Tomorrow my last surviving grandparent turns 96. For as long as I can remember Dave (everyone calls him Dave, my sister and I included) has been joking that he’s got 500 weeks left in him. Sadly, the last few years have been a very fast decline from what was a very active and healthy man. When he finally moved out of the family home 2.5 – 3 years ago, he had been living in a 3rd floor apartment and walking up and down the stairs every day without issue. On his 90th birthday he played 9 holes of golf. When my grandmother died 16 years ago he found himself on a very steep learning curve which included trying a new piece of fruit in the supermarket which turned out to be a whole chilli and learning that you don’t boil broccoli for as long as you boil potatoes.

Dave is the epitome of your traditional Australian war era father. He and my grandmother waited for him to come home from war to get married and have a family. Some of my earliest memories are Dave helping me in their pool when I was learning to swim telling me I’d broken my record. All I could think at the time was “why on earth would you break your records? You wouldn’t be able to listen to them if you broke them.” I can quite happily admit that my older sister was by far my grandfather’s favourite. He only has the two of us as grandchildren and my sister was the first born and the apple of his eye. It was sweet to see the look on his face when she did something, and nothing could tarnish that for him. He and I challenged each other I think but we always had a great laugh and I know he appreciated my cheeky sense of humour.

Why am I writing in the past tense even though he’s still alive? Sadly Dave has a brain tumour, which at his age won’t be treated, and all year he’s been fighting a cough which developed into pneumonia at the start of the year. At one point in January they were giving him a week to live. Apparently that fighting spirit just won’t let him go. It’s sad to see him the way he is now, only semi coherent at best and for a very proud man to be completely reliant on others. It’s heartbreaking. I know he’s not reading this but I want to let him know that it’s ok for him to stop fighting, we’ll be ok. It will be so sad to say goodbye to him but I’m sure he’ll be happier and my grandmother is patiently waiting for him somewhere better.

Thank you Dave, for everything.