Today would have been Grandad's birthday. He would have been 77 years old. It's hard to comprehend that big, strong man from my childhood ever being such an age. And it's even harder to comprehend that it's been twenty three years since all his vibrant strength and happiness was extinguished from the world.
I often think, if he was able to drop in for an hour, what Dad would make of the world nowadays. How alien would it seem to him. The internet. Twenty four hour television. That roundabout near where we used to live which they've replaced with traffic lights.
And most of all I wonder what he'd make of his grandson. I know he'd love him dearly, but would he understand him? He probably wouldn't know how to spell the word autism, let alone come to terms with it. And then there's the biggest irony of all, that the two people who have played the biggest part in shaping my life are the two people who will never, ever meet.
It was a source of regret from the moment he was born, that The Boy would never know his Grandad. He'd never know what it felt like to be carried on the shoulders of a 5ft 10in giant with a headful of Brylcream, and the heady odour of Old Spice and Silk Cut. And then one day it occurred to me, that the two of them may never meet in the physical sense, but Grandad is never very far away.
You know how Dad beeps the car horn and then waves at strangers to see if they wave back? That was Grandad's game. You know when Dad told you that his scar from his tuberculosis jab was where he got shot fighting in the war? Grandad too... The whistling, listening to Frank Sinatra, making you say thank you when you get down from the dinner table, it's all him. The more I think about it, the more I realise, he's everywhere. In everything I do.
Happy birthday, Dad. And thank you. From both of us.
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.