My grandparents lived in Spain when I was young, I treasure every memory of summers spent staying in their apartment in Benalmadena. The days and evenings spent at the theme park just down the road from their home, the afternoons at the beach, splashing in the sea and eating the sandwiches my nan lovingly prepared for us that always ended up full of sand before lunch time, sitting in cafes with my grandparents while my nan asked in the most eloquent English accent for a ‘cafe solo americano,’ the day trips to Mijas, 6 of us crammed into the 5 seater car my grandparents had, singing ‘she’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes’ on our way up to Lake Viñuela, my grandad falling asleep in restaurants, or requesting love songs for my nan from the harpist who would play in the pizza place we always ate at. My grandad was the purest gentleman you could ever imagine.
He and I would had a special bond that stemmed from out love of reading, and our love of the Spanish language. He was always so proud of himself when he managed to order for all 6 of us in a restaurant in Spanish. Always checking that I’d been listening to his order and that I had understood all that he had said. Throwing in the odd Spanish word to conversations at the dinner table, and always, without fail, saying ‘Emily, knows what I’m saying, don’t you.’
One of his most prized possessions was his copy of the book, ‘Or I’ll Dress You In Mourning’ a biography of El Cordobes, an Andalusian matador. He was so incredibly protective of his copy of this book, in fact it was the one book that he would never lend to anyone to read, because he would have to kill them if they lost or damaged it. (His words, not mine.)
When he passed, on the 22nd of October 2016, my whole world fell apart. My heart was shattered and I’m not sure if it will ever be the same again. The world lost a true gentleman that day.
A few weeks later, it was my birthday. My family and I went to the place we always go for breakfast. My nan handed me a gift bag, and told me it was a gift from grandad. Inside the bag was his book.
I feel so incredibly honoured that I get to be the person that now possesses the one book that he loved more than any other.
I haven’t read it yet. It’s too soon and I don’t want to ruin the pages with splashes of tears. So for now, it sits proudly on my shelf as a daily reminder that he is still, and always will be with me. It’s a reminder of the connection we had, and I display that book like a badge of honour, because that I was the girl lucky enough to call this wonderful man my grandad.
I know that we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on material possessions, and that my memories of him live inside me, not his things. But to be able to flick through the pages as he also did, the pages that made such an impact on him, and to see the words that he also once read, is something that means so much to me.
One year ago today my whole life changed. And there is a scar on my heart that will never fully heal. But I only have that scar because I loved someone so much. So for that, I am lucky.
Until next time,