The biggest hugs…and the best

My Grandad, Bob Davis, passed away peacefully this afternoon in hospital at the Gold Coast.

At 92 he had lived a long and productive life. Born in Chinchilla, Grandad moved into Brisbane with his family where they settled in Moorooka. He was a young man and worked with his father on the family milk run. During World War 2 he was sent to Papua New Guinea with the signal corps. He was a member of the Cameron Highlanders regiment. It was only much later in life that he talked about this time and started attending ANZAC day services.

Bob married Verna, my Nana, and they eventually moved out to Sunnybank, living on McCullough Road where the Sunnybank Private Hospital now stands. It was all dirt roads then. They were almost in the country in those days of Brisbane. They had four sons: Russell, Warren, Robert and Graeme. Russell is my Dad. Grandad always had an extensive garden and could grow anything. When my Dad caught rheumatic fever when he was small, the doctor said the best thing was lots of vitamin C. Cue Grandad’s lifelong love of growing a small paw paw plantation wherever he lived. He worked hard driving milk trucks to pick up milk from farms and take it into the depot in the Valley. Together he and Verna had a thriving business. Eventually he retired from this work and became the grounds person at Runcorn Primary School until he eventually retired.

These are some of my favourite memories of Grandad

He loved to swim in the surf and the pool. If there was a body of water nearby, Grandad would be walking towards it for a swim.

I can remember when we went to Brisbane on holidays as children to visit Nana and Grandad, he would pop home from Runcorn every day for a quick swim and a salad before going back to work. And if it wasn’t swimming weather, he’d lie down on the lounge room floor with the doorstop (a brick!) for a pillow.

That’s correct. A brick. No pillows for Grandad. The brick that was covered with a little bit of padding was enough for him to rest his head on. My brother and I marvel at this to this day.

He was never too tired to play a game of pool. That pool table was the highlight of our childhood holidays to the house at Epsom Street in Sunnybank. In fact he played many, many games of pool.

And when he and Nana would jump in their retirement camper van and head up to Bundaberg, he would play endless rounds of 500 with my brother and I. He was probably bored out of his brain but he never showed it. I wonder how often he let us win.

Grandad loved to eat. That’s definitely a Davis trait I have inherited. Leftovers? Get out of the way! We all pounce on them much to my mother’s disgust.

He used to sprinkle sugar on his lettuce.

His standby dessert at lunchtime was a piece of white bread and jam in a bowl covered with milk. My brother and I would sit in awe (and just a little of disgust) as he assembled this “treat” and then ate it with a knife and fork.

He loved a cup of tea and a biscuit, preferably my Nana’s homemade biscuits. And you always sat at the dining table for morning and afternoon tea. There was none of this lounging about on the sofa palava for eating.

We were constantly fed fruit salad which was paw paw and banana. Grandad’s rule of thumb was there is no such thing as a piece of fruit that was too ripe to eat. Black banana? It’s alright on the inside! Look!

Together he and Verna spent years volunteering with BlueCare…entertaining the “old people” at their retirement village with games, putting on concerts, playing Mr and Mrs Claus for everyone at Christmas. Bob was well into his 80s when he was still doing this.

He didn’t drink alcohol or smoke.

I never heard him swear. Ever.

If , as children, we went for a walk up to the park with him in Bundaberg, he would tantalising jingle some change in his pocket and if my brother and I begged enough, we would get an ice cream from the corner shop. Of course now I realise that he was always going to buy us those paddle pops, but at that time it sure didn’t seem certain.

And if we were staying in Brisbane and we went for a walk from Epsom street to Kmart at Sunnybank he would let you press the walk button. That was exciting for us as small children because we didn’t have them in Bundaberg.

Grandad didn’t mind hard work. Want a swimming pool kids? I’ll dig it myself. Who wants to play tennis? I’ll build a court in the backyard of McCullough Road. Need a hand Russell building that extension on the house? Let me get up the ladder.

Grandad gardened. There was always a flourishing choko vine (at which my brother and I would turn up our noses), bananas, tomatoes by the bucketful, strawberries in season (my sister’s favourite), beans, corn and lettuce. Whatever he could throw in the ground. It all grew. It wasn’t just veges either. Before fire ants put a stop to him, he was endlessly potting and repotting cuttings to sell at fetes and stalls and give to grandchildren when they came to visit.

Best of all he gave the biggest hugs when you arrived to visit him.  You were never too old for a hug either. And they were always the biggest and the best.



2 Responses to “The biggest hugs…and the best”

  1. 2paw says:

    What lovely stories about your Grandad. There is a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. I have no grandparents left, though as a child I had great-grandparents. I’m so sorry to read that he died, but it sounds like he made a big impact on your life!!

  2. Wendy Davis says:

    Thank you. It’s only now that I’m older that I feel I really appreciate my Grandparents.

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