My Daughter's Tribute To Her Grandfather
My grandfather, Bill, 97 and ¾
Photograph taken approx. 1941
I started to call him Billy when I was little and he replied with Milly (even though my name was Amanda). He was the only one that was allowed to call me Milly and Millicent when he was cross with me which wasn't very often.
He would collect me from the infant school when he worked at the bottom of the hill. We would go to the sweet shop across the road and I would say that I didn't want sweets but please can I have cheese and onion crisps.
I would decorate his toes by drawing diamond rings on them with biro, and buy him silly socks for Christmas to cover them up.
We shared the joke of who had the messiest place and floor at mealtimes, right up until just a few years ago.
When I stayed at Quiet House, I would knock on the wall of my bedroom to his bedroom next door and say 'Billy, are you there?'
He held my children when they were new born babies and told them stories of flying planes during the war and swimming in the rivers without any clothes on.
We all know he loved his sweets, particularly Liquorices All-sorts. We saw a glimpse of the old Bill when we went to see him the day before I left for America. We had taken him a bag of chocolate buttons and put them in a bowl. When asked if he wanted some more, Bill delved in and took a big handful with a mischievous grin on his face. This amused and worried my children as he left only a few buttons in the bowl.
Now when I am searching the house for my shoes and eventually find them under the dining room table, I smile, remembering what Mum used to say about when she would go out for dinner as a little girl with Dodo and Bill: clonk, as her shoes fell to the floor and Bill knew that he'd be under the table collecting them for her later.
He would make me laugh: wearing bananas as a helmet with a mop as a rifle.
Bill was there for me, when my father wasn't. Bill was there for all of us - he was a talented, funny, caring man – our grandfather.