Many people personally knew my grandfather – V.C.R.A.C Crabbe and many more knew of him – he was a father, an uncle, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a confidant, a teacher and a listening ear.
My grandfather and I had a close bond from very early in my life. During my early years, my mom and I relocated from my country of birth (Zimbabwe) and made a new home in Barbados. At this time, my grandfather was a Professor of Legislative Drafting at the University of the West Indies so we all lived in the same household. Not too long after my relocation, my father passed away in Zimbabwe and from that day onwards, my grandfather was more than just my grandfather.
My grandad and I shared many rituals together, the most memorable ones being our weekly Saturday morning routine. Every Saturday when I rose from my slumber, I’ll go into my grandfather’s room where he’ll give me my morning stretches, one of which he’ll turn my legs into some sort of pretzel and I’ll sit in silence for a few moments. Later in life, I realized that he was teaching me the ways of yoga. You see, my grandfather mastered yoga to the point where he taught Indians yoga and Hinduism in Uganda. But my younger self always wondered, what’s the purpose of this?!
After my stretches, we’d sit and watch the cartoon – ‘The Smurf’s’. On some occasions, he’ll also take me to piano lessons, and on other occasions, we’ll frequent his favourite beach in Barbados – Folkstone Beach.
My grandfather also passed on his love for custard (it’s really good with freshly baked vanilla/plain cake), marmalade jam, ginger biscuits and digestive biscuits to name a few. I didn’t acquire his love for chocolate in general but acquired his love for Toblerone more specifically.
To me, my grandfather was the king of having the last word – he was a joker. A single day wouldn’t pass if he didn’t ask:
How many chickens make a sandwich?
Where were you last night?
How did you sleep?
Very simply questions it would appear but the answers to these questions were anything but. I may respond,
But grandad chickens don’t have hands so they can’t make chicken sandwiches!
And he’ll reply,
then why are they called chicken sandwiches?!
On another occasion, my response would be different,
But grandad, chickens can’t make a chicken sandwich but maybe a quarter would be adequate enough.
And then he’ll say someone else and leaves me completely stumped.
This was his way of teaching us critical thinking and that sometimes, there is more than one answer to a question.
When my grandfather passed, I was in the hospital. Matter of fact, I arrived in Ghana 3 days prior and spent every day at the hospital by his bedside and when the news rapidly broke out of his passing one thing became very apparent to me. I had lost my grandfather, the person who has taught me many lessons, to love, to be humble, to see the good nature of people and so much more, but Ghana and the world lost a visionary and a public icon.
Today, I can look back on the many memories that myself and my grandfather have shared and be filled with happiness rather than sadness because I was fortunate enough to have lived with him and hence learnt a lot from him in my early years of which has moulded me to be the person I am today.
No one can possibly fill the shoes of “grandad” and no one can fill the shoes of the great V.C.R.A.C Crabbe. He would be missed but at least his memories and his words would continue to live on.
If you’re interested in reading more about V.C.R.A.C Crabbe, be sure to purchase the authorized biography – “Unfinished Journey: The Life and Times of VCRAC CRABBE” by Kwesi Amoak here!