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My awesome grandad flew in Wellingtons in the war. Damn, those shortages were terrible. Tell us about brilliant-stroke-rubbish grandparents.

Suggested by Buffet the Appetite Slayer

(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 21:51)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

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See if I've beat little sister to this...
Both our Grandads died within 6 weeks of each other last year. As with any death/funeral, it is amazing how much of the deceaseds life turns out to be any mix of awesome, frightening and fascinating.

First to go was Grandad on Dads side. Used to visit maybe an afternoon every year (lived 200 miles north, bit of a trek). When I was little we usually went to see his allotment, until he got too old for it. Used to keep chickens too. Me being a Derbyshire lad and him an Ashington coal miner meant we could barely understand each other, so often Dad had to translate. Just another old coal miner it seemed...

He started down one of the pits round Ashington aged 14. I forget which one. At 18 he joined the Northumberland Hussars, he was one of the last mounted cavalrymen. When horses were withdrawn from combat he retrained in the artillery. During WW2 he served in India on the northwwest frontier, and learned to ride camels in the maldives. He narrowly avoided being sent to Burma, just as his unit was moving someone realised that, because he'd volunteered before the war, he should have gone home months ago! Anyone who knows of what happened in Burma will appreciate what a lucky escape he had.
After the war, he was involved in cleaning up the concentration camps. This only came out when little sister went to Auschwitz as part of an A level history trip (the name of the one grandad helped clean up escapes me, began with a B I think). He told us how the Jewish woman were asked what things they needed. As well as food and medicine, they asked for lipstick. After years of being sub-human, being able to start looking nice for the allied soldiers was a huge help in getting back to a normal life.

Another tale comes second hand from Dad. When he (Dad) was little, the family went out for one of these newfangled Indian meals (this would have been sixties I think). So there they were, happily demolishing a curry, whilst an Indian family sat next to them were talking in their own tongue. Grandad was looking at them a bit odd, and kept doing so. Eventually he butted into their conversation, in the same language. Turned out they were discussing a battle that he had fought at. When he had explained all that they invited Grandad to join them, and were very pleased to meet someone who had fought for them, and remembered the language.

And finally...Grandad always loved horses. A few months before he died, his retirement home took him to a disabled riding school to have one last ride. There's an article here: www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2010/02/26/cavalryman-george-spowart-92-rides-for-last-time-61634-25917972/

If anyone involved is reading-thankyou. I just wish I'd got to know him better.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 13:44, 12 replies)
Gran and sex
I was with gran in town one day and she was booking a coach trip. The girl on the counter asked is she wanted a double bed or two singles. Gran turned around and said 'A double bed please dear, my Albert can still get the job done'.

Me and the counter lass both blushed massive shades of red.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 0:29, 2 replies)
Reposted for a second time as it is relevant to Q:
I've posted this before
...but this REALLY hurts.

My Grandfather was an English professor - in the 70s it was his expert testimony that enabled the Sex Pistols to call their LP 'Never Mind The Bollocks' as he attested 'bollocks' was not technically an obscene word.

The band gave him a copy of the LP signed by them all, thanking him for his pivotal assistance.

My lovely old gran gave it to Oxfam in the 80s, unplayed.

AaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaAAAAARRRRGhhHHHHH!!!!


Incidentally during the trial the prosecution tried to belittle my grandfather; 'so, you're an expert on the word 'bollocks' are you?', they asked him (he was wearing his vicar's dog collar for added effect).

'Oh, no', he replied, 'I can tell you all about 'fuck' and 'shit' too'.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 10:54, 3 replies)
The Doctor
My grandfather was a bit of an inspiration to be honest. The son of a local village vicar, when he was about six years old he tripped on an exposed tree-root and fractured his arm. Although x-rays were extremely experimental in those days, he managed to have his arm checked out by one which was then put in a cast for six weeks (the arm, not the x-ray). During those six weeks he continually moaned about how much his arm was hurting but was told, with the typical bluntness of the mid ‘20’s to put up or shut up.

When the cast was removed from his arm, it revealed a huge mess. The x-ray had fused the wrist bones together, along with the fingers of his left hand, and burnt the skin from wrist to elbow. He endured several years of what can only really be described as incredibly painful surgery (a lot of it was eventually re-worked by Dr. Archie McIndoe for any of you that know about plastic surgery). For all of this, he was rewarded with, iirc, £2,000 compensation from the hospital.

So what would you do in that situation? He was left with a crippled left arm, had missed altogether about 3 years of education and was still in considerable pain. He decided that rather than see anyone else put through the same sort of thing he would become a doctor himself.

To say he saw a lot in his life is a massive understatement. He studied during the Second World War, and was on fire-watch duty when an incendiary bomb hit the Royal College of Surgeon’s hospital at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in ’41 and was the first doctor on the scene. He was the Police Doctor in Jersey for 25 years, spearheading the use of forensics by the police in the hunt for the Beast of Jersey. He was the only official doctor on the scene after the Jersey Airlines crash which killed all bar one on board. But he also saw a lot of life – 5 kids, 12 grand-children and at least 3 great-grandchildren by the time he died.

And the favourite hobby for a man with a pretty-much unusable left-arm? Driving. After the age of around 30, the only cars that he drove were Rolls Royce’s, Daimlers or Talbots. He was the epitome of old-school style, his manners were impeccable and he enjoyed life to the full. I have so many fantastic memories of the man, mostly him sitting in his arm-chair watching his family all around with a gentle smile on his face, waiting for the chime of 5p.m. from the grandfather clock in the hallway when a tumbler of whiskey would appear in his hand as if by magic (although in reality, helped there somewhat by his stalwart wife, my Grandmother) - my favourite memory however was simply chatting to him, man-to-man when I must have been only about six years old about the qualifications on his wall.

He was a true patriarch of his family. He sat at the head of any table he ate at, and deservedly so. He was treated with respect from all that knew him. At his funeral, we had a full police escort from his house to the church – motorbike outriders to stop traffic and cars flanking a convoy of his RR Corniche III, RR Wraith and ’37 Talbot driven by his kids and with the rest of his family packing them out. He had a guard of honour formed by the Police and St. John’s ambulance, with the latter’s flag draped over the coffin, and the church itself had people standing outside because there wasn’t even standing room left inside.

Apologies for the length and the lack of amusement, but it’s been seven or eight years now and I still miss him, along with all of my grand-parents – even the one I never knew. I’m not an emotional person, but I have tears in my eyes as I remember him. I could add so much more – I have a copy of his memoires still, and think I may read them again soon.

Thanks for the opportunity to share.
(, Mon 6 Jun 2011, 15:38, 2 replies)
Back in the glorious Fifties, my Grandparents drove in rallies, including the Monte Carlo
And of the two of them, my Grandmother was the better driver, and double-declutched all her life, even in the little 1.1 Fiesta she had in her seventies.

But this tale harks back to a time before a proliferation of kids (and affairs) bogged down my grandparents' relationship, and one glorious spring day the two of them are racing their way through the sinuous Alpine curves, my Grandfather droning out a steady stream of Lefts, Rights, Dips and Warnings, and my Grandmother blipping the throttle and snicking the gear lever back and forth. They made a formidable team, and were making excellent time.

The tale goes that, as my grandmother came flying around a mountain bend, they were confronted by a Bentley across the road. And by across the road I mean bumper up against the cliff face, boot hanging precariously over the edge of the mountain, and barely a smidgen of space to manoeuvre the car back onto the straight.

"I say old bean," says an appropriately plummy character as my grandparents pull up, "don't suppose you could help us out a bit, could you?"

With a gentlemanly smile, my grandfather rolled up his sleeves, leant in, undid the handbrake and with one shoulder shove, sent the Bentley tipping over the cliff edge. Before the gobsmacked driver could give vent to his complaint, he was told "There's a race on, and you're holding me up."
He was bedgrudgingly given a lift to the bottom of the mountain ("despite the weight he added", I'm told). Upon stepping out, he thanked my grandparents curtly and added as a parting comment:

"If you ever come to Austria I will have you shot. Good day."
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 12:23, 3 replies)
The true story of how my grandad met my grandmother.
My Grandad once had the great fortune to meet a beautiful young woman from Spiddel in the west of Ireland very brieflly. He lived in Dublin at the time and knew nothing about her other than her name- Kathleen Naughton, and where she lived- Spiddel.

So being an enterprising young man he wrote her a love letter telling her how he felt about her and that he wanted to see her again. He adressed it to Kathleen Naughton- Spiddel Galway. What he didn't know was that this was quite a rural area, and people had a tendancy to name each other after immediate relatives, whats more there were several Naughton families in the area. As a result there were dozens of Kathleen Naughtons in the area. To avoid problems people in the locality refered to each other by their first name, and instead of their surnames, by their father, grand father and great grandfathers first names instead. (she was Kathleen Tom, Michael, Eoin for what its worth.)He being a city slicker did not know this.

For two years the letter was circulated between every every Kathleen Naughton in the area- from Spinsters as old as 90 to girls as young as 12 until it reached the right woman. She read the letter and finally agreed to meet him. Then he saw her better looking sister and married her instead. And that is the true story of how my grandad met my grannie- Mary Naughton.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 5:09, 1 reply)
My grandparents
Are now both in their 70s, and I love them both dearly. They both grew up in a fairly rough area of Glasgow, Govan, but back in those days it wasn't so bad as it is now.

My Gran's father was Italian, and he was a raging, alcoholic wifebeater. My poor great gran suffered many years at his hands, but he would never touch the kids. They were reasonably well off for the times; they used to get hot soup and bread and butter from home brought into school for them each day. My gran was a mischevious child - she once threw a cat off a nine story building because she wanted to see if it had nine lives. She also once pushed her aunt into a bucket of wet cement, and on another occasion pushed the aforementioned aunt into the snow, and shovelled snow up her skirt. She left school young, 15 or so, and worked up till about five years ago.

My grandad was one of twelve kids - four of which died young, so he was one of eight really. In contrast to my gran, they were dirt poor - certainly no hot soup for them, it was whatever they could salvage. My grandad also left school young, and worked as a pipe-fitter for decades.

They both met for the first time at a wedding, aged around 17 - he was the best man and she was the maid of honour. The night before the wedding, all members of the wedding party were sat around in my grandads mums house, playing cards. My grandad make a joke at my grans expense, and she responded by giving him what she swears to this day was a slight push on the shoulder. He says it was a shove, as he fell off the chair, and the chair broke on his way down. He said that right then, in that moment, he knew he was going to marry her one day.

And he did! They married one year later, and had my uncle another year later, when they were 19. My uncles birth was a traumatic one - my gran was kept in hospital for seven weeks afterwards. Immediately after he was born, the doctors took my grandad aside and told him to start planning a funeral, as his son was going to die. Thankfully he held on, the fat bastards alive and kicking today. The whole experience was that traumatic for my gran, she swore she would ever have children again. Thank heavens for accidents, as she gave birth to my mum three years later, and without her I wouldn't be here ( and wouldn't that be a massive shame...!)

My granparents were grafters, they worked hard their entire lives. My grandad worked as a pipe fitter, working all hours and travelling all over the country. My gran worked as a cleaner, in a bakers, whatever was available. My mum remembers her childhood as being filled with laughter, food, and love. My gran makes the best home made soup you've ever had. They are the most sociable people you will ever meet- walking down the street with them, they always bump into someone - they seem to know everyone in Glasgow. I remember being wee and forever being taken on trips with them, or playing with them in the park, or even just going round to theirs for tea and a 'piece and jam'. Gran would sing us daft scottish songs and make us giggle all night.

The years went on, as they do, with them retiring with a nice wee lump of money, and they used to take holidays about six times a year. Until drama unfolded when my grandad has a massive heart attack. He was a smoker, and it had finally caught up with him. He needed a triple bypass, and it was touch and go whether or not he was going to make it. He pulled through, and quit the fags. Five years later though - lung cancer. Advanced enough that they had to just take his whole lung out. The scar is a fucking monster - starts underneath his ribs and travels all round his shoulder to the top of his neck. Obviously only having one lung reduces his ability to do everyday tasks, and he cant jet off on a plane like he used to, but doctors are amazed by his recovery. My gran still has him bringing her breakfast in bed every morning! And three years ago, they hired a massive camper van with two friends and drove it all over Europe - how many people in their lives have ever done that, never mind doing it in their 70s?

But obviously now, my grandparents are getting older. It might sound stupid to say but to me my grandparents have always been young - my gran was only 45 when I was born, so they've always been young and fit and able in my head, not white haired wizened oldies. Watching them get older, iller and less able is heartbreaking to me.

My grandparents are amazing role models to me. They never let the bad stuff get them down, they worked through it and came out wiser and stronger and happier. They are both still incredibly positive people. They both worked so fucking hard, raised a wonderful family, all while being two of the most kindhearted, loving, funny, wonderful people to be around. They're incredibly accepting, non judgemental people - I'd feel happier introducing a new boyfriend to them than I would to my own mum. They've always been blissfully in love - they've been together for 50 years and still tell each other they love each other every day. They are a definition of soulmates.

My grandparents fucking rock.
(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 22:33, 1 reply)
My Gran = Awesome. This post contains many words.
I wrote this eulogy for my Gran almost exactly a year ago.

"My earliest memory of my gran is of my dad warning us to watch her on the roads and make sure she crossed them properly. I used to think this was his sneaky way of making sure me and my brother remembered to use the Green Cross Code, but after many years of having to stop her striding out in to the middle of the roads amidst heavy traffic, listening to her constant refrain of ‘I’ll cause more damage to that car than it’ll cause to me’, I’m not so sure.

Gran was the most independent, headstrong, stubborn, exasperating and bloody-minded women I have ever known. She was also one of the kindest. She never backed down from an argument, or confrontation. She wasn’t impressed by wealth, social status or job-titles, and I have seen her give many a jumped-up jobsworthsuch a telling-off, that they would silently contemplate a change in career or early retirement rather than run the risk of having to deal with her again. There are people who work for Manchester City Council who visibly pale (and occasionally curl into the foetal position and weep) at the very mention of her name. Rightly so – she was a formidable woman.

If I was to stand here and talk about her many and varied encounters with people in authority, I’d be here all week. Probably all year. So I shall keep it brief.

When I was ten years old, and she took me and my brother to our first proper demonstration. It was the first time I’d really heard my Gran swear, and it was in connection with what she’d like to do with the Poll Tax and Maggie Thatcher. She marched all day, and her anger was truly genuine. I think that tells you all you need to know about my Gran and where she stood.

It wasn’t always politics that roused her bolshy streak though. Litter was another of her pet hates, especially when it was outside her block of flats, spoiling the view from her balcony. I remember my Uncle Jeff complaining one evening about the fact that his security officers had been pulled off their normal duties to clear the litter around the Barclay’s Bank building where they worked. ‘Some woman came in complaining’ apparently, saying she was going to write a letter to head office unless something was done about the rubbish dumped in the shrubs.

As my Uncle waxed lyrical about mithering old ladies, it slowly dawned on my dad who had made the complaint. Head in hands, he confessed that the woman was indeed my Gran. I don’t know who was more mortified – my Uncle for possibly causing terrible offence by complaining about Gran, or my dad for the fact that myGran had read the riot act in her own inimitable style! It worked though. The rubbish was cleared, the security officers got some fresh air, and my gran’s view was once more unspoiled.

My gran never gave up on a cause she believed in and she never ‘put up and shut up’ for an easy life. It wasn’t in her nature. She never cared what people thought of her, she just did what she felt was the right thing to do. She would fight battles for those unable to fight for themselves, and she never turned her back on a situation she knew to be unfair.

She was a single mother who worked hard all her life to provide for her children. She was passionate about politics and the rights of the working class, and never let anyone make her ashamed of who she is and where she is from.

I love her to bits.

She’s given me four very important bits of advice: -

1) Always earn enough to pay your own rent, even if your husband or partner is paying it for you - you never know when you will need to be independent.

2) Never let any man talk down to you. Ever. They’ll never earn the right to make you feel stupid.

3) Love as much as is humanly possible, with no guilt, no shame, and no regrets. She taught me that I should be with someone because I wanted to be there, not because someone forced me into it, and that to deny myself love because I was ashamed, or worried about what people would think was stupid.

4) People in power only hold that power because you allow them to. If they abuse that power, you can take it away from them. This applies to relationships, employers, landlords, councils and the Government.

She would walk for miles to find the perfect spot for a picnic. If she heard of a good park, she’d not rest until she took us – and even at 65 years old, she always beat us to the swings. She blatantly cheated when pulling crackers at Christmas, and if you did manage to win, she had absolutely no shame in pinching your prize. She was sneaky too, and had sharp elbows if it looked like you might put up a fight.

In short, my Gran was awesome.

She was my playmate, my conspirator, my confidante but most of all, she was my best friend. To put those words in the past tense is more painful than I can say.

I will miss her.
(, Sun 5 Jun 2011, 23:10, 4 replies)
Fisting
My nana (she will not be called Grandma, as apparently that makes her sounds old...she's 87) is awesome. Best thing about her? She is totally accepting of me being a shirtlifter. From me being 14, she's always asked loads of questions, welcomed my partners and last year, she attended my civil partnership and bloody loved it (though she did ask for chips and chips only at the restaurant later, love it). Best part of all this? I grew up in a tiny little backwards village where if you didn't have webbed fingers you were 'different' and well, tolerance isn't exactly skyhigh. She doesn't care though, and happily regales the W.I with tales of her grandson and his husband.

But to bring it round to the subject I've given this little post, she did turn to me about two years ago and ask me what fisting was. I have no idea where she heard the word given she only goes as far as the post office and the village hall, and the average age of resident in that village is roughly 95, but there you go.

I convinced her it was the name for that little 'fist-bump' greeting people sometimes give to one another. Which, I suppose, in a way...it is. I just hope it doesn't lead to her 'fisting' other members of the W.I.

I love my nana.
(, Wed 8 Jun 2011, 12:26, 21 replies)
My great grandfather was an army chaplain during the First World War.
He survived the whole thing, the carnage, the waste, the horror, and then was reported MIA in the last week - the last week - after going into No Man's Land to administer last rites.

His then-girlfriend received a telegram two weeks later, saying.

NOT DEAD STOP HOME TUESDAY STOP WILL YOU MARRY ME STOP.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 12:44, 40 replies)
Evil Nanna
My Nan, still around, is a bit of a character and often gets her words wrong, for example: 'Them Americans drive courgettes, don't they?' and 'Bloody druggies and their crap pipes'.

Anyway, I have loads of stories about her but the most notable one happened when I was about 8 years old.

She and Grandpa Roy lived in a block of flats in Walderslade in Chatham and around the flat was a large grassed area where the local kids played football. Recently they had taken to kicking the ball against the side of the block which infuriated Nanna, conseqently she spent a lot of her time standing on her balcony shaking her fist at the kids and telling them to 'sod off'.

One Sunday, Mum, Dad my little sister and I trundled round there for one of Nannas Sunday roasts and when she opened the door my poor 8 year old eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. She was wearing an apron, but not just any old apron, this was an apron with a pair of rubberised double D boobies on the front and a curious flap at groin level.

As the adults made small talk and we terrorised her two pet terrapins, the thud from the football being kicked against the side of the block of flats became louder and more persistent so Nanna, with a look of fury on her face, marched out of the flat and round to the kids and shouted 'OI, CLEAR OFF YOU LITTLE SODS BEFORE I SEND MY ROY DOWN HERE TO GIVE YOU A BLOODY GOOD HIDING.....' She trailed off, staring at the startled little row of 'O' shaped mouthes and eyes in front of her and the realisation that she was standing there in The Apron dawned upon her.

She chuckled, gave a raunchy wiggle, planted her feet hip width and placed her hands on her hips and then lifted the flap, which contained a rubberised willy complete with pubes and ballbag, gave a pelvic thrust and shouted 'COOOOOEEEEEEEEE' as the little moppets scattered never to return.

From our vantage point on the balcony, Mum, Dad and Grandpa Roy were doubled over with mirth and my sister and I were absolutely dumbstruck. She was awesome!
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 11:01, 3 replies)
"What have you been cooking in this frying pan..?
"...it took me ages to get it clean!"

"It's one of those 'new' non-stick pans, grandma. It was supposed to be black."
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 11:06, 1 reply)
Pearost
I see my extended family a few times a year - most major holidays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Everyone shows up to my grandpa's house around mid-afternoon, we all talk and joke and pun while having a few beers. Over the years, the family dinners have grown, as we kids have gotten older, found significant others, had children, etc.

At dinner, we have more wine, which is when the pun contests really begin. My grandpa is the one to beat - he's one of the cleverest people I've ever met and can make a brilliant pun out of almost anything. Of course, now that I try to think of an example, my mind is blank. But to give you an idea of just how clever he is, here is a limerick he wrote for a contest where you had to write a limerick that ended with a famous person's name:

George W. Bush, with a scowl,
Called Saddam Hussein something foul.
When told to go easy,
He said, "You're too queasy,
"You should hear what I've been Colin Powell."

Did he win the contest? Of course he fucking did.

But I digress.

Around my grandpa's 80th birthday, his participation in family dinners began to wane. First he just began contributing fewer puns. Then no puns at all. Then he would come out of his room and sit with everyone for only a few minutes, then go back to his room until dinnertime, when, again, he would barely contribute one groaner, if at all. It got to the point where he would only come out for dinner, join in the initial "Cheers!" that began the meal, not offer another word and then go back to his room as soon as he finished dessert.

We were all worried about him. He was clearly getting on in years - had his mind gotten worse? Was his ability to pun gone? Was he isolating himself in order to save himself the embarrassment of failing to live up to his former glory?

My parents finally asked him about it, and he answered that, no, it wasn't that he didn't enjoy dinners and it wasn't that he couldn't come up with anything to say. But now that he was older, his hearing was getting worse, and while he had a hearing aid, our family dinners had grown so much that it was hard for him to really focus on what was being said. So, since he couldn't really hear the conversation, coming out to sit with the family only made him feel worse about not being able to join in as he once had. So he came out for dinner and then retired to his room to work on his logic puzzles.

At this, my dad sighed a huge breath of relief - my grandpa has always been wary of doctors and my dad had been worried that grandpa had been trying to hide a bigger problem.

"It's your hearing aid? That's not a problem!" my dad told grandpa. "They've come out with better ones now that are much better that your current one; they're much more focused, and will make it easier to hear what everyone's talking about. We'd be happy to get you one of those so you can really come participate in family dinners!"

My grandpa nodded and thought for a minute.

Finally, he said:

"But... I don't want to give up my excuse."
(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 23:27, Reply)
Always look on the bright side.
When I was very small, both my parents worked, so my Nan used to come and pick me up from school.

I remember very clearly coming out of the gate one day and looking for her only to see my Granddad instead. Before I knew it I was in hysterics, crying my eyes out inconsolably and not letting him hug me or comfort me before eventually managing to blurt out "Nanny's Dead"

She wasn't, she was at home making dinner. God I was a pessimistic child.
(, Tue 7 Jun 2011, 10:39, 8 replies)
I didn't know 3 of them. And I knew the 4th even less.
When my grandmother "Cita" (real name Alice but I never asked about the nickname) died, she shared the same date a beloved scots terrier passed away. I honestly cried far more for a companion I spent many joyful years with than for my father's mother, who I saw as a cranky, mean spirited crone whose only joy in life was making the family wait to open gifts on Christmas Day.

It was a simple rule: no one could open any gift boxes until all immediate family members on the island were under the same roof. Cita wouldn't call from her apartment until some time around noon, and in later years she'd wait until one in the afternoon before saying "I'm ready: come pick me up." The drive wasn't a long one, but when we arrived at the apartment my grandmother seemed to enjoy taking her time, making my brothers and me insensate with boredom as she chatted with M&D before finally standing up and shuffling down to the parking lot and the waiting station wagon. If it was an attempt at reducing materialism among us, it worked very well for me, as I gradually developed indifference to the piles of presents during the annual event.

A decade after Cita's passing found me helping my mother sort through some boxes of possessions. The family had moved to another island and simply dragged everything along, placing the bulk into short term storage while we awaited completion of dad's first "from scratch" house, built directly over the charred remains of the prior owner's home (but that's a story for another time). Opening up one box, I pulled out a folded uniform along with some framed photographs and several yellowed documents. My mother exclaimed, "oh! Cita's uniform! I'm glad we still have that."

"Mom, what was this uniform for?"

"Oh, we never told you! Cita worked with USO in the Pacific for WWII, and helped with the logistics planning and schedules. She met all sorts of movie stars and singers and comedians before they went to entertain the troops. She didn't want her favorite son sent far away, so she pulled some strings and kept your father stationed on O'ahu."

Cue the dropped jaw, wide eyed look. "Wow, that's amazing."

It was the first glimpse of an alternate version of my departed grandmother, and it was as alien as the stunning photograph of the woman in uniform and cap which had been carefully packed along with the uniform and documents - and which I clearly remember had never been displayed in Cita's apartment.

A few more days and a few more boxes later, I came across more of Cita's belongings, including a yellowed stack of letters. I handed them to my mother and she briefly scanned through them saying, "I wonder if. . .oh: it's still here!"

"What's that?"

"The Lindbergh letter."

Oh fuck, here it comes again. "The Lindbergh letter?"

"Yes! She had been traveling across Europe back then and was in Paris the week he made the flight. She thought he might be missing home a bit so she baked him an apple pie and brought it to him the day after he landed. This is the letter he wrote, thanking her for the pie."

It's been less than a week and my image of my grandmother has already been smashed to bits. There was more to come, but not for another 15 years.

Flash forward to 2002. Mom has flown out to Taos, New Mexico and I've driven out to help her locate Cita's final resting place. During the period when her urn was placed in a tiny below ground crypt, there was a scandal involving the local clergy, some under age boys and girls and - well, nevermind. Records were badly kept - if at all - and we were just hoping to find the general area where she might have been interred. As the first day turned to dusk and our eyes blurred from reading what records were available to us, I suggested visiting a restaurant I had noticed during the drive into town. As we approached the entrance, mom said "oh: this was Cita's house. They've done a good job keeping it intact." Yes, I was about to learn more wonderful things about the grandmother I never knew.

The meal was very good and I marveled at how well the restaurant group had integrated the valance lighting system into the very solid, sprawling adobe structure. It actually looked like it had been an original part of the house. Mother quickly corrected me. "Oh no, they didn't add that: that was Cita's original idea for this place. She taught me everything I know about architecture and design - and she hated Frank Lloyd Wright as much as you do."

I rail against the monster, the deity, the cosmic arbiter, whatever or whoever it was that took away the wonderful lady with scores of fantastic life stories to tell her grandchildren and replaced her with the hateful old woman who made it clear she couldn't stand having us around.

The next day, we assemble the best picture of where Cita was interred from the various bits given us, and head over to that part of the church grounds with a metal detector to scan for larger objects. At first I think there's a mistake, as we find a small courtyard with a tree in the center, but as I begin my sweeps, we find a strong return close to the base of the tree.

"There's something down there. Do you think they just forgot they had buried her out here and planted this tree?"

"That's really strange - but it was a chaotic time."

"Want to call this her spot? She'll be one with the tree."

"I think she'd like that."

I hope I'm wrong and the life after death people are right and I'll eventually meet up with Cita some time in the far future. I have in my possession an old band-style ring, fitted with 3 diamonds, 2 of them in a cut style so old jewelers refuse to duplicate that pattern. One of the original stones was lost when the ring slipped off mom's finger while she was washing the dishes: the sparkly replacement is easily spotted and highly incongruous. The ring was given to my father by my grandmother and he gave it to my mother as an engagement ring. The inside of the gold band is inscribed with several Hawai'ian names, and I'm certain Cita knew the story behind them, whether it truly belonged to royalty and was given to settle a debt or if she acquired it through even more fantastic means.

Rest well, Cita.

p.s.: Many fantastic stories here: I have not ever laughed and cried as much over a qotw.
(, Mon 6 Jun 2011, 18:56, 3 replies)
My maternal Granddad is amazing
I'm half Polish, and both grandparents on my mothers side were in Poland during the war. My Granddad in German occupied areas (ending up in Warsaw), and my grandmother in Russian occupied areas (now in the Ukraine). My grandmother was deported to Siberia, and she's written a book about it, there are a few copies floating around, and if you ever meet her she'll have sold you one within about 5 minutes.

My granddad has a host of stories, both before, during, and after the war. I'll probably wheel a fair few out over the course of this week.

He was raised in a farm near the German border, and his father had business with them quite often, and as such he spoke German very well, and knew all the formal introductions.

So after the Warsaw Uprising, he was chosen to negotiate the surrender of his group. He walks into the office where the German official is waiting, stands to attention, and gives himself a full formal introduction, complete with titles, for a landowning baron (using the name of the farm, which had since been repossessed by the Germans). The officer taking the surrender, being heavily drilled, instantly salutes, looks embarrassed when he realises what just happened, and the negotiations continue on good terms after that.

He's always very careful to differentiate between the Nazis and the Germans, if they ever captured a German soldier, he would be treated well, since they knew that that meant that they would be treated properly if one of them was captured. The SS were shot.


~~~~~~~~Wavy lines to before the war~~~~~~~~

Him and his brother had quite a rivalry going on, and there's a lot of stories about how they used to get at each other. My great uncle was older, and stronger, but my granddad was cunning, and better prepared.

One particular bone of contention was strawberries, my granddad liked (and still does) to leave them coated in sugar for an hour or so before eating them, so that they absorb all the sugary goodness for when he eats them. his brother used to see this bowl of tempting deliciousness on the side, take it, and eat the lot.

So my granddad decides to discourage him. Next time he gets some strawberries out, he chooses the biggest, plumpest one he can find, hollows it out, and fills the inside with whatever he can find. Paprika, ginger, raw garlic, vinegar, all crushed into a paste, then carefully puts the top back on, making sure that it stays together, and isn't too noticeable. His brother comes along, and as usual, steals this tasty snack, thens spends the next half hour running around screaming that he's been poisoned.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 11:31, 3 replies)
Grandad
He was a farmer, and carried on working well into his eighties. One very windy day we arrived to see him walking around the yard carrying two buckets of water. I rushed over and offered to carry them for him. "don't be silly, they're the only thing stopping me blowing over," he said.

Another time he decided to kill a hen to eat. Being too old to run around the yard and catch one, he got his shotgun, crept up behind a hen and blasted it. There wasn't much of the hen left.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 6:30, 1 reply)
Grandma
was born in 1895, the daughter of a telegraph operator in Nebraska. Her father wasn't rich, but he made sure that his daughters were educated- a very rare thing in those days.

Grandma got a degree in geology, but when she graduated she found that a woman would make about a third of what a man would make. Infuriated, she cast about for a profession where a woman could earn as much as a man, and decided to become a doctor.

I have her diploma on my wall.

She married a hotshot pathologist who achieved some small fame in isolating the first known virus. They lived in New York City, where she had a private practice while Grandpa worked for one of the hospitals. Grandma also worked for Margaret Sanger when she ran the American Birth Control League, later known as Planned Parenthood. She was an ardent feminist who refused to wear a wedding ring, declaring "I'd sooner wear a ring through my nose."

I know for a fact that she worked on the London War Orphan effort, giving physical examinations to kids brought over here during WWII. As such she got to know Eleanor Roosevelt quite well. But past that I can't verify any further the truth of her favorite tale:

Eleanor had a convertible that she was very fond of. She also happened to be a terrible driver, as she would focus more on the conversation she was having with a passenger than on the road. During one such exchange with Grandma as they drove, Eleanor was so intent on making her point that she ran off the road and into a ditch, and knocked out her front teeth on the steering wheel. She had to have dentures made, but of course rather than making them look like her bucktooth snaggled originals, they gave her straight teeth. Her commentary on this was "I've done my part for the beautification of America."
(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 22:21, 1 reply)
My Nan was lovely but had a very dry sense of humour
She also had two bedrooms in her flat. One had twin beds, one of which my Nan slept in and the other one I had slept in on quite a few occasions when I had stayed over. The other bedroom, however, had a huge double bed with a carved wooden frame and headboard and two mattresses on it. The size, the carving and the fact it had two mattresses and was consequently enormously high from my perspective made it a fairytale bed when I was small. The closest I had ever got to sleeping in it was when I sneaked it and threw myself on it when the adults were distracted elsewhere. I coveted that bed and could think of no greater pleasure than sleeping in

Not long after I turned seven, my Mum was due to give birth to my brother. My Nan lived a short distance away, between our house and the hospital. When Mum's contractions started late one night, my sister and I were woken up, bundled into the car and dropped at Nan's house so my parents could speed on to the hospital. This had all been previously arranged and explained to us so when it all kicked off the excitement was overwhelming. The baby was arriving, I was in the car in the middle of the night and, because there were two of us, we were getting to sleep in Nan's spare room in the big bed.

After we had calmed down, Nan decided it was time we were put back to bed. Finally I got to climb in under the covers and lie, thrillingly far from the ground, under all best blankets and bedspread. My cup of joy was full. My sister got in the other side and seemed ready to fall asleep again instantly. The fool - I was going to lie there and savour the luxury first. Nan finished folding our clothes and then stood for a second in the doorway with her hand on the light-switch. She looked down at me and, in a purely conversational tone, uttered the words "Your Granddad was sleeping on that side of the bed when he died." Then she clicked off the light and went.

I did not sleep well at all.
(, Tue 7 Jun 2011, 21:16, Reply)
Granddad was half-albino
in that his hair was completely white from cradle to grave but he didn't have pink eyes or anything like that.

Anyway the story goes that when he was 8 someone asked him why his hair was white and he replied, quick as a flash, "everyone's hair is this colour but only I wash it properly!"
(, Sun 5 Jun 2011, 23:09, Reply)
My mum's dad
Was a foreman at Belfast docks. He was well respected, bit of a hard man. Management from the docks and the shipping lines would visit him at home and ask him to arrange the loading and unloading of ships and hiring and firing of stevadores. Consequently, he was not best pleased the day he went into work, without noticing that my mum and her sister had plaited the hair in his combover.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 16:04, Reply)
Grandad-related pearoast
My grandad. Yorkshireman. Traditionalist. Likes his bitter and his whisky and smokes a pipe. Nice chap, but if we're being honest, he dislikes people who are different...

Combine him with the family who moved in to the house next door a few years back, and you have a problem.

Forty-something single-mother. Four kids by a few different blokes. No man on the scene. Nothing wrong with all that, of course, as my Grandma kept pointing out to him: 'You've got to understand, it's not like the Old Days, let them be, Ray....'

But he had his prejudices, of course. They didn't help by letting the garden go wild, which upset my Grandad more than any amount of promiscuity and childbirth out of wedlock ever could. His garden is his pride and joy - he goes out and weeds first thing each morning and keeps a beautiful terrace of flowerbeds running down his sloped garden from the immaculate patio (this is an ex. council house in Leeds, by the way, he's just a very keen gardener)

He moaned and moaned about this. He felt that their lack of care ruined his enjoyment. He couldn't sit out in the garden and relax while there were feral kids kicking a football round an overgrown garden next door.

Again, my grandma was the voice of reason. 'It's their garden, Ray, and they're doing nothing wrong - forget about it or just grow the hedge high, but stop moaning.'

And so a sort of peace was reached. He bit his lip and got on with things, and all was well.

One evening after a while of this entente cordiale , Grandma's in the kitchen and Grandad walks through with his whisky, his pipe, and the paper, heading out to read it on the patio before dinner. Moments later, he comes back in, whisky in hand, pipe drooping unlit in his mouth.

'June - come outside for a moment dear'
'What's up Ray?'
'Come outside, darling'

So she follows him out through the hanging blinds and in the middle of the patio, squatting just above the floor, is next door's youngest, nonchalantly crimping out a length on the pristine patio, whilst his mum, on the other side of the fence, is trying to tempt him back near enough to pick him up by waving a packet of chocolate buttons at him.

It was such an embarassing situation that everyone involved was a little bit shellshocked, I think (except the kid, who was totally oblivious). But next day, Grandad went over to see the lady next door and offered to sort her garden out if she wanted. So long as she got the kids to stay out of the garden.

He now has two gardens to work on (which he finds a benefit in itself), and next door's not so unsightly as a result, plus no one shits on his patio.

Result.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 10:25, Reply)
I love my Grandad------
even though strictly speaking he isn't my Grandad. My Mum wasn't married when I was conceived. My "proper" Grandad was a Jehovah's Witness and thus both I and my mother became Persona Non Grata as far as he was concerned.

Fortunately my maternal Grandmother had remarried a few years previously and both she and her new husband took us under their wing. He cared for me and my Mum like we were his own despite him having his own Children and Grandchildren. Not only did he make me feel wanted but also made my Mum feel like she had both parents again.

I know you read this website occasionally, and I know how I have told you many times before how much you mean to me but I hope you see this and know that I love you very very much.

Thank you.

Rich.
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 2:24, Reply)
My grandad was stationed in North Africa in the Polish army in WW2
Him and his comrades were out in the sticks guarding some sodding huge artillery installations. One evening, sitting round the campfire, he notices one of the barrels of the artillery guns drifting slowly along behind the sand dune. Heading up the dune to investigate, he found a bedouin towing the gun away, having hitched up a dozen camels to it.

Unable to quiet believe it, he called his mates up to have a look too. Looking round to find himself somewhat of a spectacle, the bedouin apparently then slowly unhitched the camels, probably looking somewhat sheepish, and wandered off.
(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 22:08, Reply)
My Norn Irish Grandad
I'll never forget that day. I was playing for my Sunday League team, scored the winning goal, came home on a high. And there was my wife at the door.

"Your grandad died last night. He got out of bed, had a heart attack and ..."

Like a sledgehammer, and I vowed never to forget him.

Not difficult - when ever I go up to London, I make a point of going to see this:



My old grandad, you see, worked in a reserved occupation during WWII, and played no small part in building this beauty at the Harland & Woolf yard in Belfast.

Hell of a memorial.
(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 22:07, 3 replies)
5th
I don't even know what the question is.

Right. When I were younger...
My Grandfather (Taid) and my Grandmother (Nanny) lived in Wales. We stay in the arse end of Scotland so we would travel down every summer for a week or two and spend fantastic summers down there. I loved every minute.

My Taid was a proper grandad, walked funny, smoked a pipe, played Dominoes in the pub, helped with the evacuation at Dunkirk (There are medals somewhere) etc. He also had a fairly substantial vegetable patch and when I was there I was always out helping him with watering, digging up, shelling peas etc.
This particular summer I asked if I could dig up the potatoes for tea. "Give me five minutes boyo" and off he toddled. Gives me a shout a few minutes later so I run out and start digging.
"Try here" - No luck
"here" - Not a tattie in sight
"Alright boyo, try this bit" - PAYDIRT!
I dug up a carrier bag full of potatoes and went running in quite the man to my nan who was watching from the kitchen. He stood outside, probably pissing himself laughing (I like to think he lit up his pipe like a hero). He'd not planted any that year and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Another year I went down and he took me, my mum and my mums boyfriend at the time out to Mona airfield. He took me up to speak to this pilot of a little 2 seater plane. They guy showed me all around it then told me to get in. Taid had arranged for one of his old war buddies to take me up for a flying lesson. I got to pilot it, bank around, wear FUCKING MASSIVE HEADPHONES and it was fantastic. I was about 7 I think. Maybe 8.

Best grandad ever. I fucking miss him though. He died in Hospital in 1995 (I was about 13). Luckily we were down there as we knew he was ill.
My nan was 95 this year too.
(, Thu 2 Jun 2011, 21:57, 1 reply)
Pappou . . .
Long story to follow . . .

My grandfather (Dad's dad) was a farmer born in southern Greece in 1909. He lived for most of his 91 years in the same village (with the exception of military service and WWII, where he served at the front).
I first met him in 1985, the first time my folks, brother and I visited Greece on a holiday. At the time, he was 74 years old, and still getting up at 5am to tend the animals and fields (and spending time spoiling his grandchilren . . . )
I thought he was a legend. Witty, funny, and full of stories about any topic you could name. Articulate, well mannered and with the most beautiful handwriitng I'd ever seen (I still have letters he used to write to us here). My cousins in Greece at the time also used to tell me he spoke English, but he never demonstrated his skills, and since they couldn't speak English, they couldn't copy him.
Now, the ten year old me probably didn't make the connection (or, rather, see the discrepancy) between an old farmer and his well-educated manner. As I got older, he continually reinforced that I should do well at school, I should make sure I had a decent job (via letters or phone) - don't get too fussed about getting married (my grandmother had a big thing about me getting a good husband once I hit 16 or so).
In all my grandfather's stories, he didn't talk too much about his earlier life - ony my Dad would fill in the details. He finished a high school equivalent at 16, and should have gone onto some university education (since he did very well in his final exams), but he was one of seven chidren, with three unmarried sisters. Two of his brothers left for overseas, leaving him and one brother to provide a dowry for three girls. So, that's uni scratched then.
After his sisters were married, he then had to find a wife of his own. This was right at the beginning of WWII, which delayed a famiy somewhat. He was sent to the front (at that time, the Albanian border), in the early part of 1942 for a year. My aunt was born in 1944, a year after he got back, with three other children to follow.
He was the village scribe/writer of contracts for a very long time (as he was one of the few people who could write), and made a point of sending his only daughter to school (this was very unusual . . . many fathers didn't beieve it was necessary for a woman to read/write if her vocation was to keep house and have children). The "English" he could speak was actualy French, and on my last visit to him whilst he was still alive, he could still have a basic conversation in it.
In 2000, he was 91 years old and still a smarty-pants whenever on the phone:)
I got to tell him I had finished Uni, and he seemed genuinely happy.
Unfortunately, soon after, he got a chest infection that landed him in hospital (itself not a serious problem). He might have returned home, except for a medical fuck-up where he was left with an unrecordable bood pressure for a few hours and was presumed dead (note, not resuscitated, but presumed dead). My uncle was asked to make the necessary arrangements. He was then found to be breathing. During his "period of death" he had however suffered a heart attack, and became delerious. He was discharged home, and spent one week of claiming the Albanians were after him, and not recognising his own wife. On the day he died, he was lucid and knew he was going - he insisted on speaking with his children who were overseas. His funeral had 500 people in attendance (with the population of the village being about 300 at the time).
None of my grandparents are alive any longer, and I got to know three of them and loved them all, but eleven years on, I can't think about my grandfather without tearing up - that he won't be here to see his two grand-daughters (my neices), or to meet Mr Legless and give me his brutally honest opinion of him, or to see his only grand-daughter get married. I feel rather cheated by fate.
(, Sun 5 Jun 2011, 6:11, 4 replies)
My granny likes to tell the story of when she married my gramps.
That night, in their room, gramps came out of the bathroom, wearing a robe, my granny lay under the sheets. She noticed his feet, "what's wrong with your feet?"
"It's my toes, I had tolio when I was a kid." He said.
"You mean polio."
"No, tolio, it messed my toes up." Then granny saw his woefully knobby knees.
"What's the deal with your knees then?" asks Granny.
"I had the kneesles."
"The MEASLES?"
"No, the kneesles, it messed up my knees." He replied.
So granny said fine, slightly exasperated, and gramps slipped off his robe, to which granny exclaimed,
"OH! You must've had the smallcocks too!"
(, Sun 5 Jun 2011, 5:04, Reply)
Grandparents rock..
Due to having shit parents my grandparents were pretty pivotal when we were growing up, from taking us on day trips and holidays when we were young, to making sure I went to school when I was a stroppy teenager.

My paternal grandparents are very traditional, grandad was in the RAF and then a trucker, nan ran a shoe shop. They don't believe in sex before marriage, divorce, homosecuality or foreigners. Grandad taught me about cars, lorries, sarcastic phrases and how to make stuff from wood and nails, nan taught me about cooking and sewing and clothes.

My maternal grandparents were less traditional, divorcing before I was born. Grandad was a bit of a 'character', he'd been in prison for small things a few times, and nanna was always telling stories about his crazy money making schemes. He taught me about betting odds, card playing, how to lie convincingly and rock music. He died when I was little, but my kid has a lot of his personality traits, which is infuriuating and amusing in equal measure.

My nanna was the biggest influence on me growing up, I lived with her off and on for years, and she is simply the most amazing person I've ever met. She is the only person in my life who was there for me every single fucking time it counted, and no matter what I did or thought or didn't do I knew she would always have my back. There's no denying I was her favourite, and we were so close we'd know what each other was thinking more often than not. She gave me the confidence to walk away from dangerous situations and a fucker of an abusive relationship, and the confidence to come out to my family almost 10 years ago. She took no shit from anyone, but gave exactly what was needed at the right time. She died 5 years ago and I miss her every single day.
(, Sat 4 Jun 2011, 18:05, 1 reply)
My Gran, now sadly deceased...
...in the middle of a casual conversation with the family came out with the gem:

"Suck suck, spit spit, say no more."

What?
(, Fri 3 Jun 2011, 9:28, 1 reply)

This question is now closed.

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