Tuesday, 13 April, 2021
The ghost of a grandparent I have never met haunts me.
Tears stream down my face when I try to think of how you talked to people and made them laugh.
There are others who did know you, heard your laugh
and got to feel that embrace
that only a grandfather will give. But I have to imagine.
I have to piece together fragments of knowledge people tell me about you.
You were always happy, they said. You lived for your favourite football team, they said.
You worked at a biscuit factory and you knew AUSLAN, they said… I didn’t know that before.
You were kind and never angry and loved all your grandchildren, they said.
I was one of the ones you didn’t get to meet.
I have to make up the conversations we would have had.
What we would have talked about.
I feel like you wouldn’t have tired listening to me.
And you would have told me your stories too.
About the good old days and your adventures…
I would know more things about you and you would know the things I loved.
We would have gone around to your house on game day and made food to eat and watched the Eels together.
I would have gone shopping with you and made dinners and stayed over.
Played games, gone places.
I don’t know where you would have lived.
Maybe you wouldn’t be on the coast if Nan hadn’t had a stroke?
Maybe you would have stayed in Ermington your whole life or moved up here to be close to everyone?
Maybe you would have been at my house waiting for me to come home from school?
Always the maybes and never anything real. I have to imagine.
What foods would we have eaten?
What films and late-night television shows would we have watched?
What music do you like?
What other things do you like?
What are your dislikes?
What Christmas food do you like?
Would you have made a rocky road too, or eaten all of my apricot and coconut balls before you were allowed?
If it was true, would you have taught me AUSLAN?
You would have laughed when I told you about kids at school and my new friends that I love
and this and that and everything.
If your smile is the same as my father’s, then is your laugh the same too?
We would have gone to the beaches in the summer and driven to the mountains in the winter
and your birthday would be a date on my calendar. I have to imagine.
Me and Lachlan’s would have formed a pattern in the middle of the year with Nan and you.
July, August, September, October.
When adults argue about creativity and dreams and imaginations, the things we seemingly lose
as time travels through us. I try as hard as I can to hold onto that.
I have to imagine because I know that is where you live. That’s the address I have for you,
a place that doesn’t really exist,
and I go there and I am sitting on your lap opening Christmas presents
and I go there and you are singing happy birthday to my brother tickling him and smiling
and I go there and see you and I am the happiest granddaughter in the world.