, even staying overnight on the Saturday and Sunday.  I would like to think that this was a great comfort to John in his finally hours, as although the staff at Princess Alice were fantastic and I can not praise them highly enough, family was very important to John and to be surrounded by his family must have filled him with pride and given him great warmth.

It goes without saying that John has left an enormous hole in our lives.  He was an extremely practical man and although it is right and proper that we are grieving he would not want us moping around, there are things to be done! He worked hard all his life whether that was in his trade as a builder, or upkeep around his own home and garden or the numerous jobs that his children and grandchildren gave him.

Not only did he work hard he played hard too. Not in the sense of cigarettes and alcohol (unless you include ginger beer or the odd pint of shandy) but in entertaining and being the life and soul of the party.  Whether that was being a monster scaring the grandchildren witless or sitting quietly reading a story with grandchildren on his knee, introducing a new generation to Tom and Jerry cartoons or offering tractor trailer rides around his garden.

He had a love of engineering and mechanics that transcended his hobbies, be that gliding, repairing tractors or his love of steam engines.  He was always there for advice, whether you wanted it or not, but you would have been a fool to dismiss any DIY advice and I personally learned some new techniques from the man. As Amélie said, ‘Who am I going to get to repair my toys now?’

I only knew John for 11 years but I looked upon him as the father that I missed growing into adulthood. This short essay does not do justice to the man but there is one thing left for me to say:

Thank you, John for welcoming me into your family and allowing me to marry your daughter.

Goodnight Granddad, sleep well you have deserved it.

Please feel free to pop over to John’s Muchloved site where you can share your own thoughts and tributes, or simply light a candle in memory of Granddad.

Manha, manha – Mud!

June has nearly been and gone and still no sign of summer.  Even last week’s Summer Solstice saw no let up in the unseasonably cold and wet weather indeed following the wettest April on record and a wet May this has been the wettest June on record.  Something that I am acutely aware of for last weekend I was camping on the Isle of Wight at the annual music festival.  As you may have seen in the media the heavy rain and tens of thousands of pairs of welly-clad feet churned the camping fields into a veritable mudbath.  Fortunately we avoided the traffic jams caused by the influx of visitors but need not avoid the rain while pitching our tents or the storm (45mph winds and 1 inch (25mm) of rain) that fell on the Saturday night.  So after 3 days of mud even the lure of Bruce Springsteen, The Vaccines, Noel Gallagher and other smaller acts was not enough for us to endure another 24 hours of inclement weather conditions. I was at Glastonbury in 1997 and 1998 so I have been there and done that and have no need to try and prove myself to anyone.  Lucinda and the girls were surprised but very pleased when a muddy, tired, welly-clad daddy walked through the doors just before noon on Sunday afternoon.

That was last weekend and obviously there has not been many updates this month so what else has been happening in June 2012? With the poor weather it has not been the best of months to galavant through the English countryside and indeed use our Merlin passes.  However, we are a stolid bunch with regards to the weather, being English you have to, and it did not prevent us from having a barbecue around Nanny and Granddad’s to celebrate Auntie Cristina’s 40th birthday.  We even dressed warmly and ate outside (thankfully it stayed relatively dry).

Éowyn returned to pre-school the next day with a lot of encouragement from Lucinda and me to be good.  Thankfully she has heeded this and so far this term we have had glowing reports about her behaviour.  I think because she is relatively clever, but also relatively big that she is used to getting her own way and gets frustrated when she doesn’t.  All part of growing up but still not good as a parent when you get called in because of her behaviour.  With this in mind we have enrolled her in gymnastics classes at Spelthorne gym.  Éowyn is very flexible (she will idly stuck her toes for instance) and forever pretending she is a gymnast and so we thought it would be good discipline couple with good exercise.  We asked Éowyn if she wanted to go to gymnastics and she became very animated and excited about the prospect.  The first time she went Lucinda was running late and so there was no time for Éowyn to think about what she was going to do and happily went in and thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact all week she was excited about going again, however the next week they arrived in good time and Éowyn became nervous and didn’t want to go in and Lucinda had to end up pushing her through the door.  It seems very cruel but it was what she needed and again she thoroughly enjoyed herself and so currently our eldest is a fully paid up member of British Gymnastics.

On the weekend between Cris’s birthday barbecue and the Isle of Wight music festival we paid a visit to West Bromwich and Nanny Fran’s. Éowyn has been asking lots of questions lately about my Dad (Granddad Vic).  For those of you that don’t now my Dad died in 1987 (25 years ago!) and so not only did Éowyn never meet him neither did Lucinda, since he passed away 20 years before we were married!  Obviously Éowyn realises that Lucinda has a mum and dad and I have a mum but where is my Dad, so we have been explaining it to her as best as we can.  So part of the journey was hopefully going to go to Dad’s grave and show her where he was buried and being Father’s day it seemed apt.  Unfortunately the weather was so poor that we never managed to go, hopefully next time.

Nevertheless a good time was had at Nanny Fran’s even though it was another flying visit.  It has been a little while since Nanny Fran had seen Amélie and at the moment Amélie is going through one of those rapid development stages and so kept Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz amused for the entire weekend.  Her vocabulary is growing, almost daily and she is now stringing words together to make sentences.  Usually surrounding food, things like: ‘My daddy, breakfast please.‘ which is her usual greeting in a morning.  Both girls love their families and they gt to see a lot of Lucinda’s side because we all live relatively close but because they don’t see Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz that often they do get very excited when they pop up to West Bromwich.  That is not the usual reaction West Bromwich gets from people in Surrey.

As you may remember Éowyn first cinema visit was in February to see the Muppets movie (a particular favourite of Daddy’s too).  This month saw the release of the film on Blu Ray and DVD and so it needed to be bought.  Since we have bought it, I think Éowyn has watched it half a dozen times at least.  It has definitely stuck in her brain because she will quite often burst into verses of Manha Manha, very amusing.  There is another song that Éowyn has become fond of singing and that is ‘You are my Sunshine.’  It may be that she has inherited her father’s love of music but unfortunately at the moment it seems as if she has also inherited my singing voicing.  Poor girl at least she has her gymnastics!

In addition to a lack of major days out, there is a dearth of photos since the last write up too, hence most of the below photos are from Cristina’s birthday party.  We will try harder for the next write up.

Peace and Love