Plymothian, Father, Grandfather and of course Green Army Fan. A man who devoted his life to his family; was always there in times of need. But most important, this man was my Grandad. I've never really put my feelings out there or written them down. Tuesday 9th November will mark the one year anniversary since he left us, and today I wanted to share my memories of him with you....
I had always had a good relationship with my Grandad. He was what I called an "aggigator" or what we would say now as aggravator! I remember I used to get so wound up with him as a toddler and I just remember him laughing at this poor little Granddaughter getting so annoyed! Growing up, my brother and I would stay with our Grandparents regularly, just being children and making mud pies in the garden. I remember I would often go into the garage and make what I had in my head to be this amazing playpark construction when in actual reality, I was just drilling nails into spare bits of wood! To this day, I still don't know how he trusted me with nails and screwdrivers!
He was married to my Grandma for 52 years. They met in Plymouth and rumours began to flurry that the new minister had twin daughters, my Grandma being one of them. I still chuckle to this day of his chat up line. After being away for six weeks due to being on a course, he had managed to find her working in Boots, to which he went up to her and said "Have you seen To Russia With Love?" to which she replied "No!" Obviously, with his sense of humour he replied "That's a pity, I have". They arranged to meet that night and watch the film. Unlucky for them as the cinema was sold out so a walk along Plymouth Hoe it was. Two children and six grandchildren later and the rest is history!
"Have you seen To Russia With Love?...that's a pity I have"
We had a happy childhood growing up with our Grandparents by our side. They would pick us up regularly from school when our parents were working or take us out on day trips. We had some great times; every Wednesday our Grandma would pick us up from school in her Renault Clio with a Fruit Shoot each and a packet of Hula Hoops. We would then go over to our grandparents for dinner as our mum had night school. A memorable highlight was the holidays we had. In December 2005 we went to Disneyland Paris to celebrate my Grandma's 60th birthday. I just remember sitting next to Grandad watching Buffalo Bill, one of the Disney shows. A few years later we holidayed to Andalucía in Spain. It was our first proper holiday with them flying on an aeroplane from Gatwick.
The day my heart broke was when he told my brother and I they would be moving away. And not just down the road. They would be moving five hours away just outside of Plymouth. Our happy Sussex days with them were now over.
Life changed and Easter holidays, half terms and Christmas Holidays turned into trips down to Devon to visit them in their new home. It felt like such a holiday. A house overlooking the beach with a swimming pool! They weren't properly moved in when we went, so it was a few nights on the camp beds and some good old family time just like we remembered. It got harder when we had to leave. We were in tears at the thought we would have to part again and not see them for many months. Life became a series of phone calls and video calls. Grandad was always very interested in our education and how well we were doing at school. He wanted to make sure we would always do well and wouldn't muck around - particularly for me he helped with French homework. I don't know if he knew that much but those annual holidays to Annecy must have come in handy!
Soon he became a very busy Grandad to five grandchildren. It was always a real treat going to see both our grandparents in Devon. The butterflies of excitement normally kicked in around Exeter knowing we had around an hour until we would finally see them after so many months. We always had a good time seeing him whether that was going to the cinema, going bowling or going out to explore a Cornish or Devonshire town for the day. A few years after my little brother, the sixth grandchild was born, I remember that on bank holiday in August someone had suggested to go to the beach on one of the hottest days that year had ever seen! Still, we went to Bigbury to the beach, and as we guessed, it was packed. It was a day of climbing over sweaty sunbathers, Dad kicking up because he hates sand (and clearly it got everywhere), and Grandad just being Grandad and keeping quiet just like he normally did. I don't doubt though he had some thoughts like "why did we come here on a day like today", but he was the peacekeeper!
We had some fabulous holidays such as driving down together to meet in Annecy in 2017. We started our leg from Sussex, driving to Dover, then catching the ferry to Calais. Grandad's journey consisted of driving to Plymouth terminal, getting the Plymouth to Roscoff ferry, and then we both drove our separate ways to meet in stunning Annecy. Annecy had become a regular holiday for my Grandparents and Dad when they were younger. Every year they would drive down without satnav (of course they weren't around at this point) and spent some time on the lake and enjoy the French mountains. I'm glad we decided to go to Annecy that year. I believe that was his last time going and I'm glad I got to share that with him.
Come 2019, I was looking to go to university. My two options were Nottingham Trent and Plymouth Marjon University. I wasn't 100% sure what to look for in a university so only went to view Plymouth. Grandad initially thought there was no way I would go to a university so far from home, but conveniently, only thirty minutes from him! Well, I was offered a place at Marjon and of course I accepted. I liked the idea of smaller classes and Grandad was thrilled that I was once again close to him. He was very invested in my university work. He regularly texted and asked what I was learning today and what I took from the lecture to asking if I had met BBC Spotlight presenter, Justin Leigh.
By the beginning of 2020, the Coronavirus Pandemic had appeared to be getting more serious. I, by this had just got into a new relationship with someone who I had met in my class at university (to whom we all know now as Lewis!) Soon, I had to quickly clear my university halls out and the only place I thought to go to was my Grandparents since they only lived in Wembury, a thirty minute drive. Well living there soon turned into five months. Grandad made me do all sort of odd jobs such as hoovering the swimming pool and we would take regularly drives over to the Moors and get a Willy's ice cream - I guess it was just something to do. By the end of the five months, this sort of cough had developed in Grandad - we weren't too sure what it was but we tried to carry on as normal.
It was clear by the end of the year that something was not quite right. I think at this point the most important thing is being there for each other. Cherish the memories and tell someone you love them. The last time I saw Grandad was Saturday 7th November 2020. He didn't say much, but he didn't need to. He knew he was so loved and had the love of my Grandma by his side. When I left, he held out his hand for me, squeezed it and looked at me. We both knew what this meant. In our way, that was his goodbye. Grandad passed away in the comfort of his home with Grandma by his side.
I still talk to him and say to him what I'm doing in the world of journalism. But it's him who inspires e everyday. Him who motivates me in doing well for my career and for my life. His memory and motivation lives on inside me and I am so proud to be a Sampson. I'll always cherish those five months of living with him during the first lockdown, going with him to watch Argyle and just having a laugh. I suppose everything happens for a reason, and for me this was a real blessing in disguise. We will never forget the man in beige!
Thank you to St Luke's who had nursed him in his home. His tribute page is still up if you would like to light a candle in his memory today, or even donate to the wonderful cause and support St. Luke's