Losing My Father – The Eulogy
This post is part of a mini-series about losing my Dad to cancer earlier this year. I’ve briefly explained why I’m writing it here.
You always said “life’s not fair” and today more so than ever before I know you were right. It’s not fair that you’re gone, it’s not fair that we won’t see you again, speak to you again or hug you again.
It’s not fair that you had to suffer and it’s not fair that we had to watch, helplessly. You’re too young to be lying there, and I’m too young to be standing here.
But you were right about something else too – it will be ok. It will always hurt, we will always miss you, nothing will ever fill the void, but it will be ok.
It will be ok because you showed us how to be strong. You bore the physical, mental and emotional pain of the last few months without complaint and even on the darkest of days hid from us the great anger and anguish you must have felt. Even as you lost your mobility, your independence and ultimately your life, you never lost your humour, your dignity or your spirit.
You taught us not be afraid and to face the challenges life threw at us with a cool head and a warm heart. Although perhaps that’s not the best description of when you taught us to drive, or when you said the words I think you feared most, “you have control” when you were brave enough, or daft enough, to let me fly you.
Because let’s be honest, you had to be in control. You had to be prepared, and you had to be early. If you said we were leaving at seven, you’d be pacing by quarter to. We had to hold our knives and forks properly, never put our elbows on the table. The head on a pint of bitter had to be just the right height, the Marmite jar and the butter dish had to be at precisely the right angle on the breakfast table, you always had to sit in the same seat, you always had to have the bloody TV remote and you always, always had to have a plan.
But it was a plan that brought us closest – a plan that lasted more than a decade and took us to the same hotel, on the same bus, to the same pub, to the same chip shop and the same restaurant every time we went to Twickenham. And even though I was wounded when you declined to pay a measly thirty-six thousand pounds for four debentures at the home of rugby, those days will forever be my fondest memories of you.
You taught us that we were in control too – of our lives and our futures and that nothing would be handed to us on a plate. You showed us that the hardest work gave the greatest results, or at least that was your excuse for dragging us up mountains in Snowdonia.
You taught us honesty, loyalty, respect, determination and that regardless of what anyone else thought, when we looked ourselves in the eye we’d know the difference between right and wrong.
And you taught us that family is the most important thing in the world because you cared for yours above all else. Through thick and thin you and Mum were always parents together – always there, always supportive and always putting us first, for which we’ll be forever grateful.
You took Lindsey and Ailish into your heart from the beginning and loved them as though they were your own. But more than that you were a father figure and offered them the safety, the security, the care and concern that Dan and I have always depended upon.
You always said you weren’t interested in babies until they could walk and talk, but Evie, Mason, Sammy and Alicia soon changed all that. They captured your heart from the moment you met them. You loved to cuddle up and read them stories, and they were captivated by your every word. Never were you more content than the week we all had together in St David’s for your 60th birthday.
As my children grow up, I hope they’ll come to see me as I saw you: as a rock. As a foundation on which to build a life, a family, hopes and dreams. As someone who will always be there no matter how foolish the mistake or difficult the problem. Someone who will always believe in their ability to succeed, to do whatever they put their mind to and can find the right words to inspire them when they want to give up.
You were so many things to so many people. A husband, a brother, a father, a grandad, an uncle, a friend, a mentor, a Major, the Paymaster, bank manager, an MD, the boss, a flying buddy, the chairman, a photographer and to some even a hooker.
You were Big River, Vagabond Heart, the Sunshine on My Shoulders, Swing Low, the smell of old tan leather, wax jackets, Queen and Country, the university of life, fighting the system, Silk Cut, London Pride, cunning and devious, the great outdoors, stripy lawns, real ale, the 7 Ps and Landy.
But most of all you were ours, and we loved you as you loved us. We were proud of you as you were of us.
I don’t want this to be the end. I don’t want to say goodbye. But it is, and so I will because you taught me to accept the things I cannot change. I’ll always be grateful for everything you did, and all that you were. You’re at peace now but know that you will always live on through us.