This post is a tribute to my late Grandfather Tony Scoffield.
Last July my 86-year-old Grandfather lost his battle with dementia and prostate cancer and passed away peacefully in his home in the company of my Grandma and his daughter, my mum. It isn’t difficult for me to put into words what a wonderful gentleman my gramps was as he offers me so much material to work with. He loved languages and spoke French, Italian, German and Russian, he would have us cringing with laughter when we’d be in an Italian restaurant and he’d be trying to engage in lively conversation with what usually turned out to be a bewildered Romanian waiter.
Having worked in the fashion industry he was the snappiest of dressers and always looked the sophisticated part in a crisp pair of chino’s and sporting a panama hat even when gardening. He’d be the first to compliment you on a well put together outfit, a beautiful fabric or a new hairstyle but he didn’t agree with jeans with holes in, he wondered if I was going for the ‘hit by a car look’.
He was accepting of all people no matter their race or religion and took an honest interest in their culture and opinions. He kept in touch with friends across the globe via hand written letters and invited neighbours into his home to share stories over tea and dunking biscuits. Although, once in his dementia days my grandma came downstairs to find a complete stranger standing in the hallway whom he’d randomly dragged off the streets to play piano to. There was more than one confused person in the room that day.
He enjoyed the odd glass of french lager or a wee dram of whiskey but he rarely drank to get drunk. He didn’t need the alcohol to relax or become entertaining, these attributes came naturally to him and he had the most mischievous sense of humour, even right up until those final days. Here is my gramps’ response when asked by my grandma to clear the snow off the back garden –
I take great pride when my family tell me he would have loved my writing and that it is so similar to the style he adopted when writing for local magazines and newspapers. My mum and I were reminiscing about him the other day and we were describing what made him elicit such love from us, one of her reasons stuck in my head as I embark on raising my own children. She explained that it wasn’t expensive gifts she remembered, he didn’t spoil her with endless material goods, he was generous with his time and it was the memories of shared adventure, travelling to distant countries like Austria and Spain in his beloved Volvo’s that stuck so warmly in the heart.
I’ll always remember that my Gramps smelt exactly how Grandpa’s should, of fine cigars and mint humbugs, he was always pleased to see us and welcomed us with warm, sincere hugs. His smile always reached his eyes and you were guaranteed never to sit in silence, there was always a story to be told.
I’m grateful that he was able to meet my first born daughter and will cherish the memories of him bouncing her on his knee whilst perched at the piano singing “Ain’t she sweet” to her.
I want to thank my Gramps for teaching me to embrace diversity, encourage curiosity, seek adventure with my children, never be afraid to learn something new, always find humour and try to buy clothes without holes.