Our hearts are broken.
Where can we possibly begin?
This man, although small of stature, possessed the heart of a giant. He had an iron will, but always that feather-soft heart, and his kind and happy nature rippled outwards endlessly and touched everyone he met.
He spread goodwill wherever the day — or his van — took him and he greeted everyone, new friend and old, with a cheerful smile and caring interest — and always a joke and a laugh. A genuine man, he never forgot a name, face or a story. To all these people, he was a friend. To us, his lucky, lucky loved ones, he was and still is our everything.
He was filled to the brim with unconditional love for us and even as we, his children, grew up, he continued to love and care for us as if we were still his little kids he chased around and tickled and pulled silly faces for and protected and tried to slip ‘a few bob’ to, even when we didn’t need it and he didn’t really have it. Completely and utterly selfless. He just wouldn’t take no for an answer. Through our adulthood, he continued to soothe our wounds, those both on the surface and buried deep. He filled his time with loving us and never wavered in his pride of us, even when we made mistakes, even in those times when we may not have deserved it. He redefined the true meaning of what it is to be a father, and we feel indescribably rich because of this.
He loved our Mam, right up to this past Wednesday, in the same delighting and romantic way, as he did the day he first spotted her at a football match forty-four years ago. He said just this past week, that when she kissed him, it felt the same as it had when they had first met; that feeling just never wavered. Over and over, he made sure that she and everyone around her knew that she was his rock. And she was. And he was hers. A very amazing and fortunate twosome.
He loved to make us laugh with his funny asides, and even funnier two-step, and was always the bright moment in any shade of grey day. He never complained; something to aspire to. He turned every challenge into his almost patented ‘play it by ear’ mentality. Turning every negative into a positive. This is why today is so hard. If he were here, he would be the one cheering us up, making it alright and keeping us bolstered. That was our Da. He taught us the important things in life by example; manners, forethought and caring for others through his goodwill and positive, shining attitude and tenacious nature. Fiercely protective, we only ever really saw him angry or upset when one of us he loved was slighted or hurt in any way. He taught us to work hard and play fair. To treat people well, as we’d wish to be treated, and to never take anything for granted — to be gracious. To have a sense of humor — and never forget to laugh at ourselves. To be grateful. He also taught us to play cards, snooker and dominoes. He taught us well, but beat us at our own game every time; a life lesson in and of itself. We carry him within us and will take these things wherever we go and in whatever we do, never doubting it will help make us become better and better human beings each and every step of the way.
Always a Gent, always kind and generous, always loving us. If he were here today, he would be so, so happy and so grateful to see you all, and being the very humble man that he was, so surprised to discover that he was loved to such an extent by so many.
We are bereft… and at this exceedingly hard time, when the sadness for us is just too much to bear, and in those all too frequent and wrenchingly painful moments where his absence washes over us, drowning us in what feels like a shower of stones, somewhere inside we still recognize that these memories will bring us untold comfort and begin refilling this crippling emptiness in our hearts. The light that has disappeared from us will peek through the cracks and waves. It will take a different form, but it will buoy us and push us back up to the surface. And we’ll eventually be able to breathe — and even truly laugh again.
So we will remember him dancing and singing and joking and loving us. And we will never, ever forget the mischievous twinkle in those eyes, in that face of his, that we love so dearly. We truly wish everyone in the world was as lucky as we know we are.
Thank you so very, very much for being here with us, whether near or from far away, and for the kindnesses you’ve all shown. Take care and know you each held a very special place in that heart of his. After all, he had more than plenty of room in there for everyone.
October 10, 2009