I'm dedicating this blog post to my grandfather, Pa. Jack Eley. At 84, still a legend.
I know what you might be thinking; two blog posts in one day? Isn't that against blogging rules? Well, seeing as this post ties in with my previous post, I hope I'll be forgiven.
I'm privileged to have a grandfather. Not many people do, and I've had him for as long as any adult human being can hope to have a grandfather. That is to say, long enough for him to see me become a man. And I pray every day that I am the kind of man that makes him proud.
You see, he isn't only a grandfather by nominative designation. He's grand in every sense of the word. I was telling my best friend the other day that he is the best man I know. The very definition of tall, dark and handsome. A strikingly good-looking man, Pa is wise. His wisdom often masked by his dry wit sharper than any words the sharpest among us could spend hours thinking up. He just spat them out. A never-ending string of witticisms.
Once, while in the bathroom on one of our many holidays to Kleinkrans outside Wilderness (Pa and Granny owned a house there), Bruce and I asked him to hurry up so we could go to the beach. He remarked from behind the locked door: "then hand me the scissors". "Why?" came the inquisitive reply from Bruce. "So I can cut off."
Pa taught me how to play chess. I learnt from him patience, and the importance of measuring my words. Pa is a retired Shepherd in the New Apostolic Church. And while his preaching over the altar was often hard to swallow, I don't recall Pa ever causing offence. All of Pa's decisions were deeply considered decisions.
He'd always known I love animals. We'd spend hours in his perfectly manicured garden in Garlandale looking for chameleons, learning which plants were edible, how and when to prune, which flowers prefer which feed, and how you could increase your fruit yield by nailing iron nails into the trunk of your fruit trees. For one birthday, he gave me an ancient book called The Manual of Zoology. For others, they were books about gardening, flower varieties and other interesting topics.
When things seem to be falling apart around him, Pa is a centre of calm. He is peace personified. Always ready with advice, but only if asked for his opinion. Pa would never impose. He loves sport, and has impeccable taste in music.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years back. Granny got hold of every piece of literature she could about beating cancer through diet. I'm convinced she cooked him healthy. He beat cancer. Read that again. A man in his 70s beat cancer. He had a heart attack. He survived. Spent the minimum amount of time in hospital. He's suffered a stroke before. He nailed it. I'd begun thinking my Pa was Chuck Norris.
Now, as he lies struggling on a hospital bed in Pretoria, frustrated by his current condition after Tuesday's major stroke that has him paralysed on his left side, possibly for good, unable to speak, possibly for good, banging with his right hand against the bed-rails, defiant against weakness and failure as ever, he remains my superhero.
Beat it Pa. Beat it in its stupid face.