Grandpa

Today would’ve been Grandpa’s 100th birthday.

Grandpa’s Eulogy January 25 2010

It is somewhat ironic that in a summer of Test cricket where a number of Australian batsmen were dismissed in the 90’s, the almighty umpire raised his finger and gave Grandpa out at 3.15pm last Wednesday for 97. Tantalisingly within reach of a century and a century that many of us thought he was destined to achieve.

As grandchildren and great grandchildren, we were blessed to have Grandpa with us for all these years. In fact there seemed to be this unspoken arrangement that Grandpa would always be around. To give a tangible example of his longevity, when he was my current age of 43, television hadn’t yet started in Australia.

Grandpa could be gruff and brutally honest. When the occasion required it, he would not hesitate in calling a spade a spade. However he was also generous and kind-hearted. A personal example of his charitable nature was to act as a silent financial backer so that I could attend a cricket camp at Geelong Grammar School in the early 1980’s. He did this because the Flynn household was undergoing considerable upheaval at the time. Through his generosity, I was able to experience at first-hand ex-Test batsman Paul Sheahan’s cover drive and face a series of wides delivered from the arthritic wrists of ex-Test leg spinner Jim Higgs.

For us grandchildren, Grandpa was generous with his time (except when it was afternoon smoko). Growing up, it was a rite of passage to play all manner of games with him. He was always up for playing card games such as Snap, Switchem (a form of Uno) or, as you got older, more sophisticated card games like 500. I think he would sometimes get a little frustrated with Grandma’s occasionally erratic 500-play. Influenced she often claimed by the presence of a full moon.

Grandpa loved playing backyard cricket and on occasion I think he thought he was Ray Lindwall. Grandpa was happy to selflessly bowl and to field for hours.

One year for Christmas I received a mini-pool table with a surface no bigger in area than a cafeteria dinner tray. The balls were marble-sized and the only way to play this game was by crawling around on your hands and knees. Grandpa, at the age of nearly 70, became addicted to this game. Grandpas shouldn’t be able to do these things but that didn’t deter him from enjoying himself.

At the family Christmas Eve gig, Grandpa often demonstrated that he was a dead-eyed dick on proper pool tables. After sinking some balls and a couple of beers, Grandpa would typically head back to the lounge room and take in the Carols by Candlelight telecast. He loved the Carols.

Grandpa loved watching the footy at Kardinia Park. When he took me along, we would usually stand and watch the second half of the reserves followed by the seniors. Grandpa stood at the footy until he was nearly 70. He used to get very infuriated with the Cat’s style of play in those days. If I wasn’t accompanying him, I’m sure he would have used far more earthy language to describe either the incompetent umpiring or Geelong’s criss-cross style of football. Ironically this style of football that so infuriated him is de rigueur today.

Grandpa had a keen sense of humour and in particular, loved his British comedies. I recall briefly for you now a typical lounge room scene. The half-hourly chimes of the grandfather clock on the mantelpiece. Grandma sitting in her chair either knitting or dozing. Grandpa, sitting slightly forward in his favourite chair, laughing heartily at either The Two Ronnies, Porridge or Steptoe & Son. He loved Ronnie Barker. Grandpa wouldn’t stand for smut which is funny given the amount of double entendre (almost single entendre) contained in these shows.

Grandpa prided himself on his independence and drove a car well into his 80’s. That is, well in two senses of the word. However, when Grandpa was nearly 90, Norma and I were meeting him for lunch at the Farmer’s Arms in Creswick. We were standing out the front of the pub when we saw this car flying around the corner into the main street. Time seemed to stand still as this car took a wide arc almost on two wheels. We were gobsmacked. I exclaimed, “Shit, here comes Sterling Moss”. No. It was Grandpa.

2007 was a big year for Grandpa where he had cause for dual celebration. Firstly, his beloved Cats broke their 44-year premiership drought and secondly, Menzies’ acolyte ‘Honest’ Johnny Howard lost his parliamentary seat at the November election. When asked to comment about the election result, Grandpa, as quick as a flash and chuffed with Howard’s demise, informed us that another incumbent Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce suffered the same fate back in 1929. This was yet another instance of Grandpa’s almost faultless memory, depth of general knowledge and political leanings.

Anne and I visited Grandpa two days before he died. He was lucid but struggling to breathe. Typically, he was watching the news. He wished me a happy birthday and he knew that Australia had won the third Test. I said goodbye to Grandpa fairly certain that I would never see him again. After shaking hands, Grandpa responded with an extended flourishing goodbye wave. He knew his fate and I believe he was accepting of it.

Grandpa always exhibited interest in what his grandchildren were doing and he kept abreast of our various sporting, educational, work and family pursuits. He was very proud of us all.
Grandpa loved his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. And they all loved him.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Lovely memories of a lovely man. Well done Peter.

  2. PF – That’s what a grandpa should be. They have the right to be grumpy so long as they are also involved. I bet he journeyed well to his resting place.

  3. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Great memories of a good man. Thanks for sharing PJF.

  4. Sounds like a lovely man, Peter. He would be proud of your portrait.

  5. PJF
    It sounds like you have been fortunate enough to inherit many of his traits.
    I really miss my grandfather.
    Thanks,
    Smokie.

  6. Lovely words Peter. We owe so much to wonderful Grandpas like yours. Long may his memory live.

  7. Terrific tribute Flynny. Grandpa would be proud.

  8. Colin Ritchie says:

    A life well lived. I only saw my grandfather on my mother’s side once, and my paternal grandfather occasionally so I missed that experience and wisdom you gain from them. Now that I am a grandfather I appreciate the importance of the role and I hope I can provide my grandchildren with memories they will remember fondly. Your article brought it all home so well.

  9. Good stuff Flynny.
    My Tommy is 16 today – in grand company.

  10. Peter Flynn says:

    Thanks all.

    Grandpa was funny.

    At the many funerals he attended, he’d take in the eulogy and afterwards gruffly note that “he wasn’t like that at all’.

  11. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Extremely well written Peter sounds like a great bloke , must admit a lot of similarities good I may add to my departed father in law , John

  12. Peter Flynn says:

    Cheers Rulebook.

    It was good to catch up again last night.

    PF

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