Andrew Smith: 'My weans keep my mum and dad alive for me'

I'M raising a young family just as my mum and dad did in the one way I utterly dreaded - as a parent without parents. It was the second anniversary of my dad's death last week and I took my little boy Corin, one as of last Wednesday, to the graveside.

As I stood there with him in my arms, I felt unbearable sadness that standing over dad's interred bones will be as close as my son ever is to his papa. And his gran, laid in the same plot 17 years ago.

I feel a profound sense of loss that my weans will never have any first-hand memories of those who made me and, in turn, helped make them. People encourage me to keep my folks alive for Corin and my four-year-old, Sylvie, but I know better than most that you can't really do that.

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I was six weeks old when my last grandparent passed away. And though my mum and dad spoke of their beloved parents constantly, these forebears are shadowy figures to me. It sounds heartless, but I recall as a nipper feeling glad I didn't have any grandparents because I couldn't be packed off anywhere on a Sunday and could laze in front of the telly all day.

I now don't recognise myself in that sentiment, thanks to my wife Sara's parents. With their granny and grandpa being central to their lives, I fully appreciate how much Corin and Sylvie are blessed and I was deprived. The amazing closeness between them and my weans uplifts me, when Sylvie becomes a jumping bean on hearing she is going to granny's house, or Corin wraps his arms around his grandpa.

Weans have a way of making the world seem magical and, while I can't keep my parents alive for them, they keep my mum and dad alive for me. When I am serenading them to sleep with hymns (Morrissey lyrics aren't necessarily appropriate) I think of my baby-whisperer pop. Or dishing out lumpy porridge, I remember how he could fill big china bowls with luscious stuff, precisely to the lip, and no more.

And so these reminders revitalise broken bonds. The other week I took Sylvie to the pictures - "no I want to go to the cinema!" - to see a corny family film. Apposite, since I'm fast becoming a corny family guy. It was marvellous, in part because I was catapulted back to visiting Hamilton Odeon in the 1970s with my mum.

It was as if she was sitting beside me with trembling lip when Sylvie weaved her hand between jacket and popcorn for me to hold. Mind you, my lip trembled enough for both of us. n