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The Circle of Life

My grandpa taught me many things. He taught me to laugh by putting his beret on his head and calling it his “lid”, or wiggling his enormous ears. He taught me how to nip out the side shoots on tomato plants so that my fingers smelt deliciously tomatoey and the plants grew tall. As a farmer, he taught me respect for the natural world, the responsibility of caring for animals, and the deliciousness of a home grown potato. He also taught me to shoot a rifle with no hearing protection, probably the cause of some slight hearing damage - my mother never forgave him for that one! I visited him one Easter, and as I left, he dug a whole dead rabbit out of the freezer and handed it to me saying "You'd better take this". Shooting rabbits was an important way of keeping the crops from being eaten. I boarded the crowded train back to London carrying a frozen Easter Bunny which I quickly hid in the luggage rack while avoiding horrified looks from nearby parents with children. He hadn't thought a bag was necessary. I was lucky enough to have him around until I was well into adulthood, unlike my children who have just lost their second grandpa. So it was especially precious to spend the last few days camping on a patch of land adjoining my grandpa’s old farm. He’s buried here and we get to watch the next generation playing together, making bonds and memories, next to his grave. I’m grateful for this togetherness of the dead and the living, a reminder of the circle of life, and the ability to connect with the land he farmed and toiled over. 

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