My other grandfather always treated me with love and open arms. I was not his biological granddaughter, but you would never have known it; I was his bonnie lass from the moment he met me. Although he had been living in Canada since just after WW2, he would always thicken up his Scottish accent for my benefit. We loved to make each other laugh.
He was from that generation that didn't trust doctors; "They're all quacks!" he would say. I don't even know if he had ever been to a doctor during my lifetime - until he got sick. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but I was told it was slowly progressing and that he still had a few 'good years'. Having been reassured that this was the case, I didn't have any reservations leaving for my exchange program, which was going to be an entire year.
I was lied to; he was dying.
Most of my year was behind me when I got the phone call from my mother. 'Grandpa isn't going to make it until August when you come home. You will have to call and say good bye - this week would be best.'
I was furious. And devastated. How do you call someone that you love on the phone, knowing that they are going to die, and say good bye? That is exactly what I had to do.
I waited 2 days. I needed some time to process it all. I was only 17 - although I don't think it would have been any easier if I had to do it again tomorrow.
'Grandpa. Hello. Mom tells me you aren't feeling well - what have you done now?' I tried to lighten the tone.
He laughed-coughed. 'Achh. Ya know how e'goes.' And then he quickly changed the subject, 'How has your trip been? We're all so proud of you.'
I began to cry at that comment. I had done a lot of things that I was less than proud of and I know I didn't deserve his sentiment. 'It's been amazing. I'm having the best time.'
'Come now. Dunnie cry. It'll be fine; I will be....... just fine.' I knew he was out-rightly lying but we both knew what the purpose of this phone call was, so he continued, 'You just keep your chin up and make me a happy old man.'
'I'll do my best.' There was silence on both sides; I needed to take a few deep breaths. 'I love you, grandpa.'
'I love you too. I have to go now, love; I'm tired. Cheerio.'
'Good bye, grandpa.'
The line cut out. He died 3 days later.