As I cycled up Mobhí Road this morning I passed a man smoking a pipe and the smell of it and the smile he gave me made me wobble off my bike. I hurt my shin but it was fine, I was wearing my helmet.
The smell of the pipe smoke and the smile reminded me of my grandad, who died four years ago last March. I miss him and I don't. And I miss him. I am reassured by how life has gone on without him just like it will go on without you or me, and knowing that makes me swell with hope and feel terribly sad all at the same time. I miss him for my nana. Her love doesn't live with her any more and I think of how impossibly hard it must be to dress yourself every morning knowing that. And yet she does it.
I miss him for my mam, who misses her dad. I miss him for my dad, who he was a second father to, long years after his own father died. I never knew him.
I miss him for my husband, who he never met. He'd have liked him. He liked kind men and I can imagine how he'd have sat me down to tell me how much he liked Andrew and how proud he'd have been to see me marry him. He liked to sit me down to tell me things. He wrote me a letter just once, telling me why I shouldn't smoke. It was important to him. I smoked anyway, and didn't keep the letter. I really wish I had.
I'm crying now. Quietly, so that the secretary won't notice. It'd be too hard to explain to her that I'm crying because a man smoking a pipe smiled at me this morning and my grandad died four and half years ago.
I borrowed a bike from him in 2007. It was a loan; he was ill by then and couldn't cycle but he wasn't done with it. He never had a car. He learned to drive a delivery van when he was young but he and nana spent fifty-odd years going anywhere they needed to on bikes. This one, a silver Trek, was as good as new. I rode to work on it a few times. I locked it up in the underground car park of the apartment block where I lived and forgot about it like you would a promise to meet up soon, no really, let's not leave it so long next time. Next time was in 2008. I went to the car park to get it so that I could loan it to a friend but it was gone. I never told nana. I felt too ashamed, not that it had been stolen but that I hadn't noticed, or cared.
I bought a new bike last November, and started riding it to work this summer. I told nana about it, forgetting in my excitement that I'd never told her about losing grandad's one. She's been very encouraging, and will be very proud of me when I ride across the city to see her tomorrow and arrive with a pink flush in my cheeks and a heart bursting to show her how well I am, how well I've done, how far I've come, how much I love her. How I've a bruise on my shin from wobbling off my bike on Mobhí Road. She will understand why.