Pa Robert and his hobbies

It was my second time at the house of Pa Robert since he passed away two years ago. His books had been cleared from the library and the maids had redesigned his bedroom for uncle Jeffrey and aunt Matilda.

Aberdeen has never been like home to me. I am more of a city girl. The busy streets of London constantly crowded with foreigners, carriages, motors and slums. That was home to me. Scotland was more of a quiet getaway for me and mama.

Uncle Jeff now ran Pa Roberts Yeast business while mama stayed home in London as my papa worked at the flour mill. We didn't have as much to live on as Uncle Jeff did but he made sure we never had a lack.


My grandpa Robert was a shrewd old man. The most hard-working chap I had ever known. My mama told me stories of how seriously he took his hobbies.

You see, my grandpa Robert was The Robert Davidson of Aberdeen. His hard work and love for his 'hobbies' were proven by the random objects you would find lurking around the house - from an old electrical toy train set to a talking teddy bear called Cubby, his collection of violins and expensive china.

Grandpa Robert had fallen in love with electricity and had spent most of his years experimenting with as many projects that came to mind.

The first time I met him, mama says I was only a toddler. She mentioned how terrified she was that he would make my dolls light up in the dark or burn the house down.

Grandpa Robert was a legend and an unsung hero of his time. Right now, staring at his photograph taken beside the battery controlled train he invented a long time ago, I can't help but stand 2-inches taller.

"What brings you up here smiling with such pride, my love", I start at hearing mama's voice coming from the door by the East wing. "You know you're not allowed to be here".

My mama had been grandpapa's pride until she went on and fell in love with whom he often spared no grief in calling a 'low life pauper'. My mama was beautiful, a blessed trait from grandmama's side of the family.

"Nothing mama, just admiring my old man is all". I look back at the image of the train and the train tracks while she comes to stands beside me, staring at the same photograph.

"You know, I came to the tracks with him that day", she said. I turned and looked into her eyes, she had a story to tell.

"What was he like mama? What was he really like?" I needed to know. I could feel his presence, so electrical, whenever I came here and it made no sense how a man I had known for 10 years was an empty table for me.

"He was a loveable man before he became an old goat", she scoffed. "That day at the train tracks, he held me by the hand and bent for a kiss just before he went over to take that old photograph with the governor. I told him I was so proud of him and I could tell he was pleased.

We got on the train right after the photograph was taken and it was a ride I will never forget. Everyone marvelled at what he had done. Unlike the steam engines of the time, his electrical train was as quiet as they come. It's a shame they had to put down his work for such a silly reason."

"Was he sad?" I asked, "was he sad when they put him down?"

She smiled and turned to leave when I heard her say "look around this home my love, does this seem like the home of a man who could be put down by anyone?" She began to walk down the stairs.

"Get done with your staring and come down to dinner, will you? Uncle Jeff's about to start with his singing again." She laughed and walked away.

I stared at his image for a few more minutes, touched his face, and walked down the flight of stairs to the dining hall. I heard Uncle Jeff singing a completely off-pitch version of his version of 'God saves the Queen'.

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