For many of us, a grandfather has the title to our mother’s father or our father’s father. For me, Leonard Jeffrey Caccianiga was and will forever be my Grandpa.
On Tuesday last week, my Grandpa said his last goodbye as he closed his eyes on the world he had lived in and the legacy he would leave behind.
Rushing to his side, my grandmother knew he would be in a better place and at peace with the decisions he had made during his time on earth.
Hearing of his passing, my heart broke and I could feel the pain of every other family member who he had touched during his 92 years of life.
A farming man, Grandpa worked hard to support his family of seven, before retiring in 1990 after many hours spent milking the cows, mending fences and fixing farm machinery.
Never afraid to lend a helping hand, Grandpa helped his children — Brian, Kevin, my father Graeme, Wendy and Debbie — start their own families and was always ready to slap on a coat of paint or tow a trailer full of furniture.
But my favourite quality about Grandpa was his love of the grandchildren.
He always had something new to show us, a book ready to read and the patience of a saint.
A quiet observer, Grandpa spent time teaching us kids how to kick a football, build houses out of Duplo blocks and eventually the dos and don’ts of the farming world.
He spent hours keeping us entertained, giving our parents a well-earned break and when we lost interest, there was always time to play in the handmade sandpit, cubby or log swing.
His craftsmanship accommodated all 10 of us grandchildren, including when we moved into adulthood and started to make our own families.
Growing up in Benalla, and forming a love of animals, Grandpa brought over two handbuilt cages, one for the families’ pet rabbits and one for my first lot of pet chickens.
Both these cages were built to last throughout the generations and have been used numerous times over the years, including at the moment housing eight baby chickens.
Grandpa was just as patient when the great-grandchildren came along, outnumbering the grandchildren by three.
Watching Grandpa with the earlier great-grandchild, he had all the same tricks to entertain them as he had with the middle generation.
He taught them to warm their hands at a safe distance from the fireplace and showed enthusiasm when they told him their stories.
Now the 10 of us grandchildren and the great-grandchildren who are old enough to remember will guide the knowledge Grandpa taught us into the families future generations and keep his memory alive — an honour we will all happily take on.
Grandpa, I will light a candle in your memory at our wedding this year and we will dance together in your honour and the legacy you have created.
Forever in our hearts — Leonard Jeffrey Caccianiga.
Madeleine Caccianiga is a journalist at The News.