Well, it’s been an emotional time here for me as I very recently said my goodbyes to my dear departed grandfather. He was 94 years old and his brain was still as sharp as a tack…but unfortunately his body decided enough was enough.
My pop, Jack, was a man of few words and real gentle-man who cared very much for those close to him, even if he didn’t show much emotion. He was hardworking, knowledgeable and resourceful, inventive and innovative, and a huge Carlton Blues fan.
My pop was a carpenter and joiner back in his day (in fact he was employed in the one place for 45 years!). On retirement, he never stopped building and making and inventing things. His double-garage was his favourite place to be, he’d potter for hours in there. Now I say “double” garage, but you could barely park one car in there – it was full to the brim with timber and odd planks (many suspended from precariously from the rafters!), other building materials leaned against every wall, there were work benches with clamps and saws and drills, shelves lined with jars and containers full of nails and screws and other bits and bobs, plus all the camping gear like folding chairs and eskies and tarps… (We spent every summer as kids at Eildon Weir with my nan and pop, uncle, aunty, cousins and family-friends – camping, fishing, building cubbies amongst the pine trees, yabbying… all life-experiences that have helped shape who I am today). Anyway, Pop’s garage was a treasure trove of “stuff”. My pop was a great recycler you see – he never grew anything out – you never knew when it come in handy!
Pop was always very creative and inventive…he was a problem solver. One of my favourite inventions of his was a “lemon-picker” to steal lemons off the high branches of the neighbour’s lemon tree…they were hanging over his side of the fence, after all, and you couldn’t let them of to waste! The invention was a long stick with an aluminium-can attached to the end, so that you could reach up and get the lemon in the can, then use the sharp rim to cut through the stalk and pull the lemon off the tree. Genius!
He loved his garden, and would take great pride in growing tomatoes each year. He would get very impressive yields, and sometimes the plants were huge! Pop always had an intricate twine and bamboo-scaffolding system in place to tie up the plants to help support the weight of all the fruit. He was always finding a creative, hands-on solution to a problem – using found materials from his garage.
Pop and my dad built the large extension to my family home when I was about 4 years old (in the early 1980s). The existing weatherboard cottage was small and cold…so dad read up on solar-passive-design and was inspired by the local Eltham mud-brick and natural building movement. Pop and dad were ‘owner-builders’, and soon transformed our home to twice the size, and made it a much more “sustainable” home. There was no double-glazing then of course…but the new addition was orientated so that the living areas faced north and opened to the backyard, there were double brick walls made with local handmade bricks, pine-lining, slate and natural sisal flooring, a hand-drafted timber-kitchen and it situated to take advantage of the shade of an existing mature deciduous Liquid Amber tree. I don’t remember a lot about the building works taking place, but we were home and “on-site” every day so am sure it had a huge influence on me and my chosen career path!
So goodbye dear Pop. I am so grateful you were around long enough to get to know any enjoy your great-grandsons (our boys). They loved you very much, and they thought it was awesome that you were the oldest person they knew – “Poppy Jack is very very very very very very old!”. I love that both learned to walk with the help of your walking frame – “Poppy Jacks’s ‘wheels'”. And I love that you and my youngest had a very special connection during his first year, when we would see you weekly to run errands together…he couldn’t yet talk, and you couldn’t hear anyway, but you both managed to communicate with smiles, facial expressions, and hand-shakes.
We’ll miss you xxx