She had said she would accompany me back to the place I last saw him. It wasn’t going to be easy as we’d left each other on such unpleasant terms.
But relatives are relatives she told more than once, we don’t get to choose them, and she was right as always.
It was a good fifteen years since the day I parted company with my grandfather, the man who had raised me after my mum and dad had been killed in a car accident. We’d always been the best of mates was how he saw it, and my decision to leave home and go to University in Queensland had puzzled him and caused us much angst.
The bottom line I realized later was he was afraid to see me go and being a proud man, he wasn’t going to admit to any weakness of feeling.
So, we’d argued. He said there was a perfectly good University in town which would give me the qualification I sought and on top of that I would be able to help him around the farm.
I argued I needed to find myself, break away and discover the world and see if I had a place in it. His frustration boiled over the day I was to leave when he fronted me and said if I went I was to never return, he didn’t want to see me ever again.
I was angry too, and I told him that I wouldn’t be back and stormed off. It had never sat evenly with me that we had parted in such a way.
Today the journey back was long, I let Abby drive for my mind was distracted with thoughts of Grandpa and what he might have to say when I arrived. As it was, it took three years after leaving before I started to send him a Christmas card, just to let him know I was okay. From him, I received nothing until a year ago when his neighbour Gus Armstrong had written to say my Grandpa was aging and it might be a good idea to come back to see him.
There’s a long straight drive from the road down to the old farmhouse. I could see it was in a degree of neglect, the lawns were not mown, the place needed a good paint, and I could see a few boards were off the side of the house.
I pulled up, and sat and looked at the place, I felt Abby take my hand and urge me to get out and go see how he was.
I pushed through the front gate as Grandpa came out the front door.
I looked at him to see tears running down his face. As I approached, he threw his arms around my neck and held me close.
“I never thought you’d come back,” he cried, “I’m so sorry for what happened. I should have known I should have let you go, but my pride got the better of me.”
I didn’t say anything as I was so taken by his response. My Grandpa was a tough man, he wasn’t one to express emotions, but today I saw another side of him.
“I’m glad I came too Grandpa, I’m sorry for what happened too and sorry for what I said when I left.”
He looked at me and said, “It’s in the past now son, let’s try and get along today. There’s a lot I want to tell you.”
Grandpa never needed much of an invitation to tell you anything and today was no different. He fixed some tea, found a few biscuits, and we settled on the veranda.
He warmly greeted Abby and in his usual cheeky way asked how she had allowed herself to get tangled up with a character such as me. Abby, in turn, smiled at him, won his heart there and then and whispered to him, “I’m lucky I guess.”
The journey home was far more successful than I ever anticipated, and it felt good to be home with the one’s I loved.