Rest Well Granddad



Today we buried my Granddad, Keith Metcalfe. The day was dazzling with sunshine and the occasional, short shower, which Granddad wouldn’t have minded. He’d have said it was good for the plants. Having spent 25 years of my life with my Granddad close by, today was an utterly surreal and extremely difficult occasion. Often, I felt as if my heart was desperate to break free of my body. I wanted to have time to be able to hear more of his stories about the time he spent in Malaysia and the work he did on the local nature reserves. I wanted to bring a Great Grandchild to visit him in his garden, as he picked sweet tomatoes. I wanted to teach him, once and for all, how to get onto the internet.

Over the past few months or so, I have been trying to start my new novel – a book centred around loss. But the words haven’t been forthcoming. I can’t help but think that all of the books on death that I’ve been reading for research purposes have actually been in preparation for the two losses I’ve suffered this year. Saying that though, nothing, no book, no documentary, no doctor could have prepared me for the death of two of my close, loved ones. It is an awful event that everyone, I have learnt, experiences in a different way.

Granddad was hugely, hugely passionate about nature and the environment, and he did so much for his local and wider community, things that he did not receive recognition for, but did anyway, with full enthusiasm and devotion. I learnt today that he wanted to restore an old tractor, and get local school kids involved too. That was my Granddad. He always had to have a stimulating project on the go, something that would not only be of benefit to himself, but of benefit to others too. I’ll always be proud of him for that, and I will keep his passion alive through my own cherished  relationship with nature and the outdoors.

I’ve never had to read a poem at a funeral before, and I won’t lie, it was extremely challenging. On one side of me, I had Granddad’s coffin, on the other, I had a large, framed photo of him as a dashing young man. I wanted to clutch at both. But I swallowed and got the hell on with it.

This was also the first time I’ve been to a burial, and it was…well…heartbreaking and dreadfully final. When I went to place my white rose into the ground with Granddad, I had to stand for a moment or two. Six foot seemed such a long way down. I didn’t want him all the way down there.  But it was his time to go back to Mother Nature. Granddad would have loved the view from the cemetery  – over lush fields and full hedgerows.

Granddad, I love you. We will all help to take care of Nanna. Rest well.