Today my parents are in the UK, and while I cannot be there, my heart is with them. They are burying my grandad today.
Growing up I didn’t have the relationship with my grandad that most children have, he was after all on the other side of the ocean. My parents took my brother and me over quite a few times as young children and my grandparents came to Canada quite a few times to visit. But there came a time when they were too old to travel and the time between visits became longer. The summer I turned twelve (1984) I spent six weeks in England with my dad’s family, staying a few weeks at my grandparents, a few weeks with different aunts and uncles and a few weeks at holiday resorts with aunts and uncles, it was a fabulous summer that I still remember very vividly to this day.
After that visit I wouldn’t return to the UK until 2006. I traveled with Justin to race in the Ironman UK and made time after the race to go and visit my family for ten days. It was wonderful. Catching up, seeing people I had not seen in years and just being with them – it was all so lovely.
I would return again in 2009, this time with my dad and Reece. When Reece was born it was instinct, I just needed to get him over there to meet his family, to meet his great grandad. And so we went. My dad, Reece and I spent a wonderful ten days immersed in family. I was so happy to be able to introduce Reece to his great grandad.
|Reece and his great grandad
|My dad, Reece and my grandad
|My grandad, Reece and I
So, it was with much sadness I received a call from my dad that my grandad had passed away on Tuesday February 7, 2012. It wasn’t a surprise, he was 94 years old and had lived a very full life, but you know, death always has a way of tugging at your heart.
My grandad was born on August 24, 1917 in Wicklow, Ireland. His given name was James Lawrence Corrigan. He married my nan, Vera May Flanagan on May 26, 1943 and they lived happily in Gravesend, Kent, England. They had four children, my dad the second oldest. He has two sisters and one brother.
|My grandad and nan on their wedding day
|My grandad and his four children, my dad is the one on the left
|My grandad and my dad
My grandad was a World War 2 veteran and could still tell us about his experiences when we visited in 2009. His mind was sharp and his ability to recall information was incredible. Injured during the war he took up the tapestry during his recovery and became very talented at it. We are lucky enough to have one of his pieces in our home.
My grandad was known around his neighbourhood for his prize winning rose garden. He loved his roses. His other favourite past time, long walks to the pub for a pint of Guinness.
My grandad looked after my nan for many years, as her health was not good. He cooked, cleaned, made trips to the grocery store and was a wonderful husband. He said good bye to my nan on February 5, 2002.
He lived a long, vibrant life, looking after himself (with some help from my aunts and uncle), in his home right up until his passing. He was here to meet eight grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. He was a wonderful man.