A man called Arthur Stanley Hutchins died last week.
You may not know him. I did.
He was my grandfather. I called him Papa.
When my older sister, his first grandchild, was learning to speak her 'grandpa' came out as 'papa'. He was too endeared to correct her and so he was called by the rest of us too.
I don't really know a lot about his life. Bits and pieces really. Like how he spent his 21st birthday dodging bombs in WWII. How one of those mornings he was woken by the air raid siren and reacted by rolling out of bed and onto the floor. An excellent move since when it passed he stood up to see his bed littered with bullet holes. I think he met Nana during the war. They got engaged and then caused a stir when he visited her in Sydney and they made the impulsive decision to just marry then and there. A lot of people were expecting a baby less than nine months later but my mum didn't come along until a significant amount of time later. They loved each other and simply got started on their lives together. And carried it on for 61 years. Even when the last of them saw Nana fading with alzheimers. He cared for her as long as he could and then visited her every day in the hospice. Amazing love and commitment.
Then there's all the little things I remember from our shared history. The noise he made with his mouth when he poked at us and the funny little side to side dance on the spot he did to make the littlies smile. The rythmical way he always stirred his tea, the tin of mints in his mint green car and the scones he baked (his kitchen trademark). And more recently it's nice to know that the postcards I sent from here lived on his fridge and that he enjoyed hearing about my adventures.
Today my family gathered back home in Australia to celebrate his 90 years of life and farewell him from this world.
Today, on the other side of the world, I stood on Westminster Bridge in London and dropped a bronze arum into the Thames in his memory.
I'm glad you were a part of my family, Papa. xo