Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Charlie

Today is my Grandfather's Anniversary. He died 16 years ago today, at the age of 92. He certainly lived to a 'ripe old age', as they say.

We never called him 'Granda', or 'Grandpa' or any other affectionate grandfatherly term. He claimed it made him sound old. All of his grandchildren called him by his name 'Charlie'.

I wish I had a photo to show you - but they're all in Ireland, and certainly not in digital format. He was a strapping and handsome man with a mane of pure white hair, brushed straight back from his face. Born not in the last century, but in the one before that, he started work at a young age for what was to become the biggest Bank in Northern Ireland. He worked his way up from errand boy, to Chief Inspector. He retired and was called out of retirement twice to lead projects, such was the Bank's respect for him and their acknowledgment of his experience and knowledge. Chief Inspector is a fairly high rank in the Bank, but his rise beyond this was no doubt capped by the fact that he was a Catholic in an environment where all directorships were held by Protestants. This was a product of the political atmosphere, that thankfully (although painfully), has changed to a large extent in Northern Ireland.

He worked for the Bank in a time when a job there was a job for life and for him it certainly was. He retired completely, I believe, well into his seventies. I worked for the same Bank, and although the times had certainly changed and it was no longer a 'work your way up from the bottom' kind of place, it gave me great pride to have been his Grand-daughter working there, and representing the third generation of my family to work for this company. As my own career advanced, I often found myself wondering 'what would Charlie think of me now?' Would he be proud that I had moved up in a relatively short space of time, or would he be shocked that I had done so since he left at a time when women had to leave when they got married, and when they rarely if ever worked on the counter in the branches? I like to think it would have been both, and hopefully a little more of the former than the latter.

But Charlie the Bank man isn't the man I remember. I remember him fondly as the man with the white hair, two pairs of black glasses, one for reading and one for television. The man who sat in a comfortable armchair in front of the fire, often in a zip up cardigan. With a steel comb in his pocket that he would give to us to 'fix his hair'. The man who would patiently let us comb his hair over and over, probably scraping his scalp raw in the process, and never saying a word.

He was very generous and our new Christmas and Easter outfits would come courtesy of him and our Nana. He would lavishly heap praise on us as we paraded our new threads in front of him, fashion show style. He also remembered for many years the praise I gave him for how dapper he looked at my Aunt's wedding, when I was ten years old.

He was an adventurous man and in his eighties flew to the USA with my Uncle and visited both coasts. We have film footage of him touring high above Alcatraz in a helicopter - thrilling for him to have done, and still thrilling for us to watch.

I've read a lot of blog posts recently about people who talk about their Grandparents whom they still see, or sadly whom they've only just lost and I feel happy for them that they have, or have had their Grandparents in their lives for so long. My husband's maternal Grandparents are still alive and very well at the ages of only 78 and 80. However, I feel completely jealous, too. I would love to talk to Charlie now, to Nana his wife, whom we lost 6 years before him. I'd love to know what they think of me living all the way over here in America! What they think of my children?

I still miss them, a lot. My Nana died before her time, from cancer and my mother was only two years older than I am now when that happened. Charlie in his declining years was 'doting' a little and was forgetful. He literally just wound down and passed away peacefully in his sleep, and for that I am very grateful.

I wipe away a few tears now and replace them instead with a broad smile in memory of a great, grandfather.

I love you, Charlie!

17 comments:

shauna said...

What a great tribute to 'Charlie.' I bet he would have been just plain proud of you! I love it when bloggers honor the memories of people they love with beautiful posts like this one.

Julie Pippert said...

How interesting Charlie sounds...you write so livingly about him I feel a loss to have not known him.

Beautiful tribute.

Julie
Using My Words

~JJ! said...

Oh! Charlie.

The joy you brought to your family!!!

I can tell by Annie's beautiful post that you are truly missed...

Feener said...

beautiful post for a beautiful man. god bless

Deborah said...

Beautiful post Annie. You were lucky to have had him in your life!

Life As I Know It said...

what a beautiful post. I like how his grandchildren called him Charlie.
I don't have any grandparents alive, and I love how my kids are able to have close relationships with their grandparents. I hope they remember them well.
Great post!

andi said...

Now I'm all teary. Thank you for letting us know a small piece of this wonderful man.

lady macleod said...

Lovely, lovely. I so enjoy reading about happy families, and you write of him so lovingly. thank you for sharing your grandfather with us all. it has brighten my day.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

annie, that is such a lovely tribute to Charlie. It's great that you have such fond memories of him. I hope you save this post for your children to read when they're older.

Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

That's a lovely tribute to a man who sounds very deserving of such praise. I am lucky to still have one living grandparent, but I miss my others very much. I hope you think of Charlie with a big smile all day and know he's looking down on you and smiling too.

laurie said...

ah, you make him come to life again! in a helicopter over alcatraz? great man. great posting. thanks for telling us about your beloved charlie.

AliBlahBlah said...

What a lovely post - he sounds like a right character!

Jackie said...

Such a beautiful post for your grandfather. I'm sure he's very proud.

orangelauren said...

I came to your blog by way of a link to the post of the pink-pumpkin- version-of-the-Cinderella-coach cake. Any blog that has something interesting to talk about has got me hooked, including yours. I'll definitely keep tabs on this one.
Oh, and sorry about your grandfather. I don't know ya, but i think you've done him proud.

slackermommy said...

What a lovely tribute. I can see why you would miss him so.

pinks & blues girls said...

What a beautiful post. Charlie sounds like he was a wonderful man.

I never met my mom's father, who passed away at age 47, before my mother even married my father. The stories my mom tells about her dad are wonderful - he was a special man and he loved my mom so much.

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Momo Fali said...

Thank you for sharing this with us.