I didn't know Grandpa very well - my grandparents lived three hours away and he was always working. Nanna came to visit us and I loved her. The plan was that when Grandpa died, Nanna would come to the farm to live with us.
Then the sudden shock! Nanna had gone to hospital and had died unexpectedly during the operation!
It was Grandpa who moved to the farm for the remaining 10 years of his life.
Grandpa was a product of the Victorian era, born in 1881 - children were seen and not heard. He had fathered 12 children and his role was that of provider and disciplinarian; he was the king of his own castle.
Where did he fit in his new environment with a busy housewife daughter, non-stop working son in law and four grandchildren - an 18 month old baby, 5 yr old grand daugher, 13 year old grandson and a 19 year old granddaughter? A family who was expecting a loved Nanna and instead found themselves living with a relatively unknown grandfather.
Fortunately, my Dad was a very easy going man who didn't engage in a power struggle with Grandpa. They obviously worked out their positions in the household as they were very close when Grandpa passed away.
As the years went by I got to know and love Grandpa too.
He had his basic education and left his home in Talbot at 9 years of age to get employment as a boundary rider. He was an excellent horseman (he'd been in the 8th Lighthorse Brigade in WW I) and it was he who took over teaching me to ride my horse. None of this show riding style with Gramps though, proper bush riding style!
He also took over and enlarged the vegetable patch to over an acre. I learned to love flower gardening with Mum, but Grandpa was the king of the Veggies! I still remember him picking young carrots for me, washing them under the tap and telling me if I couldn't find any rabbits, I'd better eat them myself.
Every week when he went to Colac with Mum and Dad he bought my sister and I one Violet Crumble and a packet of Smarties - for years! Grandpa was very generous, he bought us a TV in 1957 and bought Mum a new washing machine. He was the Santa Claus for our little school concert every year. He was wonderfully warm and 'Ho Ho-ed' so well. I didn't realize he was Santa until I was 14 years old. Guy Fawkes night was wonderful as Grandpa made the best Guy's, with our help of course.
Every April, we would pick mushrooms in the paddocks with him for extra cash.
He always kept an eye on us around the farm (he'd take his glass eye out and put it on the table to assure us that he had his eye on us!)
It was useful for Mum and Dad to be able to have some time to visit friends, with Grandpa at home with us.
His handwriting was exquisite copper plate and he wrote to all of his children fortnightly.
But reading? Never! My Dad was an avid reader and encouraged us to be the same. Grandpa was appalled that I would walk the long drive way to collect the daily paper and would settle in to read it as a young child. The audacity! Before a man could read the paper first!
Of course, when my older brother went to Melbourne to study at University, Grandpa was horrified that a grown man was still at school. He used to tell my sister and I that our brains would explode if we kept reading all the time. Luckily, Dad over rode him in this matter.
Grandpa was a stickler for punctuality. He would be dressed in his suit and hat ready to go into town an hour before Mum and Dad were due to leave. He'd sit on the verandah checking every few minutes, muttering loudly. He never swore, neither did my Dad. But if Grandpa was really upset you could hear him exclaim 'Je---rusalem!'... That's as bad as it got.
Grandpa had a crook knee and he would rub liniment on it each night. Whew! I much preferred the smell of his pipe tobacco or the occasional cigar that he would get in a box for his birthday. I still have a small dutch wooden cigar box he gave me 60 years ago. The faint smell reminds me of him.
Grandpa would occasionally tell us stories of the first world war, but we often didn't want to hear. I wish we could have that time again.
Grandpa worked hard all through the Great Depression to keep his large family housed and fed. After the war he did not return to the country, but got a job as a fireman at the Sunshine Potteries, working there until he was 69 years old. He continued to work around the farm and, In the fresh country air, his lungs improved. He was nearly 80 when he passed suddenly in the diary. He had a horror of hospital after the war, so it was good that he wasn't hospitalised ever again.
A strong man who lived and loved through a number of very tough times in the world, a man who is still very fondly remembered as a big part of my early life.
I'm so glad I had the opportunity to get to know Grandpa Bunting.