Thank you for being the most wonderful Father, Father-in-law and Grandad. I have so many memories, that I don’t know where to start. It is only on reflection that I truly realise how blessed we were to have you in our lives.
I can’t remember the last time I called you Dad. You were Grandad to everyone. I also can’t remember the last time you called me Lizzie – it was always Bill or Billy – never did quite work out where that what came from!
You, along with Granny, worked hard through your whole life, to provide a safe and stable world for your family. Lots of my memories involve you and your variety of offices. But despite being a conscientious workaholic you never missed the important things.
My earliest childhood memories revolve around birthday parties, holidays and family time. Our favourite Greek Restaurant in Birmingham The Acropolis (later replaced with Bouboulinas in Bristol). The caravan in Wales, day trips to the Lickey Hills or the Botanical Gardens, the never-ending drives to Ireland, the week off school in June to go to Cornwall, and later trips in the motorhome. You knew the M5 like the back of your hand. You’d play a game with us guessing the distance to Bristol on the next sign. You always won, because you knew those signs off by heart! And there was always one response to “How long now?” and that was “Half an hour”.
We enjoyed never ending days on the beach, cliff top walks on the South West Coastal Path, playing in the snow. I remember being on your shoulders and you chasing us around the garden. Thanks to you and Granny, I felt safe and loved as a child.
There were a few famous moments where I got “my way”. I vividly remember the Rainbow Brite bike in Woolworths in Cotteridge – and making quite a fuss about it. You quietly went back to get it, ready for my 5th birthday. That is the bike you taught me to ride without stabilisers on. I still remember you running up and down the garden, pushing my bike, until I cracked it. Then there was the tantrum in Laura Ashley over the wallpaper choice for your bedroom. You and Granny settled on my choice in the end – the pink stripes!
Sunday mornings were always made special by you. You’d always bring me the junior section of The Mercury (after you had read the sports pages) and The Funday Times – along with my quarter of sweets. One day you went to the shop and they told you this was the last tub of Aniseed Twists – the manufacturer was stopping production. You bought the whole tub, so I could continue to have my quarter on Sundays.
After Birmingham, we moved to Bishop Sutton. You continued to take great pride in our achievements. From drama competitions, to East Harptree Orchestra concerts, you were there. The day trips to Wells and Wookey Hole were compulsory for all the exchange students we had – from France, Germany, Belgium and Canada. You took great interest in all our friends, and any human being you met. You went through a phase of being called “The Mad Professor”. But Grandad always suited you better.
Childhood merged into adulthood and University and weddings. I’ll never forget you proudly polishing your Rover 75 and decorating it with a ribbon – all to keep up the pretence of me going to the church in your car. When all along, you and Granny had organised a horse and carriage for me instead. I’m sure my face was a picture when I saw it, but I definitely remember the pride and joy on yours. You were the last man standing on the dance floor at my wedding – I actually had to beg the DJ to stop playing music.
You welcomed Peter (Pedro number 2), and his family and friends into our family. You became Grandad, or Sekuru, to them too. Always greeting any visitors with your strong handshake and famous chatter. Gogo and Sekuru Dozva managed one trip to the UK together. You took them on the compulsory trip to Wells of course – and low and behold the swans rang the bell! Only once before had that happened – when you took Jason and family to Wells. The joy that moment brought!
Along came Oliver and Alice in 2010. You were an expert Grandad by now – but the thought of holding two babies at once was overwhelming. It took a few days, but you got there!
It feels like the cycle of life started all over again, in those 10 years you were Grandad to my babies. The countless times you collected them from nursery, school and clubs. The many Sunday roasts and BBQ’s in the garden. The wonderful holidays we had where you and Granny would come and join us. These included trips to Center Parcs – we even got you in the pool! We had lovely trips to Cornwall, Devon, Pembrokeshire and Edinburgh. Only last year we managed a few days in Croyde, when lockdown had eased. We picked a caravan with bedrooms and bathrooms at each end, so you could join us in a safe way. Oliver and Alice were so chuffed you got to see them bodyboarding.
I know how much you loved watching Oliver play football for his beloved High Littleton Youth Football Club. From the U7s to the U11s you were there on the side-line, shouting encouragement – and some opinions! You only got to take Oliver to The Villa once, but it is a memory he will cherish, and we will make sure it happens again.
You even got to watch Alice’s first synchronised swimming Christmas show, pre first lockdown. I don’t think you knew what to expect, but you were amazed by the spectacle and loved it. Synchronised swimming was added to your sports to watch!
A few people have said to me recently “you’re just like your Dad”. It’s funny because I always thought I was like Granny. But I guess it would make sense for me to be a bit of both! I can see a few things I have got from you – a love for people, places, experiences and family – and the ability to chat endlessly of course. Without your influence I wouldn’t be the person I am now. I am not sure I will ever be as black and white as you, or as honest as you. You weren’t capable of even telling a white lie. But the combination of your honesty, stubbornness, dedication and love of people is what enabled you to say your famous last words – “My conscience is clear”. If a few more people could honestly say that to themselves at the end of life, wouldn’t the world be a better place?
I am devastated you have been taken away from us too soon. We had many more adventures to go on. But I am overwhelmed with pride to be able to call you my Dad.
I promise to keep on talking, helping others, enjoying new places and experiences, as well as revisiting the old favourites. I will not be able to replace your singing though, or your incredible general knowledge – you so should have gone on The Chase! But we’ll continue to make new memories with Granny included, and you’ll always be there with us.
Love you Grandad.
Peter/Mukwasha/Pedro Number 2
Oliver and Alice xxxx