A Tribute To My Biggest Fan

Losing someone I love has always been my biggest fear. I am extraordinarily lucky in that, up until two weeks ago, I’d never had to experience loss and grief in that way. But on Monday November 5th, I lost my grandpa, and this blog lost its biggest fan.

Grandpa was my champion, and not only did he read every single blog post I wrote, he sent them to his friends and called me after every single one to congratulate me. I imagined him reading them every time I wrote one, and it’s going to be too hard to stop that – so I won’t. I’ll keep imagining what he would say and how he would react every time I write, and that is just one of the ways I will remember him.

This is a blog about loving food, and Grandpa certainly did that. He also loved many other things, which was the theme of the speech I made at his memorial yesterday. I thought I would publish it here, because it encompasses everything I hope to achieve when writing for this blog: warmth, humour, a zest for life and yes, that word again, love.

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My grandpa was one of the most loving people I have ever known. The following is a list of just some of the things he loved:

He loved to laugh, and always had a new joke to tell me every time I saw him. As I got older the jokes got funnier, but I’m afraid most of the ones I can remember are not appropriate for a public forum such as this. He did have some that got a lot of use though – for example, every time we drove past a new construction site he liked to say “Melbourne will be a great city… when it’s finished!”

He loved technology, and fully embraced computers, kindles, smartphone, the internet and skype. When I went travelling, Grandpa gifted me with his old kindle, which was great. What I forgot to factor in was that he got an email whenever I purchased a new book… and after buying some light holiday reads I got a call from him: “Gillian Francesca Crosby! I’ve just had an email about two book purchases. How To Find A Husband and Some Like It Scottish. Is there something you’d like to tell us?”

He loved to meet new people and be the first person in the know with any hot gossip that might be going. Nana and I would leave him to roam the shopping centre while we did the grocery shopping and afterwards, up he would come zooming up on his scooter – he had to get one of those little flags so people had an advance warning, what with his go-karting history he was a bit of a menace on that thing – and he’d have new information about at least three people he’d run into, or just met. The worst thing Grandpa could ever say about a person, place or event was that it was “boring”. Being boring, in Grandpa’s eyes, was an unforgivable crime.

He loved food, especially Nana’s cooking and a hearty roast dinner. He could talk endlessly about the “perfect chip” and generously advised more than one less-than-delighted cafe owner about how they could improve theirs. I’ve never experienced genuine delight and gratitude quite like when I cooked a meal for my grandpa, or even just made him a cup of tea. I will never eat porridge or fish and chips without thinking of him, and the way he said “thank you darling” to Nana after every meal she ever prepared for him.

He loved cars, and recently when my brother was visiting he got quite excited telling stories about the amazing cars he’d once owned. Talking about one in particular, he said “it was so famous a magazine came to take a picture of it! Wait there, I’ll get it for you!” and he pulled out a centrefold spread from a magazine with a beautiful glossy picture of this car. He completely neglected to mention the very unclothed woman draped on the bonnet, and was honestly quite surprised when we burst out laughing. His response to that was: “Well, it was the seventies!”

I could talk about the things Grandpa loved for hours. He loved Sunday morning brunches and opera music and murder mysteries and the TV programme Pointless and Johnny Cash and chocolate digestive biscuits and anything to do with Scotland and crime novels and talking about Melbourne’s transport system (and how politicians are making a complete hash of it) and Old Spice cologne and berating all unshaven young men for looking “scruffy” and reminiscing on his Air Force days and good manners and Doris Day and video cameras and great big bear hugs.

But what Grandpa loved most in the world was his family. Us. And I know this because he told us, all the time, in person and on the phone and in emails and over Skype and in cards. There are pictures of us all over the house, and when we were looking for paperwork around the house last week we discovered he doesn’t seem to have thrown out a single card or letter from any of his family, ever. A nightmare for Nana when it comes to dusting, but just another of the visible signs of his very big heart. He was our champion, and would tell us how amazingly proud he was of us for everything from our school marks to getting our driver’s licenses to remembering to unload the dishwasher.

Calling Grandpa with a piece of good news was one of my favourite things to do, and there are no words to describe how much I’ll miss being able to do that. But I will never stop trying to live a life that he would be proud of, and I will never forget what he taught me about loving people wholly and unconditionally.

One final thing Grandpa absolutely loved was a good party, and to honour him today we should celebrate a life well-lived, and absolutely brimming to the top with love. We must laugh, and tell stories and jokes, and make sure today is a reflection of the brilliant, caring, warm and generous Keith John Anderson Smith. And for Grandpa’s sake, we must try hard to never, ever be boring.

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It’s no secret that this blog has been less-than-frequent, particularly of late. There have been times when I’ve thought I ought to give it up, that my chattering about food is just more unnecessary noise out there on the internet. But Grandpa disagreed wholeheartedly with this notion. So I’m not going to go completely quiet just yet. I hope to find more time for writing, and will certainly try harder than I have been. I’ll be back with many more recipes soon. And I will make sure none of the posts are ever boring – just for you, Grandpa.



  1. Baxter

    November 19, 2018 at 6:29 am

    NEVER give up Gillian. I agree with Keith. You are a breath of fresh air in this mundane world of pointless celebrities.
    Keith always gave me hope and for that I will never forget him. The world lost a champion when he left us.

    1. Gilly

      November 19, 2018 at 10:39 pm

      Thank you so much Baxter – this means the world!! <3

  2. Baxter Henderson

    November 19, 2018 at 7:36 am

    I tried to comment before Gilly and it appears to have not picked it up. Please NEVER consider stopping your blog. Occasionally is better than never at all. You are a breath of fresh air in a morass of mundane, in their own mind, celebrities.

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