We said goodbye to dad yesterday. As per his wishes, he was given a military styled funeral with the coffin draped in the Union flag and his medals and a silver ornamental bed plaque on the coffin.
We saw him off in some style; this below was what I said at his Eulogy, I was pleased with the response to it.
These last two years have been very tough for dad. He was left bereft after mum died and his grief could not be eased, no matter what was tried. Because dad’s decline was slow and hard, the challenge for today has been to step back from that experience and look again at his life over the longer term. So I have been looking through family albums and this triggered many happy memories.
Like dad carrying me on his shoulders at Cliftonville, or spending marvellous long days at Brighton’s Black Rock beach, learning to swim at Beckenham baths, or going to museums – although we always seemed to end up at either the Imperial War or National Army Museum.
As the pages of dad’s life turned so did family activities. So as Jim, Steve and I settled down with our own families we had a wonderful decade of extended family get togethers focused around Mum’s Christmas dinners and populated with a chorus of noise from dad’s grandchildren. I think dad had a special place in his heart for every single grandchild and would talk about each one of you at our weekly lunches.
I find it hard to talk about dad without reference to mum as they were so close. Of course dad did have his own interests. In the summer mum would work on the allotment while dad looked after the back garden, and in winter he sat for many a dark night researching, and then painting, his models of Grenadiers through the ages.
But dad’s very particular interest over his whole life was always money: making it, growing it and, above all, keeping it. He’d tell me about, when a young boy, breaking up old discarded fruit boxes from the market and selling bundles of wood as kindling; and when a young NCO abroad running a little unofficial foreign currency exchange operation that supplemented his salary. And of course there was the black book where he kept a record of every single item spent and received for over five decades.
So true to dad’s spirit I will summarise his life along the lines of a balance sheet.
Overall investment term – 88 years
Bad debts – 2 years
Social dividends – over 40 years with the Grenadier Guards, 7 with the Colours
Special bonus payment – 64 very happy years with mum
Return on investment – 3 children, 7 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren
So, whatever your relationship with dad: brother, son, daughter-in-law, grandchild or Regimental colleague, I am sure you will agree with me that, by anyone’s reckoning, the balance sheet suggests a great return on investment.