My father became a grandfather when he was 70 years old. I do not think he ever thought he would become a grandfather. He met his first grandchild when she was 3 days old.
So grandfather took his grandchild in his arms and forever changed his world. Granddaughter was his everything, his first and his last. At night he did his best to appease her, for she cried, day and night. During the day he walked like a peacock behind the pram, or put on his running shoes and went for a run. Nothing was too much or too little for his grandchild. For the first three years he was a grandfather or a distance, because we lived abroad.
He was a grandfather up close, but for two too short years.
Two years ago
Today two years ago we heard totally out of nothing that he was incurably ill. This was a running race that he would not win. A few months before he ran a half marathon, running was his passion. Until he got a cough that did not go away, from one thing the other came. The death sentence. Granddaughter knew that grandfather was ill, but how ill she did not know. Grandpa knew how sick he was. For his grandchild he found it much worse than for himself. How would she feel underneath? Grandpa had been running with her that summer before, a round of athletics job. A running shirt for her, a cap here, a sweatband there.
Sorry, I scared you
Grandpa came to our home one week before his death. Just out of his chair. According to grandfather, that was a 'coughing fit and he lost his balance'. Granddaughter was shocked. Grandpa then spoke to her. He said 'sorry I scared you'. It was the last time they would see each other. The next day I was in hospital with him, a conversation with the chemo nurse. He did not have many questions, other than 'may I still come near my granddaughter, because she is my everything ". That was, of course, allowed.
They talked to each other that weekend, the night before he suddenly died. He had to 'not grumble too much at the sisters'. He promised not to do that. The next morning, when we were ready to bring granddaughter to school, we received a phone call. It was over and out. Granddaughter said "he has seen that I can cycle, so he does not think I need him". At the cremation she saw him for a moment, now he was again a grandfather or a distance.
Granddaughter has the running genes of grandpa, twice a week she now runs laps on 'their' athletics track. I started running again, exactly one year after his death.
And grandpa? He watches from a distance.