I never knew either of my grandfathers, both sadly died before I was born in 1961.
My father’s family were from Riga, Latvia and moved to Northern Ireland before my father settled in Manchester.
My mother’s family were from Kishneff, Russia and they moved to Manchester.
I was close with my Grandma, my mum’s mother and remember her often coming to stay and having Friday night dinner with us.
One visit to my Grandma’s home stays with me forever. When I was very young she asked me what I wanted for tea. I asked for chips, so she took me into her back garden to dig up potatoes, before making them for me. It’s a memory I remember well.
Perhaps this was the reason I initially spent 30+ years in catering rather than in my father’s business, Albany Travel, before changing career and specialising in hosting, designing and marketing websites.
Today I have three grandchildren, two daughters, two sons-in-law and a beautiful wife.
As I work from home, the lockdown was not as much of a challenge for me as perhaps for others.
It taught me to eat healthier food, to renew my passion for cooking as a trained chef, to exercise more and it also gave me an opportunity to build a truck in my spare time for my eldest grandson.
I want my grandchildren to have lots of happy memories of their Poppa, to have what I never had.
The ‘great’ grandfathers I’ve known gave their grandchildren many happy memories. I’ve heard so many friends and family tell me their fondest stories and I am determined that my grandchildren should have something to remember from me.
So last year I bought some plans and using nothing more than old wood, hand tools and spare paint, started building my grandson Max this truck.
During the lockdown, I often FaceTimed with him and told him about the truck I was building. Our call often included “Poppa can I see the truck?”
I’ve just finished it so I couldn’t wait to see the happiness on his face. I’ve missed him as he lives in London.
Last year I built a puzzle for my granddaughter Ella, and I know she plays with it, so I hoped that Max too would love his new truck.
On a side note I’ve even been learning to play the piano using an app and have taken to the garden, growing vegetables and fruits that I hope to pick with my grandchildren.
As a Magistrate, I have found running family courts via telephone hearings a real challenge, whilst running adult (criminal) courts under social distancing rules in the courts themselves.
In fact it is giving back to the community as a magistrate that makes you appreciate what you have and the life you live. So often it is the grandparents that come to the rescue in family cases.
But being a ‘great’ grandfather to my three grandchildren is my personal mission.
Lessons of how to be the Poppa I never had come from many wonderful grandparents, past and present. Personally I’ve missed the childrens kisses, cuddles and that physical presence that helps all grandparents to form that special bond, but as lockdown is lifted, bubbles are formed and social distancing is reduced, I get that bit closer.
We finally got to London to spend time with the family and in particular to be with Teddy on his first birthday.
Thankfully Max loves the truck!