Ambrose Charles Quinn, known to one and all as Charles, was born in 1916. He was tall and kind and funny and clever and strong and always there, with tales to tell of hijinks on motorcycles, beautiful cars, days of yore and warm family holidays filled with love.
He was my Grandad, and he died this afternoon. I miss him already.
Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of school holidays spent with Nana and Grandad and Tosca, their gorgeous dog. We’d go walking, or tinker with Grandad’s latest car, and the house would smell of rich stew, our lunch.
In the cupboard – behind the sliding doors of the sideboard – was a stash of Grandad’s Mints. I’ve no idea what they’re really called; they are white, and roundish, and crumbly. Grandad’s Mints. They were always there and there was always one for me and Richard. And the dog.
It’s the little things you remember; the dog walks in the bluebell woods, the Pembrokeshire coastal path, sand castles on Marloes Beach, and slideshows. Grandad’s way of telling a story, dotted with ‘buggers’ and ‘bloodys’ and earning a raised eyebrow or a tut from Nana.
He had a Panther ‘thumper’ motorcycle; way before I was born. He put a sidecar on it. With Nana on the back, and my dad and his sisters in the sidecar, they went off for daytrips and holidays… He loved his caravan too. I don’t think there are many places in Britain that Nana and Grandad didn’t visit. He loved England, our countryside and coasts. Too much to see, and not enough time.
When he couldn’t drive any more, he took a great interest in everyone else’s cars. And he was delighted when I learned to ride a motorcycle! He knew engines inside out, and rebuilt, renovated and fixed up a dazzling series of cars. The one that sticks in my mind is a white Jaguar, from the days when cars were truly things of beauty and they all looked different. Grandad loved cars and motorcycles, and he passed that enthusiasm onto my dad, and onto me. Thank you.
Then I met and married my Joe, and Grandad loved him. They’d talk for hours about bikes, and bike trips, and travels and broken vehicles.
He married my Nana 70 years ago. Seventy years! Platinum, apparently… You can’t find a card. We had a party, which was lovely. They were married for 70 years, happily, and wonderfully.
How to fit 96 years into a blog post? And do justice to someone so lovely? Clearly I can’t. And now I can’t believe he’s gone. He and Nana, and my Grandma, have always been there.
Sleep well and peacefully Grandad. Thank you for everything. I love you.