At the start of the year my last surviving grandparent, my grandfather, passed away. He and my grandmother lived only a 20 minute drive from my parents and so he was an ever present figure in my childhood. He was a kind and generous man who loved his family, qualities also evident in my father. He worked for London Underground for many years, and used to love nothing more than taking us on tube, or out to Heathrow to see the planes, or the London Transport museum. He was the one who taught me all the words to "I'm forever blowing bubbles", which I now sing to Eve in the bath. He also rowed for the same club as I did in London, and he was so proud of watching me slog up and down the Thames. He always told wonderful tales of rowing up to Barnes to be given a pint of beer from the bank before rowing back, and the dances where he first courted my grandmother. He lived on his own until the very end in the house in Fulham where my Dad grew up. I have always been grateful that he lived to meet Eve, although sadly only once, and he adored his great grandchildren.
When I was back in January, I spent some time with my parents at his house to go through some things I had stored there and to go through some old photos and possessions. Dad kindly said I could take anything I wanted as a memento, I chose a photo of myself, my sister, the children and granddad taken only last year at Eve's Christening. While I was sorting through things, Eve was pottering around the house with Mum and came across a wooden sculpture of a cat that my grandparents had. Loving cats as she does, she immediately picked it up and wouldn't be parted from it. This was her choice of memento.
When we flew back to HK, we accidentally left the cat back in London. Eve had tucked it up nice and warm under the duvet and none of us had noticed in the flurry of packing us and small toddler up. My parents have just come to visit us in HK and brought the model cat with them. Eve is beside herself with joy and won't be parted from it. When she woke up this morning the first thing she wanted was the cat, it is the only object allowed to sit in her new chair (even I am not afforded that gift), had to sit next to us while we had breakfast today and is stroked more gently than she ever does to our real cat. It would be far too easy to dismiss this as the excitement of a new toy, but this is unlike any toy Eve has had before. I can't help feeling a little of granddad is in the cat, looking after Eve, and she knows that.