My ninety year old grandfather was supposed to die last week. He’s had a long series of set backs. His kidneys are failing, he has a form of septicaemia in the blood which the strongest antibiotics available were unable to fight, he can’t open his eyes, he can’t speak, he can’t breathe without the aid of an oxygen mask. The doctors have said they can’t do anything else for him. His only aid in his weakened state is some anaesthetic and a nurse regularly turning him to prevent the build up of pressure sores. It was and is shocking to see. I last saw him two days ago, he was conscious, only able to try and move his head. 

Rather than write the usual tedious platitudes when he ultimately dies, which at this rate could be long after the rest of the family, I want to write this now.

My brother said that he initially didn’t want to see him in such a state. That he wanted to remember him as he was. Understandable. However, as I saw him and as he remains at the time of writing is how I want to remember him. What he has shown in these last few days, to continue to survive beyond what would otherwise be considered feasible is the ultimate testament to the mental strength and fortitude of the man. 

From a generation of men, which are probably the last to embody the real assured, mature masculinity, assertive, respectful and dignified without being soft or overly sensitive. 

I didn’t always agree with my grandfathers points of view, but he didn’t mind that, because he wasn’t from a generation of sissies who had such a fragile sensitive outlook towards being disagreed with or told they’re wrong. Capable of putting a point across without having a meltdown. Assertive. 

A sergeant in the Army, in Burma after World War 2. A boxer in his younger days, he has shown (and shows) the same insurmountable resilience to the last. He has my undimmed and untarnished respect for the dignity and courage he has shown. Masculinity doesn’t come from the physical, it comes from the maturity shown in situations where the physical has absconded. 

A true man, from a generation made of stronger, better stuff. 


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