Posted by: Joan Spiller | July 21, 2015

RIP to a great man

I’m experiencing a confusing sense of happiness & extreme sadness as I type this post. My grandfather (Russell Spiller) died today, hence the feelings of sadness. But – as always happens anytime I think about Granddad – I can’t help but smile.

Now you get my confusion, perhaps..

As I gaze out my lounge window, the sun is setting on what has been a remarkable life.. Of a remarkable man. A friend today called him “a great man”, and I got to thinking about what makes a man great?

The sun is set RLS

Because I guess if I am honest I’ve always thought of Granddad as a great man (and I love that others maybe did too!)

Unsure I know the answer ..  all I can say is how it was for me.

You’d struggle to find a more generous, loving and tolerant man. Nothing pleased Granddad more than to be with family or, better yet – helping his family in some way, shape or form.

I have so many memories of time with him, most good (we’ll ignore the time he spanked my butt for stomping my foot and saying “I will not!” once, when I was a young kid.. )

Child abuse!!

How he loved chuckling and telling that story, horrid man 😉

“What can I do for you”.

A classic Russell statement. And unlike many people – he truly meant it. He would do anything for a loved one. Hell, he would do things for complete strangers if they needed his help. It was incredible.

He was incredible.

I think I’ve talked about it on here before, the fact that he had to walk you to the car, open the door, set you in your seat then go and stand on the kerb and monitor the traffic before signalling that yes, you may leave #5 (the ancestral home in Napier) safely.

Every. Single. Time.

“Kick her in the guts Trev”, he would cry .. and you’d be off.. tooting and waving, as he waved back, smiling ..

I love that my last memory of Granddad was (for all I was anxious!) watching him wave goodbye to me as I drove away. I was so worried that he’d come down the steps to see me, as he’d become quite frail in recent months.

There’s a saying “Old age isn’t for sissies” and boy is that so right. Russell was no sissy but oh how he hated the concept of old age.. there’s no doubt there.

A strong advocate of euthanasia, I well recall even as a young child being dragged aside to have a whispered conversation:

“I do NOT want to be remembered as an annoying, dribbling old fool. When I get to that stage you need to come and hold a pillow over my face and help me out.”

As if I could have ever done that but I suspect he knew that 😉

His “death” wishes were simple:

He wanted to die in the home in which he was born– and he did. I am thankful that happened and suspect it was no mean feat of coordination from people such as my Dad, and others who cared for him in his final months.

He also wanted to die before he became annoying.

I still recall (regularly) growling at him about that comment. Hell, if we applied that rationale most kids wouldn’t make it past 2 (months?) years of age. How it saddens me that elderly people somehow become a nuisance, where patience and unconditional love is most needed.

All that aside, I have experienced so many good times in my capacity as the “#1 granddaughter” and am thankful I have so many memories to cherish, when so many do not have the same ‘luck’ of a benevolent and loving grandparent.

Something he would say to me often was “give ‘em hell, girl”. Well Granddad, I plan to keep on doing just that and will ramp up my efforts, in your honour!

I love you, I miss you already. Thank you for being a great man, and an even more great grandfather ..

Give ‘em hell yourself!
give em hell

With so, so much sadness but love,
Your #1 Granddaughter

NB: It’s so fitting this is being finished at 5.59pm. Granddad loved nothing more than to watch the news at 6 and keep up with everything going on!



  1. […] day, someone has died (be it human or animal, I confess – they’re all painful, to me) my roof is leaking, my home a […]


  2. My heart goes out to you Joan. I am pleased I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Russell during his life here. He was one of a kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He sure was, and will be sorely missed. Thanks for the comment and emails x


  3. Beautifully written, I don’t know him or you but he came alive again with your words and that’s where he will live on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you .. he was the original live wire and such a fantastic granddad to have, appreciate your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So well written Joan. Great words about a great man. RIP

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kim .. having a minor meltdown here but kinda happy too .. lol


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