This weeks assignment for a writing course (the one I will finish the same week Uni starts!) was to write a character description, and link this to a life lesson. I chose my Grandad as he was such an enigma to me. The parameters of the essay were it had to be 400-500 words (so hard when I had much more to say), we had to use words to create the character, put the character in a physical situation and then join in the life lesson. It could be essay or fiction. I might try and write this again as a fictional story.
My Grandfathers Gift (or Don’t look a Gift Horse in the Mouth?)
My grandfather scared me. He was gruff and looked like a small wiry pirate. With his ginger, long beard, sea swept face, and thick glasses, he always looked ancient to me. His fingers were all bent, one of them at right angles, and he always smelt of wood putty and pipe tobacco. He evoked an air of distance, like the leader of a dog pack, us littlies approached at our peril, especially when he was eating his sharp cheddar and bread. He was fond of the saying Silence is Golden, something that I never really understood at the time, but I got the gist when he growled it. Sometimes, he would pay me attention, by picking me up to show me the little blue cuckoo that would spring out of its carved wooden door when the hour hand struck. If he was in a good mood, he would indulge my request when I said ‘again Grandad’.
Grandad rarely gave us kids presents, and certainly not when it was expected. Christmas, Birthday, Easter - we learnt to not ever expect gifts from him. I never really thought of this until I was older because what we didn’t know did not hurt us. As I got older, friends would show me amazing gifts they had got from their Grandparents. One time my best friend received from her Grandma the biggest Easter egg I had ever seen, nesting in a cardboard box with cellophane and ribbons. I wondered why I never got such things. It was a fleeting thought, certainly never an issue.
No, Grandad did not spoil us with material things, but as we grew into more independent beings, and I dare say less silly, noisy and sticky, he was more than generous with his time, his careful teachings, his wisdom. By the time I was a teenager he treated me as a grown-up. I knew this was given as a gift, so I acted as such around him. I loved just being in his calm, quiet, contemplative company. He was always doing something interesting, making things with wood, tinkering with tools, in the garden, reading, debating politics or religion. Even watching him prepare his pipe, was engaging.
He took a keen interest in my horse riding. He was a man who loved animals and appreciated the skills in handling them. One day, he turned up at my parent’s farm, with a very pretty little palomino mare, in foal. She was way too small for me to ride, but he wanted me to teach my little cousins to ride and care for a horse. This was his gift to me – the temperament and tool to guide and teach the young as he had done in the ways of quiet, steady, consistent patience. A horse was the perfect gift for this lesson.