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TRIBUTES FROM JOHN'S GRANDCHILDREN

"SOPHIE"
Poor Grandad

My poor Grandad died last night
I thought "Oh! what to do"
He took me with Grandma to lots of sights,
Even to an eagle zoo!

I feel really sad, but remember.....
It's the happy times I've got to think about
Like when he took me to pantomimes
Just to scream and shout.

Now, I can tell you,
And I don't need to count
To two or any number
To say "He's the best grandad about!"

Ten year-old Sophie wrote this poem on the morning she heard of her Grandad's death.

"CLAIRE"

My Grandad was the best Grandad in the world.
Everytime I would come to visit, the first person I would go to was my Grandad and I would give him a big hug.
From the age of six, I lived away from Wigan and my Grandad and I would make the best of seeing him when I was back. I always sat near him and I was always hugging him.
I thought it would be better when I moved back to England at the age of twelve, but Grandad was already in hospital then.
I visited him in hospital and when I was leaving he gave me my very last hug from him.
Now, every hug brings back a nice memory of my Grandad.
I will remember him forever.
Love Claire

Claire is now thirteen.


"CHLOE"
When we lived in Fallingbostel in Germany, Grandad came to visit us with Grandma.
One day, when Mum and Dad were at work, Grandad took us all to a farm that had horses and llamas.
We were all feeding the llamas and when we were going home, the llamas were following us up the lane, and Grandad had to chase them away and he was waving his arms about and shouting at them and he was very funny.
My Grandad used to tickle me and make me giggle.
I miss my Grandad.

Chloe is nine years old.


"KEVIN"
My Memories of Grandad
When I heard that my Grandad wasn't with us any more, the first thing I felt was nothing. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that he wouldn't be around any more. That I would never hear him swear at another St. Helens player or laugh his head off at a bad joke he'd just told us. I'd never hear him say "See Kevin" again or go around and help him do something around the house or garden. I felt so sad and empty that I'd lost one of the best people I'd ever met.
Since then I've come to realize that I really haven't lost him at all. I hadn't seen my Grandad for just over three years, but my memories of him were just as vivid and just as good as when we lived just down the road from him. I'd often heard people say that when someone dies they never really leave and I think I understand that now, because every time I think about my Grandad , I remember happy times and I don't even think that he isn't here any more.
Families are strange things and although everyone in a family loves one another, there are always fights and bad words said that you later wish you could have back. Thinking back as far as can remember, I don't have one bad memory of Grandad, and that isn't sentimentality or anything, I just can't ever remember being mad at him for anything or not wanting to see him. I also can't ever remember a time he was nasty or grumpy with me. Of course he used to shout at me sometimes, but I always deserved it if he did.
I'll always remember Grandad as the happy, smiling caring man who used to take us on weekend trips to exotic places like Blackpool or Southport or Jodrell Bank (Although we never did actually make it there!). It's a shame more people didn't know him because all of the people who did were very lucky and almost all would have been positively affected by his warm personality.
I've put together a small collection of my best memories for everyone to share. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy recalling them whenever I miss him.

The Amazing Donkey Jockey of Tenerife
When Gran and Grandad took us to Tenerife, it was the first time me and my brother had ever been on a plane. Grandad made sure we weren't scared and kept us busy the whole flight with bits of things to do. When we arrived we all got on the bus to the hotel and sweated in the incredible heat.
Once in the hotel we unpacked our things and claimed our beds and went about the usually tourist type activities.
I'll never forget my Grandad swearing at the taxi driver "You'll get us bloody killed!" as the taxi swerved in and out of traffic and actually did a U-turn in the middle of the street at one point!
Grandad insisted that me and Danny drank wine, because it was cheaper than pop which was just fine with us. One night, after a particularly pleasant introduction to Sangria we all wobbled off home with Grandad at the fore singing "San Miguel! San Miguel!" at the top of his lungs. Grandad quite liked San Miguel apparently!
The hilarity really started however when we went for the little excursions that the travel agents had arranged for us. We went to see the mountains where 'Planet of the Apes' was filmed and I think we went to a waterpark or something. We had an evening out at a cabaret and they were all fun. But not nearly as much fun as the Donkey Safari we went on. Basically, the donkeys in Tenerife were being very badly mistreated at the time (and probably still are), and there was a sanctuary high in the hills where a bunch of people looked after them and made sure they weren't abused. To pay for the sanctuary, the people running it offered Donkey Treks in the mountains. So off we went. We all got partnered up with our donkeys and Grandad's was called Rhumba. We all mounted, some more successfully than others, and set off into the beautiful mountains. The animals would walk very close to the edges of the narrow windy roads and although the fellow in charge would occasionally remind us that they wouldn't deliberately walk off the edge, Grandad would still peer down nervously from time to time and mutter under his breath.
About half way up the mountain, Grandad's donkey must have decided that it didn't want to stay with the group any more and took off, with Grandad, into the bushes. My everlasting memory is of Grandad furiously kicking and screaming "Rhumba! Rhumba!" at the top of his lungs in the vain attempt to stop this mad donkey. He was quite unsuccessful, much to the amusement of the rest of the group. After the second or third time this happened I heard him cursing at the poor donkey under his breath. Funny. Once we got back to the 'ranch' we were fed. This being a mock western type of atmosphere we were, much to Grans dread I'm sure, given a healthy plate full of beans. Grandad wasted no time in reminding everyone what it was that beans did to the digestive system and the rest of the evening was spent getting blamed for the repeated noisy outbursts that came from Grandad's general direction (Pity Dieter, his dog, wasn't there to cop the blame!).

The cement mixer
Now, most people in our family know about this, but it is still as hilarious today as it was when it happened, so I'm going to remind you of it if you know about it and make you laugh if you don't.
Grandad had some work to do in the yard that required the use of a cement mixer. So he bought one from somewhere. Once he was finished with it he obviously saw no reason to keep it, so he took out an ad on the telly. The ad read as follows.
Cement mixer.
£75
Not used a lot
Classic

"27-0"
I think that this was quite possibly the happiest day in my Grandad's life.
Me, Danny and Mum all went round to Gran and Grandad's house to watch the challenge cup final between Wigan and St. Helens. Big occasion. The fiercest rivalry in rugby league. Wigan had only played St. Helens twice in the cup final before, and had lost both times. St. Helens had flown in two big name Australians to help them beat Wigan and had even made one of them captain. Grandad reckoned both of them were "crap anyway".
So we all donned our Wigan gear and sat in the front room nervously waiting the kick-off. Back then you didn't have Stevo blathering on or Eddie Hemmings talking absolute crap!
St. Helens kicked off I think, and within the first 5 minutes Kevin Iro got the ball about 35 yards out and scored in the corner. Grandad leaped from his seat and was shouting and cheering at the telly. Or more pointedly at Alex Murphy, the St. Helens coach. Wigan's defense held everything that Saints threw at them and when the bloodbath was over I swear I saw a tear in Grandads eye :)
He was happy for weeks after that and would often sing the score to himself to a little tune he made up!
To his great amusement Alex Murphy transfer-listed the entire team with one exception. The exception later saw sense and signed for Wigan.
Grandad, Kev, Aunty Sue, Mum, Dan and Grandma
Grandad took us to see the Wigan-Hull classic final too, and that was loads of fun - him laughing at the Hull supporters and making fun of them but then offering them a drink anyway.

Grandad's Shed
This was a place of wonder and mystery for me and my brother growing up. Grandad seemed to have the entire universe crammed into the little shed attached to the house. Actually, so much stuff that he later had to build another shed and promptly filled that one too! In his shed Grandad kept tools and bits of wood and millions of screws and nails and garden equipment. I'm sure I saw Lord Lucan in there once, hiding in the corner.
The most sacred treasure that the shed held however was an old rubber gas-mask that hung from one of the rusty nails hammered crooked into the bit of wood on the wall. If we were good and asked really nice he'd let me and Danny play with it sometimes when we went to visit and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

Unidentified Floating Objects

This is where my memory fails me as I can't remember wether this incident took place in Blackpool or Southport. Wherever it took place is was bloody hilarious anyway.
Me and Dan had wandered off down the beach a way (and this is why I'm pretty sure it was Blackpool), and Gran and Grandad were stood watching us, to make sure nothing happened to us. Me and Dan got to the water and looked into the sea. It didn't seem quite as blue and sparkly as it really should have been and one of us must have shouted something back to Grandad about the water not being clean. In the middle of summer on a packed beach Grandad decided to inform us and the whole of Blackpool "Be careful Kevin, Danny - It could be sh*t." Gran was horrified and told him to keep his voice down to which he replied (still in his bellowing voice) "Well, it could be, it could be sh*t"
Me and Dan laughed so hard, I think that was the first time I'd ever heard Grandad swear and at that age it was the funniest thing in the world.

The New Shed
This is just a short one and is probably only funny to me. When Grandad bought his new shed and put it up in the back of the garden, it needed to be varnished. I think I was in the Army at this point and was home on leave. So, Mum tells me that Grandad wants me to help him varnish this shed, so off I trot down to see him.
The famous words "See Kevin" are uttered and I am made accomplice. It was really hot outside and after about 5, 10 minutes of varnishing, Grandad has a sit down 'for a quick rest'. When Gran came out half an hour later I was up to my armpits in varnish and Grandad was directing operations from his seat on the lawn. Gran said "Johnny, I thought he was supposed to be helping you not doing it all". "I am helping Bid, I'm supervising" was his reply.

Footnote
For all those who knew and loved him, just remember, as long as we keep memories like these with us, he'll always be able to make us laugh, and I'm sure that he would like that.
He was the best Grandad a kid could have wanted and as I grew up I realized that he was a good man and a very good friend.
I will always miss him and will always love him.


"DANNY"
This has taken me a long time to do. Granddad died over a year ago and I can only just bring myself to write about him. Everything that was going through my head I wanted to keep private - my way of dealing with it, and it was this that stopped me from bearing my soul on the web page. I am sure he would understand, I am more like him than most people know.
What can I say about Granddad? He was without doubt the funniest man on the planet (when he was on it!). I can honestly say that for 99% of that man's life he was grinning. He had the best grin I have ever seen, and utilised it to the full; I imagine he got away with murder as a kid! He had time for just about anybody, and this was proven at his funeral. There must have been at least 300 people there, a tribute to the man.
He did so much for me, and I loved him dearly. From his white-balling me into 'The Buffs', his guidance through said events (and not greasing the pig too much!). To his words of wisdom on Dolly Parton's chest, and the fact that I should get myself a woman like that 'cos they're a rarity, so long as they can cook. (True words!).
The shock finally sunk in that Granddad was gone when I saw his coffin. It must be the worst thing in the world to be carried out of the house that you have lived in for the best part of your life in a box that leaves no room to move. Yet as I was carrying him out, crying like a child, there was no mistaking the feeling that the guy was grinning at all the idiots selfishly feeling the unfairness of his departure. And that's when it struck me; what was I crying for? He had been uncomfortable in the last year or so of his life, frustrated by a withering body that was so full of life in it's youth. I was crying because I would miss him. I was selfish. He would no doubt be having the time of his life, and although I have never really believed in heaven, I do know that he would be somewhere, reorganising the rugby events, and chest prodding the Governor with a 'See God!' thrown in for good measure.
I still miss him terribly, but am happy in the fact that I had the honour to know him, and to be under his wing as a part of the Anders family. Fear not thou barrel-chested stocky lot, there's a guy up there on our side telling the man with the scythe what it's all about…..
'See Death'


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