Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Strawberry Ice Cream

At 05:10am, 26th of July 2016 – my grandfather Geoff 'Gromps' Walden passed away.

My grandfather is Strawberry Ice Cream. His dessert of choice. His memory.

For a couple of years his health has been on  my mind as he dipped in and out of hospital with various ailments—all the visits making me weaker and undoubtedly him weaker, but he stuck on in there until Tuesday morning, when he passed away surrounded by his family. 85 years & 4 days old.

My grandfather is Strawberry Ice Cream. Everyone knows this flavour and I've never met anyone that doesn't like it—it's humble in it's existence but solid in it's standing. The flavour isn't over the top and despite being kept in the freezer; it's surprisingly warming. It's impossible to be sad with a bowl of it, sat in front of you, looking up at you so pleasantly. My grandfather wasn't just any Strawberry flavoured frozen cream dessert, oh no. He was the Carte D'or kind that you'd always have in the house, but only gave to the people you really really liked.

As a designer, I know you could package Ice Cream however you like. You could emboss the tub, drown it in colour and make it any exciting shape, but why? My grandfather didn't come in a tub, what you saw was what you got. He didn't need to be packaged to be loved, he was just himself and that was more than we could have ever asked for. Perhaps when he started to deteriorate, an outer packaging to hold him together would have been helpful, but he exists without superficiality and that's the man he was.

Just like the strawberry flavour he was straight to the point; you'd ask "You ordered a Chicken Basket? What's that then?" – and after a short pause – "Chicken in a basket" he'd reply. He never climbed Everest and he never made it to the Moon but what does that matter? He taught me how to tie my shoe laces with a wooden clog he has crafted in his shed just that afternoon. Eat your heart out Armstrong.

Being a Designer, I look at everything in my world from that perspective, and rightfully so because however you look at it—everything on this earth has been designed. I can design a logo, I can design a website and I can design a typeface but I couldn't design my life. I got given this man by chance, by conception and without knowing it, the one bit of design that I couldn't influence is likely one of the most important design choices I ever encountered.

My grandfather is Strawberry Ice Cream, he is one of billions of flavours worldwide, but he changed my world, he made me happy and he'll never leave me for as long as I live. He can go on offer, he can melt but he'll never cease to exist. That is the beauty of his existence. I love you Gromps.


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