Writing about video games can take you to some unexpected places – The death of my granddad

This piece skips happily down the road with this piece, try and read them both if you have the time.

Everything ages and eventually slips into obscurity, such is life. My parents are getting older; my father’s once magnificent ginger moustache has been steadily greying for the last half decade and now resembles an ageing cathode ray television; still full of energy but not all the glorious colour of the past. It is still a pretty magnificent moustache though, all the same. My grandmother, in her mid-seventies, has recently moved from the home she shared with my late grandfather as it was simply too large for her to live in alone. Did she go straight to a nursing home, away from the bright lights of society and all its moustachioed inhabitants? No, of course not, she moved to a one bedroom ground floor flat on a cul-de-sac where a few of her friends already reside. Living there makes it easier for her to go dancing, play whist, console and inspire recently bereaved local residents, go walking in the country and partake in the numerous other activities she now fills her time with.

Everything ages and eventually slips into obscurity, though how quickly this happens is entirely up to us. My grandad passed in 2007, shortly after I moved to London to study film and two months to the day before my sister’s sixteenth birthday. I remember the last time I saw him, lying in a hospital bed as dying people often are, and thankfully being able to say my goodbye. “I’ll see you later Grandad” were my chosen words. Looking back they seem somewhat impotent, filled with my characteristic lack of finality and consequence, and were the farthest they could have been from the reality of our situation. Still, they staved off the sadness of the occasion, allowing us to doff our caps one last time without troublesome tears.

They came about six months later while I was lying on a stranger’s floor in St John’s Wood. I’d been out with friends and one of their sisters was kind enough to let us stay with her for the night. It had been a rather enjoyable evening, I’m sure we saw a couple of bands and we certainly shared a few beers, though nothing indicated I’d later be staring at a ceiling quietly sobbing to myself for an hour or so, and in a stranger’s living room, flanked by two friends, no less. Why those months of grief decided to emerge at that point I’ll never know, though it was strangely comforting to know that they had been there all along, hiding somewhere inside waiting to prove that I had been deeply impacted by his death. My instinctive grief had been exorcised in a way and I could now move past mourning his death and instead enjoy my memories of him, as I have ever since.

It look my grandma a while longer for this to happen, if in fact it ever fully has, and for a long time she was quieter and more introverted, she had after all, been married to the man for almost fifty years. After a time, though, she began to head back out into the world. She started to meet regularly with the support group she now helps lead and found great comfort in the community of people experiencing similar emotional upheaval. Her strength was nurtured by these people as she, albeit through necessity, became stronger and more outgoing than I’ve ever personally seen her to be. As she moved further and further away from the life she’d enjoyed for almost half a century it wasn’t just with a heavy heart, but with new courage and verve to grow beyond her terrible loss, though never to forget him.

Where does this intersect with video games then? It doesn’t really, not any more. My original thoughts were going to be about the insatiable appetite we have for ‘new things’ and, of all games, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, before I veered off on this tenuously related tangent. I will attempt to finish with something that is relevant to both topics though, and hopefully get myself two pieces for the price of one and a half, as it were.
Everything ages and eventually slips into obscurity, though only if we let it happen. My grandma’s life has irrevocably changed with the passing of her husband, just as my dad’s moustache has irrevocably changed with the passing of time. They are both still fantastic things in their own right though, and both my grandma and father still treasure what they have. As things get older their value often increases dramatically, allowing us to not only reappraise them, but also place newer things within a more grounded context. Fifty years is a long time to be married. Twenty years is a long time to sport a moustache, regardless of its colour. As things age they become beautiful, valuable and sometimes, as with our memories of my grandad, and to a lesser extent 50 Cent BotS, timeless things to be treasured above all other trinkets.