This past week I have been sharing memories of my life as I approach my 50th birthday this weekend. Today I will share some memories of my Dad, who passed away on July 21st 2016, a year ago today.
July 21st 2016 and we are driving to Michigan for a weeks vacation with Leanne’s parents. We were up at 4am, dogs in back of car keeping Robert company and we were making good time. At approx 8am I got a call from my sister to tell me my Dad had taken a downward turn and we were in the last few days of his life and she would keep me up to date. Less than an hour later I got the call I was dreading but knew was coming, my Dad had passed away, with my Mam, sister and brother with him. I was lucky that Leanne and Robert were with me and it helped enormously to be with them at that time.
But let’s go back a good few years. My Dad was the the one that drove us to everything, football, scout trips, vacations and family day outs. My Mam didn’t start driving till we were teenagers so my memories are of us all being piled into the car, bags on the roof rack and me standing behind my dad, helping to navigate.
Of course there were times when we bent the rules on the roads, cramming a bunch of scouts and bags in car was definitely one of them, a driver’s the car at the time was just a VW Beetle.
Rather than me ramble about things we remember about my Dad I am going to borrow the Eulogy my sister, Anna, wrote for the funeral……
Bright Eyes and One Front Tooth
Bright Blue Eyes,
One Front Tooth,
Dark, dark hair that turned to white.
A man who put his family at the heart of his world. And we knew it, no doubt.
A man who was more ethical than ethics required.
A man who let us watch Westerns but told us that the Indians were not the bad guys and to not always believe what we saw in the movies or read in a book. Life was more complicated than that.
A man who showed is that integrity was to do the right thing, not so others could see, but because it would be the right thing to do.
Gur Cake, Madeira,
Knickerbocker Glories on First Holy Communion Days.
Taxi-ing to rugby, football, scouts, ballet.
Working up from a green dilapidated Volkswagen Beetle to a car with sun-roofs, not one but two.
Full of boldness and giddiness,
Sneaking a Big-Mac into hospital ‘coz he knows you won’t survive on toast and tea,
Getting ice-cream for you for breakfast ‘coz sure you’re on your holidays,
Building stone houses on the beach ‘coz sure they cost you nothing but time and love,
Fitting in a sneaky water fight while pretending to be taking the job of washing up after dinner seriously,
Snuggling under blankets with grandchildren and pretending to be asleep when Mam came in,
But then, at every major step of life, being there, listening, offering advice but never making you feel obliged to take it.
A man who like to keep to his routine but who would travel to unknown destinations, both in real life and metaphorically, with the love of his life. Always together, in heart and in soul.
A man, understated in emotion, who showed his love thru’ his actions, steadfastness and generosity.
And though his last breath has gone,
In our hearts,
In our minds,
In our souls.
All that and more is the man I was lucky to call Dad and my sister done a wonderful job in putting into words everything we we thought of a wonderful man.
Now as I get ready to celebrate my 50th birthday, today and over the weekend we will take time out to remember one of the most loyal, loving and friendly men you would ever meet, my Dad. Miss you every day Dad and I hope I am making you proud with how things have turned out. I will have a pint in your honour tonight and we will celebrate your life and the influence you had on us all.
RIP Dad, sleep well.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam