Philobiblon: RIP

Monday, July 18, 2005


I learnt today that my grandfather, Ralph, died on the 18th of last month. He was 86, and had had little contact with our family since he left my grandmother when I was 11. It was a midnight flit, and I don't think anyone knew where he was for years, although he did spend Christmas with us when I was 17, and I spent a few days with him in Townsville about five years after that.

Mum was always going to visit him, but he was two flights and quite a lot of money away, so she never got around to it. Calling him to tell him that she had been killed was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.

He found himself a new family in Townsville and I think they did a wonderful job of looking after him. But before he died, they tell me, he destroyed virtually all of his papers, and consequently they had no contact details for me or his ex-wife or anyone else.

It was only because he kept a few of the newspaper articles that I'd written and sent to him that they were eventually able to trace me.

I don't know why I feel the urge to blog this - I guess it is a small record of a life. By profession he was a radiator mechanic, he had a sister Ina, I believe now dead, and a brother Noel Lee White, whom we are trying to track down (last known location the Gold Coast, I'll add on the off chance). His life was limited for many years by glaucoma and high blood pressure, and he became very deaf, which made phone conversations pretty well impossible.

That's really all I can think of to say.

Normal blogging will resume tomorrow.


Anonymous la peregrina said...

Family relationships are so complicated. My father was out of my life but when he died I grieved. Later I realized I was grieving not because he had died but because his death had reminded me that I never had a father.

I am so sorry for your loss.

7/19/2005 01:35:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Thanks, la peregrina. And I'm sorry for your loss - we would all be better off, I think, if we realised just how rare ( perhaps non-existent?) the textbook functional, family is.

7/19/2005 03:14:00 pm  

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