On Saturday 6th January 2007, my granddad Dominic McDonnell passed away, after a mercifully brief battle with cancer.
On hearing the news, I jumped on a train home so I could be with the family. My grandmother and most of his children (including my mum) had congregated at his house in Woking: we spent the evening celebrating his life, reminiscing and sharing our favourite memories of him. It was very much the right thing to do.
A week and a half later, I headed back down south for the funeral. I’m not sure why, but I felt almost emotionally detached during the service. The church was absolutely packed with friends and family, many of whom I hadn’t seen for years. It wasn’t until we left the church and I had my arms around my younger sisters that I broke down, as we watched the hearse carry Granddad away. The cremation service the following day was lovely, with his children, Justin, Claire and Stephen all reading pieces about him.
It almost feels wrong to say it, but the parties we had after each service were great. It was good to catch up with all of the people I only ever see at the really big family events.
You may still be wondering why I’ve titled this piece “Boiled Eggs”. It’s because that’s my favourite memory. I don’t think I voiced it at the time.
When we were young, Alice & I would occasionally be dropped off at the grandparents for a weekend. Our mum & dad were usually off doing something silly like The National Rally on their classic bikes. Anyway, breakfast was always a highlight: Dominic had perfected the art of the soft-boiled egg. It came from the chickens they kept in the garden. It went in for four minutes. It never cracked prematurely. The soldiers were toasted to perfection. There’s probably an element of rose-tinted glasses, but that’s the way I remember it. Good times.
Obviously he was a lot more to me than just the man who taught me how to boil the perfect egg. It was my mother that pointed it out to me: I was probably a lot closer to him than I might have been if my father hadn’t died in my teenage years. Granddad was always a man I looked up to. He was so bright, talented and worldly wise, without ever being condescending.
I was looking through my collection and could only find one photo of him. I’ll have to get some more from the family. My little sister’s got a nice photo of the whole family from the day of the funeral.