It was my Dad’s funeral this afternoon.
It was a short service at a local crematorium, with only 18 attendees allowed, all of us sitting in socially distanced seats with our masks on. Surreal.
That aside it was, as my Uncle Nigel said, a dignified service. The Rev Ian Miller led the way, and I said a few words myself, words which were easier to write and deliver, than I thought.
My Dad was well liked and we were all very moved to see old neighbours waiting to say goodbye as we left the funeral parlour, members of the Rotary and Burns clubs flanking the road into the Crematorium, and so many people waiting outside as he was piped in ‘up the hill’ by a well kent local figure (thanks again Colin).
It was a sad day, but a wonderful celebration of the amazing life my Dad lived. He touched the lives of so many, and was proof that being a good guy is something to aspire to.
Here’s what I said (and no, I don’t know how I made it through it without crying):
My father was 5’4, on a good day. Being slightly taller than him I occasionally used to tease him about this, yet he always gave the same good natured reply; Good things come in small packages.
Good is a word I’ve seen used to describe my Dad frequently over the last few days as the messages of condolence and support have flooded in. As well as family and friends, we were all heartened to read the hundreds of responses from ex-pupils as well, all of which used a variety of wonderful adjectives; good, thoughtful, kind, considerate, lovely, generous, best, he even got a ‘legend’, a word I know my Dad would’ve baulked at.
I have many more words I could add to that list but, if I had to pick only one it would be “busy”.
Dad always had something on the go; between the numerous home improvements and landscaping of the garden in Barloan Crescent (under Mums close supervision of course), the races to train for, the choirs to sing in, performances to rehearse, poems to write and learn, any number of helpful projects on the computer and, of course, that was all on top of the usual duties involved with being a devoted husband, and a caring and supportive father. He was always busy, but never too busy for us.
When I think of Dad I guess I’ll always come back to that phrase of his, good things come in small packages.
Those thoughts were running through my head as I drove to Dumbarton last week; on the radio they started discussing the Robert Burns poem, Tae a Moose. In it, Burns looks on with envy at the mouse as it only lives in the present, it’s us humans that are cursed with the ability to dwell on the past and fear the future:
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
I don’t fear a future without Dad but it makes me sad to think ahead to the life events he will miss; the beginning of my own family and the continuing bloom of my sisters, not to mention all the missed coffee, cake and ice cream trips with Mum.
Instead I’ll look to the past, not to dwell but to remember the happy times, for there are many to choose from.
Dad was always laidback about life – so laidback he was horizontal – and he was always ready with a silly comment or a smile, always there to support the family however best he could.
Our family home was one full of love, joy, laughter, and a never ending stash of biscuits and sweets. Those, and many more, are the memories I will look back on, the past that I’ll carry with me fondly, as should we all.
My Dad was no mouse and, whilst he may only have been 5’4 (on a good day), I know I’ll always look up to him, and aspire to be, like he was, a good man.
A sad day, but I know Dad wouldn’t want us to dwell. He helped his family find happiness and we will strive to continue to live our lives in that same kind-hearted way he exemplified.