Happy Birthday!

Today is the day a great person was born. Today, one of the greatest men that ever lived arrived on the planet, and his goal in life was to make people smile, to teach people to live life, and to show that no matter what, you just had to keep pushing through everything.

Today, my Grandfather would have been 85 years old.

Albert "Oz" Osmotherly was probably the biggest male role-model in my entire life.  He was the one man that was always there when I needed him, when I needed a smile, when I had a stupid question that mum couldn't answer...

My earliest memory of him was him helping in the back garden of one of our old houses. I'm not entirely sure what he was doing, I just remember him, tanned leathery skin, working hard digging or something.  He was a hairy man, chest, back, arms... And as he got older, the hairs turned a silvery colour.

Quite often, Gemma & myself would stay over at Nan and Granddads for a couple of days - mainly to give mum a break from the pair of us - and if it were a weekday, it started early.  Half five in the morning, we'd all be up, he had to be at work in London, so we would have breakfast at the same time. Invariably, we would "argue" over who had the most toast, who ate all his lime marmalade, and he would have to change his tie because he generally ended up dripping egg yolk down it from his boiled egg and soldiers.

We would then see him off to the station, and spend the day with Nan, charging around, helping out, gardening, baking or whatever. When we knew he was due back, we'd sit and wait for him to get in, and he'd arrive after a long day, and sit and play with us, or sort out the garden bits Nan had left for him... He used to LOVE burning all the garden rubbish of an evening - a Smokey Joe's, he'd call it - and we would sit breathing in the smell of a summers night tinged with smoke.

Weekends he didn't have to work - but we were still up early - and usually doing PROPER garden stuff. It was Granddad that taught me to mix cement, set up a plumb line, doing pointing on a wall, and how to look after a garden.

If Gemma and me seemed bored, he would sort out something for us to do - his potting shed became the Kids Kafe, and he would arrive with things for us to sell him. However, we often used to get blamed for the things he did - he once heard he could trim his own hair with a razor, and upon trying it, he butchered his hairline.

He told his barber WE did it while he was asleep... GRANTED, we used to play with his hair all the time - he styled it with Baby Oil, so no matter what you did to it, it stayed like it.

He would tell us stories about the things he did in the war - parachuting injury scars, meeting nan by falling off a World War II Bomber wing and breaking his leg, things he did "behind enemy lines" and so on... We often thought his stories were just that, but after he died, we found declassified documents that pretty much confirmed the things he did behind enemy lines.

He served the United Kingdom in the Army, and travelled the world. He and Nan had mum while they were stationed in Suez, Egypt. They lived in Singapore and Australia at various times. After the Army, he worked in London, trying to work out how to redevelop land, scrub land left over from the war, wasteland that was old disused dock areas - land that today is known as Canary Wharf.

When he died, it was a sudden shock, and I couldn't believe it. He was such a big part of my life, and I often think about the things he taught me, how he gave me the values that I still hold true today.  He is also partly to blame for my slightly more mischievous side and my dark sense of humour.  Were it not for my Granddad, I would be a very different person today.  His best present, however, was on his 50th birthday, when I was born - even if he did think it was VERY unfair he had to celebrate with me!

So Happy Birthday, Granddad.  I miss you lots, and hope you're having a great time teaching people how to wind up everyone else!

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One Response to “Happy Birthday!”

Anonymous said...

Lol I always remember Christmas with Grandad and his xmas hat with the line of baby oil around it.

Also, us scrubbing the garage and always losing a couple of layers of skin!

Happy Birthday Granddad. x