My Love for Him will never expire… An epitaph for Mr John Phipps

A tribute to my Granddad-

17/04/1931-19/05/2015

A Father, A Grandfather, An Uncle, A Loyal Friend, A Brilliant Mathematician and A Good Man.
My Granddad, Granddad John was no ordinary man. What a life he lead, full of adventure, Rum, Guinness, Home Brew and Cow’s Foot! He was a rogue of a young man, full of deceit and debauchery but somehow blossomed into a wonderful, warm, kind and gentle being. The pain that he caused my Nan as a Husband and my Mother and Aunts and Uncles as a Father, I do not know. They are not my reality, just stories. The man that I knew was humble and loyal to all of his many grandchildren and any family member that would permit him to do so.
I remember when he used to baby sit me as a child. He made the best scrambled eggs and we often indulged on buttered crackers with sugar. The crackers sound disgusting now as an adult but whenever I think of the strange delicacy, I will always think of him.
As a teenager growing up without a father or male role figure, my granddad happily filled that position. He would take me to McDonalds, clothes shopping, give me pocket money and pick my friends and I up from school in the car. This one time, my friends and I were eyeing up a young gentlemen that was passing on the road as we were in Grandad’s car. We spoke of how cute the boy was. All the while granddad was driving us along, we thought that he wasn’t listening but oh how he was. He beeped the horn several times at the young man that my friends and I were ogling. Over taken with embarrassment, my friends and I ducked whilst granddad was chuckling away to himself. He was a joker. Often quiet, but always listening.
For a long time (until she passed away) my dog Remy was Granddads best pal. He would let her out into the garden in the day whilst mum was working and I was at school. She adored him, as he did her. Remy was really fat and I blame that solely on my Grandfather! He would feed her cakes and fresh sausage rolls from the bakery and often gave her chocolate and polo’s, even though we told him not to. Remy loved Grandad John so, so much, she would always urinate with excitement when she saw him!
Grandad John was never one to complain, he was riddled with bowel cancer, was slowing down with a dodgy ticker and genuinely quite unwell towards the end. All the while, he would take the time to call me and see if I was ok. He would worry about me and all of his family but never himself. He never complained, even at the very end.
I went to visit Grandad John the night before he died 18/05/2105. I was quite physically unwell that day but when Mum told me how unwell he was, wild horses couldn’t stop me from going along with her to visit. He looked so frail and uncomfortable, his little statue barely taking any room in the tiny hospital bed. He was holding his oxygen max up because it was uncomfortable on his nose. I held it for him and lay his hands down to rest. I joked about how you would have thought that the NHS would have invented and provided oxygen masks for people with African, Carribean descent and massive noses by now! He laughed. I stroked his head, held his hand. He was trying to talk but short for breath. He spoke of how this new operation should work better then the last. He spoke of my aunty and how it was her birthday. I began to cry and told him that I loved him. Ever since I was little, he would never say I love you (even though you knew that he did) he would just say, “Good, Good” or, “Yes, Yes”. This time he said, “And I do you!” He wished me a happy birthday which showed how compos mentis he was in the mind as my birthday is not until May 22nd. His wish in advance should have been a clue, perhaps he knew his fate but I never interpreted it that way at the time. I apologised for not taking him to the pub, this was something that we had been planning for some time but were both to unwell to commit. It was something in the pipeline, he said, “There is plenty of time for that!” Whether he said that to comfort me or because he genuinely didn’t realise how unwell he was, only he knows. He slept eventually, a really deep sleep. Nurses came in and out to check him over but he never woke up. When Mum went to the toilet I prayed quietly and then out loud, my hand on his head, I said my own special prayer.
“Archangel Michael. Archangel Raphael. My Gaui Anger. Mary. Jesus. Joseph. God. Stars. Universe. Planet. I call upon you now to help this man. Should he stay, please see that he has the strength and power to fight, to heal, to live. Please help him on this journey. Help him get through the operation to give him a better quality of life. Should you take him, please spare him from pain. Please keep him safe and remind him that he was loved and will be truly missed. Amen.”
As requested, a Doctor came to talk to Mum and I. Mum had filmed a video of Grandad which had now circulated around the family. People were worried, we feared that he may pass before the operation and did not want to leave until we knew what position Grandad was in. The Doctor reassured Mother and I that it would be safe to leave him. By now it was 1am and we knew that he would be getting visitors first thing. He was sound asleep and so we felt comfortable leaving him to rest, We were assured that if there were any changes, the nurses would call My Mum or My Uncle. The anaesthetist was due in the morning to check Grandad over and determine whether he was well enough for surgery. At the time the Doctor said that he couldn’t think of any reason why it would not go ahead. If only we knew.
I am glad that I got to see my Grandad before he died, before he was even too weak to talk but a huge part of me will always feel bad for not staying the night with him. I find comfort that he was not alone when he passed. He had most of his children with him, including my Mother. I just hope that there is an after-life and that he has gone somewhere peaceful. I hope that he knew that he was loved and that he will be dearly missed. He is my first family member to have died and gone and the pain is indescribable. I will love him and miss him for as long as I live. It is so, so sad. I wish him peace.

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One Reply to “My Love for Him will never expire… An epitaph for Mr John Phipps”

  1. Truly unique Jade, you are an amazing writer,I laughed, cried, laughed again but could not stop reading. It was beautiful, thank you for being so intuitive and sensitive at this so very sad time in our lives.
    Bless
    Mom x

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