Ernest "Mick" Johnston aka 'Gramps"

My Gramps passed away today. He was 92 and had a long hard fight but died peacefully with my Granma, my dear Uncle Danny and my cousin Kel at his side.

I got to say Goodbye in person just over ten days ago when we stopped by the nursing home to introduce him to great grandchild number 12 and number 13, Matilda and Emily pictured above. The room was full of cousins, grandchildren, great grandchildren, sons and daughters-in-law and Gramps was over-joyed to see everyone. I went from there to the airport to fly back to Ireland.

He had a long battle. As you may have read I rushed over to Australia just over 6 weeks ago to say goodbye but he rallied that time, and I was glad. This time when the end came he was calm and as prepared as a 92 year old body that fought in Tobruk and New Guinea in the Second World War could be.

He was also a lifelong Carlton Football Club supporter and appears on their website here after they signed a card for his 90th Birthday. I printed off a screenshot of that website and framed it for his 92nd. My Uncle Danny made sure it went up on the wall in his room in the nursing home.

He was a wonderful Grampa, and absolutely indulged all his grandchildren in a way that might have annoyed his sons. My favourite memory was being picked up and held on his hip while we rang the little bell that he had on the wall beside his beloved bar. He also had a little chinese lantern hanging above a doorway that we would "dingle dangle" before returning to the ground. He always smelled of a mixture of Old Spice, Muscat and the spicy meats and olives he ate every day from his little side table beside his Jason Recliner chair. And if his longevity is anything to go by I suggest you all go out and buy fortified wine, hot cabana and olives to consume every day at 11 am.

He was covered in colourful tattoos from his war years which he explained away to us by saying "too much bloody jungle juice" - my favourite was the Rat of Tobruk. For as long as I knew him, he had a section of hair that he grew a bit longer, in order to comb it across the front. A lot of men do that but my Gramps had no problem with letting us comb it out when we were playing hair-dressers and even letting us put rollers in. I have many many happy memories of visiting Gramps and Gramma's house and playing with my cousins all over their enormous garden and house. The smell of a roast in the oven, cauliflower cheese and there was "World of Sport" on the tv in the morning.

In recent years I always felt that Grampa "got me" and he was so encouraging about the Grace App and what I was trying to achieve. When I was home in February he asked me what Australia needed to do to make the App profitable enough for me to be able to come home. Because that was all he wanted, to have every one of his kids, grandkids and great grandkids on home soil.

He leaves behind my wonderful Granma who looked after him so well in his declining years. Granma did everything for Gramps. She is a continued inspiration to me and I am thinking of her tonight.
I am also grateful to my Uncle Danny and cousin Kel who did so much to make Grampa's last days more comfortable.

One of my Gramps' favourite exclamations was "Tremendous!"
I think he had a most Tremendous life, so please refill your glass with muscat and join me in a toast to my Tremendous Gramps.



Anonymous said…
Such great shared memories Lisa. Its with tears in my eyes I reflect on the life a generous wonderful man. Your words truly took me back 30 years. X
kelly said…
Hi Lisa,So many treasured memories,im crying so much just reading this he was a truly loving and caring grandpa who I will always remember.We were just talking the other day gramps and I about his peacock Jack and Jill and Malbourgh the Turtle I was telling him how much we loved going to his house every Sunday,It was like a kids amusement park,with the doorbells and chimes,and especially his nine hole golf course,he would mow out every Sunday.He would walk us through the bird cage I remember being so excited,to go in there.It was such a real treat.He was so happy to hear this it brought a real smile to his face.I love grandpa,and im happy hes not suffering any more,but will miss him terribly and I know he will be looking down being proud of each and every one of us. I will never forget him taking his last breaths kissing the love of his life goodbye until they meet again.Love you Grandpaxx
Lovely tribute to your gramps, glad he was in your life for so many years xx
K.Line said…
Well this is a tremendous way to remember and celebrate your grandfather - who sounds awesome, by the way. I'm so pleased you had the chance to see him in recent weeks.
Momx3 said…
So sorry to read your sad news Lisa. Glad you got some time with him before the end though, xxx
jazzygal said…
Lovely tribute to your 'tremendous' Gramps. How wonderful to have everyone around him, delighted you got to spend some time with him. thinking of you.... and your Gramma.

((xx)) Jazzy
Skye said…
Beautiful words, you really captured his spirit, even for someone like me who never knew him even one tiny bit.

My husband just made a movie about Damien Parer, who shot in Tobruk, and New Guinea. I wonder if your gramps ever made it into any of his footage.

Lots of love!

Lisamaree Dom said…
@Skye - that is brilliant! I will google Damien Parer and look forward to the premier of the film!
Thank you xx

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