I’ve been told many times that I was his favourite. I don’t know what it was I did to deserve such a title. I can’t help but wonder if I still do it, this thing that made me so special. If he could see me now would I still be his favourite? Am I the person he thought I was? People say dad was always his favourite too. I can understand that though, they were so alike.

Grandad or “Johnny” as dad would call him, came over every single day without fail. On the weekends we would always be out on the boat fishing in silence or singing a Pippi Longstocking song.

“Life is a breeze, we do it for fun. No apologies, to anyone.”

Then I would catch all the fish and dad would call me a tin-arse. Grandad would sit in his chair smiling, his eyes twinkling like the sea surrounding us.

If we weren’t fishing we went bush. This involved rafting over the Mohaka river, hopping into a modified jeep that dad had cut the top off and replaced it with bull-bars so we could sit up top and shoot at all angles. We would burn up the gravel roads that my dad had constructed, up to a wooden shack, whooping and squealing as the speed and corners made our faces sting. Once we got there we would drop off our bags, have a cup of tea, and then head out either on the motorcycles or if the horses were around we might saddle up or ride bareback. We’d only take them so far though because silence is key when hunting deer. We would creep through the bush careful to avoid blackberries and gorse. Grandad was always there, keeping up with us step for step.

In retrospect it’s kind of amazing, we would walk up and down mountains only stopping for a snack or if we spotted a deer or more often than not, thought we’d spotted one. He was an old man but he was always so strong.

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