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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Tribute

Not a day goes by where I don't think about my Dad, but recently it's been more frequent, more concentrated. Maybe because it's the holidays, so there's more head space from not concentrating on work, but more likely it's to do with the fact that I've had my first birthday with him not being around, coupled with big life changes coming up (my teacher training) and he's not around to gently and patiently talk me through things.

I was also reminded that some people who were not able to attend Dad's funeral would still like to be able to access the tribute that I wrote and read out (how I did that without dissolving into a puddle of tears is beyond me, but I'm so glad I got through it). So, I'm typing it up here. 

~*~
As I'm truly my father's daughter, I'm going to be splitting up my talk into three parts, in order to effectively show why my Dad was amazing. 

Firstly, he was truly a man of God. My family have received to the tune of nearly two hundred cards, or thereabouts, and almost all of them, whether the sender was a Christian or not, referred to Dad's faith. Dad was a rock; strong and sturdy and able to withstand most any storm because he had built his life on the true rock - that is to say, firm faith in God. He did have times of momentary complaints, particularly these last few months, but who wouldn't have in his condition? Yet even in those times he held to be true that God knew what He was doing, and at the end of the day, that was all dad needed. As a family we were able to cope with Dad being ill that much better because if Dad was at peace within himself, we could be as well.

Secondly, his personality showed him to be humorous, matter of fact, and a man of simple taste. Buying his birthday and Christmas presents was always a bit of a headache. Forget trying to buy for the man who has everything - try buying for the man who genuinely doesn't want anything. He was happy with a second-hand paperback - though we usually defied his wishes and got him new editions - notebooks in which to write his sermons, and a bag of jelly babies. While reading back through phone messages from him, it was funny and touching to read things like: "the smells of Nan's cooking are wafting up the stairs,", "Granddad's roast lamb today, sweetie, are you jealous?", or, most often, "just had some of Nan's homemade rice pudding. Cracking." One or two days before he passed, when Nan had changed his sheets, he looked at Nan and said, "This isn't Lenor." While it was terrible to see him in the condition he was, those three words broke the tension as we could still see Dad in there. Indeed regularly through his illness he made jokes about it, saying "if you can't have a laugh, what can you do?"

Thirdly Dad was a huge family man and, together with our wonderful mum, did everything he could to make sure us kids had a great upbringing. He always said he would do everything he could to make sure we'd never miss out on opportunities that came our way. From driving me to orchestra and steel pans gigs, to taking my siblings to work, football, friends' houses, or whatever else, to helping us the best he could with school without being pushy. Indeed he was a great believer in education, striving to achieve his very best and helping my siblings and me in whatever career path we chose. 

I used to take my experiences with Dad for granted. It wasn't until I started working in a secondary school, encountering vulnerable and often fatherless children, that I realised how lucky Dave, Matt, Esther and I were with regards to how much Dad loved and supported us. He was extremely proud of his children and family. My siblings and I have a video message from Dad which we recorded about a week before he passed. It's short but nonetheless precious. We were able to see Dad through to the very end. He passed into the Lord's presence while surrounded by his family in the comfort of his own bed. 

At this point I want to make it very clear how grateful the family is to the NHS for everything over the past few years. From the oncologists, doctors and nurses who oversaw Dad's treatments, to the district nurses and those from the hospice who went above and beyond, to the incredible staff at the Edward Jenner unit. In your hands Dad benefited from not only your knowledge but your care and compassion, which was so precious and valuable to him and to us. 

Thank you to everyone in Dad's life; to his friends and colleagues at Lakers, to this wonderful church family, and everyone else who knew and loved Dad. Thank you for your support and prayers throughout this difficult time.

We are devastated to no longer have Dad with us but we are so grateful for the time we had. We thank God and give glory to Him for watching over Dad and giving him the strength to carry on. We take immense comfort in knowing that Dad is in the presence of not just his God and Saviour, but other illustrious figures he looked forward to meeting; Moses, Paul, Elijah, Charles and John Wesley, and goodness knows who else.

We thank God that though this goodbye is difficult it is temporary, and we have a hope that cannot be shaken. One day we will meet Dad again, and we'll be in God's presence to boot. What a precious and sweet thought that is. 

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