By Daniel Parker
You see, my beloved Grandad, Gordon Eckley, sadly passed away a couple of months ago, on the morning of Sunday 2nd June 2013.
I’ve never imagined a world without my Grandad, and I’ll never truly accept that he has gone. I wanted to write this blog for him, and about him, mentioning a few of the reasons why we all loved him so much.
Grandad spent his whole life being a very caring, gentle, and hard working man. Not only in his career as a teacher, but as a family man and friend too.
He grew up in Wales in his early days, and was always a proud Welshman, but when he met my Grandmother, he moved to Essex and lived in Grays for well over 50 years I believe, he lived here for the rest of his life.
Pretty much everyone in Grays knew his name. Why? Two reasons really, 1), because of all the years he spent teaching at the Grays school, and all the pupils that remember him fondly as one of their favourite teachers. And 2), purely because of the lovely man that he was. You don’t forget the lovely people in life.
Grandad was always out and about Grays, especially at the Green Line Social Club, where he spent many happy years, with dear friends. It was a place for him to unwind and relax. Of course many people knew him from the rugby club too. He played for Thurrock Rugby Club for many years, and continued to be associated with the club until late in his life. Sport was one of Grandad’s biggest passions, he was a PE teacher, so it had to be really.
I personally have many fantastic memories of Grandad, I want to share some. Growing up, I only had one Grandad, as sadly my other Grandad passed away when I was just 4 months old, so I never got to know him. Of course, having one Grandad made myself and my 3 Brothers even closer to him. Ever since I was little, Grandad was such an iconic figure in my life. He was a fair man, and although he could be very strict, it was only when he needed to be. You respected him for sure. This brings me onto some funny stories.
I say the stories are funny, at the time they weren’t, but even when we looked back on them with Grandad, he chuckled with us as we reminisced. You see, there was no one, and I mean no one, who had a more scary shouting voice than my Grandad. My Brothers and I knew that if we did something wrong, and Grandad knew about it, then we could expect a good telling off from him. A few examples; there was a time when my old Brother Gareth and I, decided to randomly tip a tub of milk over my Grandparents’ neighbours’ fence. Why we did this, I have no idea, especially considering we were doing it at Grandad’s house. If I remember rightly, my Grandparents didn’t know about it at first, but I still to this day remember their next door neighbour telling my Grandad what we had done. He went made! His face was all red, and although I can’t remember what he said, he gave us a good shout, and I remember my Brother and I running into the living room where Grandma was, we were in complete terror.
A couple more personal ones now. One day after school, I had lost my P.E. Kit, and Grandad picked my Brothers and I up that day. I got in his car and said “Grandad, I’ve lost my PE Kit!” He replied “YOU’VE LOST IT AGAIN!?!” (Clearly, I had a bad habit of losing my PE Kits.) Grandad gave me a good telling off, and had me go round the school for another look, I couldn’t find it. He started driving us home, we got to the end of the long road that the school was on, and I said that I may have left the PE Kit in the school canteen. As soon as I said that, Grandad pulled the car round and drove back to the school. I got out with one of my Brothers, and we looked in the canteen – it wasn’t there. We got back into Grandad’s car and, for the second time, made our way home. We got even further into the journey this time, bearing in mind that the journey in the car from school to home usually took about 15 minutes, and we were probably two thirds of the way home this time around. I mentioned that the PE Kit could have possibly been left in the gym. Once again, Grandad drove the car around, back towards the school. I looked in the gym, nope, it wasn’t there. Back in the car we got, and for the third time, we made our way back home. Now this time, we got even closer to home (I mean, we were pretty much there), and I told Grandad that my PE Kit may have been left in a classroom I was in earlier that day. Yep, for the third time, we drove all the way back to the school. The PE Kit wasn’t in the classroom that I thought it could have been, however, on my way out of the school, in tears of panic, I spotted my PE Kit on a bench. I felt so very relieved. I couldn’t wait to tell Grandad that I had found it. Fair to say, he was as pleased as I was.
Here’s another classic telling off from Grandad that I got. I remember one day, probably about 7 years ago, I was with my Mum and Brother in Lakeside for the day. I can’t exactly remember why, but I spent the whole day sulking and playing my Mum up. I reckon I was just being lazy and couldn’t be bothered to walk around, especially in clothing stores, which I always used to refer to as ‘boring stores.’ Anyway, my Mum was of course cross with me, and I remember we had to go to Grandad and Grandma’s house after our trip to Lakeside. When we arrived at their house, my Mum and Brother got out the car, I didn’t. I was still sulking and just wanted to be left on my own in the car. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I was an idiot really, as of course Grandad was going to find out what a pain in the backside I had been that day. Suddenly, I looked in the back window screen to see my Grandad coming towards the car, I was in absolute panic, and didn’t know what to do. I even thought about pretending to go to sleep, but what good would that have done!? A red faced Grandad appeared by the door I was sitting closest too. The car we had had those doors that you slide open. Grandad struggled to open the door at first, but with his second attempt, succeeded. Then, there it was. A good telling off from Grandad. These are just a couple of examples of the times where I behaved badly and received a good telling off from Grandad. They’re always more funny to talk about in person. In fact, when we were all with Grandad, we discussed the various times we got told off by him, doing our best impressions of Grandad and everything, and, as I said earlier, he found it all just as funny as we did.
With Grandad being Welsh, and of course after spending his childhood in Wales, we had many happy family holidays with him in Wales. We’d go every Easter, renting a cottage for a week or two, and we always had the best time. Grandad, Grandma, my Mum, Dad, my Brothers and I would travel up there together, with my older Brother and I usually going up in my Grandparents’ car. We always joked about how we had to endure a whole 5 hour car journey of Classic FM on the radio, but Grandad and Grandma always had the best sweets in their car! When we were in Wales, Grandad often took us to various places he grew up in, including a mill which was his childhood home. In fact one year, we were even lucky enough to be granted access by the current owners to look inside the mill, we all found it very fascinating. It must have been very strange for Grandad, going back inside the mill after all those years. We’d often meet up with Grandad’s two Sisters in Wales and do various things with them, whether it be having picnics, looking around the town, or a good old day on a beach. We also went to see my Grandad’s Aunt Nancy, who lived well into her 90s, on various occasions, as well as his cousins. Wow, those Wales holidays really were terrific. It was such a shame Grandad couldn’t have had just one more, but he was too ill in the end, and if would have been too risky incase something happened.
I’ll bring this blog to a close now. I feel like I have wrote a lot about Grandad, but there are just so many more wonderful stories to tell and memories to share. I’d like to end this blog with a personal message to my Grandad:
First of all, thank you. Thank you so much for all you did for us. You worked very hard for our family. Whether it be coming to repair something, looking after us with Grandma if Mum and Dad were out one night, or all the lifts you gave me and my Brothers to and from school. Thank you also for keeping us all in order, I will always remember you saying that the telling offs were purely only for our own benefit and because you want us to succeed in life, I didn’t realise that at the time, but of course I do now.
Also, I’d like to thank you for always being there to turn to. If I was having a bad day, I’d come round and do a crossword with you whilst having a cup of tea. We’d then watch all the quiz shows on the TV. I never told you how much all that meant to me, but it really did. I especially loved our conversations, whether it be about the football, what was going on news wise, absolutely anything, we had so many brilliant one to one conversations. I also thank you for all the times you took me and the Boys down the Green Line club with you every Sunday, we absolutely loved that.
You did so much for me personally when I grew up, teaching me to tie my shoe laces, helping me with school work, working so hard to try and get me to swim! You taught me some important life lessons, respect everyone, care for all those closest to you, and of course, take the upmost pride in yourself.
Life will never be the same without you, you’re absolutely irreplaceable, and the day you passed away was a day which I just never thought would come. I cry whilst writing this, but know this Grandad, we knew how much you adored us, and you knew how much we adored you. The last time I saw you, you could barely speak, you took my hand and gripped it tight, it was your way of saying how much you loved me, and I’ll never forget that. You were one of a kind and it absolutely pains me that I’ll never be able to see you again and have a conversation with you again. I know, though, that you’re up in Heaven now, looking down on us and you’ll guide us through our lives. It was an absolute honour being your Grandson, Grandad. Thank you for 19 and a half years of unconditional love. You’ll always live on in our hearts.
God Bless you.