I once asked my grandfather how he’d like to spend his final days. After a lifetime spent travelling between England, Canada and the US, I was curious which of these places he’s called home would call to him in the end.
“I’d like to be on a tropical beach somewhere, with a beautiful woman bringing me cocktails,” grandad said matter-of-factly.
On his last day on this earth, my grandfather walked along the coastal path near his flat in Sidmouth, hand in hand with his wife of 65 years. When they came home, my nana made lunch and poured them each a glass of wine, a treat he was oft denied.
Over lunch, they laughed and shared stories, never forgetting in all their years together how important a smile could be.
After lunch my grandad sat in his chair for his afternoon nap, the sun streaming through the open window and bathing him in warm light. Wearing the shorts he’d worn since early spring – he always took them out of storage too early and wore them into late autumn, he was weathered by years of physical work outdoors and didn’t feel the cold despite his age – he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
A few hours later, nana was about to make dinner and wasn’t able to wake him.
No tropical beach, just a walk along the Sidmouth coast on an uncharacteristically hot English Sunday.
No cocktails; just a simple glass of wine poured for him by his beautiful wife.
Rest easy, grandad. I love you.