MY girlfriend’s granny very sadly passed away earlier this week. She was an incredible woman, making it to 92 years on this earth. It’s horrible to lose anyone under any circumstances but especially so with the current state of the world.

It’s got me thinking about my own grandparents and how remarkable they are. Grandparents are often your very first best pals. When you’re young, your parents take charge of all the stuff you take for granted, while your grandparents get to simply have a laugh with you and spoil you. A bond is created there when you’re too young to notice this dynamic, but you can feel the love – it’s magic.

I remember threatening my maw by saying I was going to “run away” when I was a wee guy, as a result of not being allowed a packet of football stickers. The destination I had in mind was just across the road to my granny and granda’s. I filled a single blue poly bag with about a dozen pairs of socks and headed for the front door, swearing to my maw that she’d never see me again.

“Well,” she said, eyeing up my choice of luggage. ‘Wit ye gonnae dae when ye need clean pants?”

“I’ll just clean the wans am wearing,” I said, bitterly.

“I think you should go and pack some more stuff and I’ll phone your granny and tell her you’re coming.”

“Fine,” I said, stomping back to my room. I added a single pair of pants to the bag. My maw took over and packed me an actual bag of sensible stuff. “Your granny says you can stay for two nights, if ye want.”

“I’m gonnae stay forever,” I said.

“Awrite then,” said my maw and walked me up to my granny’s. She knew what she was doing. She could read me like a book. After the first night, I phoned my maw and asked her if I could come home and that I was sorry after my granny had pointed out I was being selfish and spoiled by demanding a limitless supply of football stickers. My maw lulled me into thinking I was in the right so my granny could deliver a hammer blow of a lesson in how to not be a wee tadger. I remember that I imagined my maw sitting alone in our flat, with no electricity, heating or food while I sat on a throne of Panini stickers. I felt suitably terrible.

Growing up without my da in my life meant that my granda was who I looked to as a sort of positive male role model. We’d “go walkabout” when I was younger which meant going for a wander around our scheme, looking to see if we could find anything cool.

He’d tell me stories of his time in the Territorial Army which sounded like the biggest laugh you could ever have. Twenty odd guys going camping for the weekend, kidding on they were soldiers and getting steaming. It was my dream to do that one day.

He’d take me camping sometimes. I’d have a list of all the things I wanted to do: fishing, climb a mountain, see a big stag, etc, but really I was just looking forward to hanging about with my granda. He’d rustle up something for dinner on a wee stove, get himself a can of lager and hand me a can of coke and we’d say cheers as the midges ate us alive.

One time, we went with a new, slightly more complicated tent. “There’s a bit of a gap between the walls and the ground sheet,” he said as we got ready for bed. “But it’ll be fine, it disnae look as if it’s gonnae rain anyway.” The next morning I unzipped the flap that separated our rooms to find that it had in fact rained during the night and all our stuff was floating in a couple of inches of water in the central compartment of the tent. My granda looked deflated as he emerged from his room. “Aw naw,” he said, then added: “At least we’ve got a funny story.” I laughed, watching a packet of bacon drift between us, like a wee life raft.

I feel like we underestimate the impact our grandparents have on us, they’re often the ones who really teach us right from wrong, how to carry yourself and how to just be a decent person in general. We take them for granted as well, I know I certainly take mine for granted.

If, like me, you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents in your life, you should give them a phone and have a blether with them. If not, then have a wee dram, put on the music they liked the best and remember all the good times you had with them.