So my Grandad, Cy Grant. I wont go into every detail of his life mostly because he has covered it so beautifully and thoroughly in his books and his own work.
He has a very nice Wikipedia page
I have personal videos and eulogies about his life. He made a huge impact on myself. My beliefs, opinions and personality all stemmed from time with him. he was a gifted artist, a philosopher and probably the most intelligent person I was lucky enough to share my life with.
His death left a terrible hole in my heart and life. My last contact with him was when I was in a particularly low ebb and it was rude and ignorant. One of my biggest regrets was being too ill to be with him near the end. It took a lot of time in therapy to realise that his impact as a father figure in my life was something I was not dealing with sufficiently. Grief can be especially difficult when you are disabled, but this grief became one of my triggers for my second breakdown. I was unable to accept the terms we had left on, it completely blocked the wonderful life and experiences we had shared for the vast majority of my time on this Earth.
I am very fortunate however, because before our current age of technology, digital photography and film archives, it was hard to have memories of people we love and lose. Cy however had such a vast publication of media, from music albums, tv shows, films and books. I am able to tap into his work and his life whenever I want and still draw inspiration from him.
My most clear first memory is in one of the pictures in the album below. I was 5 years old on my birthday, I can remember the excitement of mum and Baz giving me a Thomas the Tank cake, Grandad was sitting watching with a huge smile on his face.
Its also important to highlight as a child how important it was for me having a multicultural family. As a white male, in western world, my life will always be very simple. Stigma and persecution is something I thought I would never deal with personally. I heard stories of the torture of my Grandad in the War, the difficulties he had back in England after the war, and his constant battles with being accepted for who he was. It was something I couldn’t understand, I mean Cy was my hero, a legend in my eyes. Why did other people not see that. I began to understand a bit clearer when I became ill. People inherently don’t want to deal with difficult things, things they don’t understand. People want life to be simple and this can make them selfish. This can be hard to accept as all we want is a good life, and not to be ignored.
His book Blackness and the Dreaming Soul, is a wonderful dichotomy between his autobiography of his achievements and the inability to accept people of colour in positions of power or influence.
Being around him was like being a student, ready to learn, he taught me guitar, acting, writing as a child. And then as a grown up I would spend weeks with him and we would walk, and sit and just talk. I realised that he was sharing his legacy with me, he was passing on what he had learnt. It was overwhelming. I have been lucky to get exceptional love from people in my life. From Mum and Baz it was a caring love, but from Grandad it was a sharing love. He wanted to leave me with knowledge, he craved teaching his lessons. Don’t get me wrong, he could be stubborn at times and some of his views were old fashioned, but he taught me that you should never be to bold to accept you can be wrong.
Because his death was such a negative feature of my mental health, I was just unable to capture the magic of his teachings and life during my low times. Now I feel so grateful to be able to look back on, not only my life with him, but his life as whole.
He was a brilliant person to have graced this world. My gift to the world is continuing to share what he shared with me.