It is hard to think of someone I know with a better heart than my grandfather, the way I know him. Always approachable and loving, with an almost childish-like fascination and curiosity. He didn’t go to university, began his working life at around six as a shepherd, but his mind would always see the workings behind things, a philosophical mind. He loved a simple life of dedication to the way he loved his family and worked his craft.
I will never forget a story he told me about a project at work. He used to work in a coal mine as a welder fixing the big machines when they break down from all the extreme pressures of clashing constantly against all types of rocks. One day the bucket of a backhoe broke and they called him to fix it. He told them “bring it to my work station” (as he taught me, always set your working environment first so that you are comfortable before you try to work on the problem at hand).
They brought the massive bucket and he looked at it. It had a crack on the corner where two metal plates are joined together with a factory solder. He thought that for the pressure that bucket must endure it was not strong enough. He told himself talking to the bucket in his mind – “I will fix you so that you cannot break anymore and the next person that sees my work will wonder about the mind and the handiwork of the one who fixed you.”. After working on it all day he fixed it, reinforcing it so that the stress gets more evenly distributed which prevents it from falling just in the corner area.
He told me that no job should be boring and if it is, then the problem lays with the worker, not with the job. Every thing he had to do, he would always try to make it better and solve it so that he can proudly show it after, rather than just finish it by doing the minimum required. Cooking, cleaning, building, everything was something he did with pride and joy as if it was all a game and fun to do, not another chore life throws at him.
Dedo Kolio (as we call him) loved to play with his grand-grandkids the most I think. I could see him lit up when they (or we, the older ones) were around. From someone who was without parents and brought up by his uncle, he moved to a new place and managed to created a big family with five grandkids and three (so far) grand-grandchildren.
He loved to drink coffee and was proud that he hasn’t tasted alcohol in I don’t even remember how many years. He used to say – “You will never hear a case of a man who beat his wife because he had too much coffee” – and a blissful sip would follow.
I am sitting in bed, thinking about him now waiting for the morning to come so that I can join the rest of the family in saying goodbye. Yes, it’s sad to know that you won’t see someone that you love anymore, but at the same time I cannot be sad because I can see that he had a great life, a life that makes me smile and makes me proud that I am his grandson.