27 June, 1928 – 17 January, 2011
My Gramps passed away last week and today I am in the UK attending his funeral.Â Below is a copy of the tribute speech I am making at the funeral:
“To tell you the truth I had a hard time putting all Grampsâ€™ good traits into writing. No matter how hard I try, I can never do justice to what a source of love and support he was, and such an inspiration for all of us. I know we are all grieving today for we all lost a great man.
He was a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather and great grandfather.Â A friend to all of us. Iâ€™m sure each and every one of you here today has something to share on how he touched your life.Â I would like to share with you some of the special memories I have of Gramps.
Gramps was a very easy going man.Â He was happy with life, with himself and with his family. He was happy to fit in with whatever you wanted to do.Â He never moaned. He was liked by everyone.Â His solid, consistent presence was a calming influence on those around him. Gramps never had a bad word to say about anyone. He would offer an unbiased listening ear whenever you needed it.Â He was a man of few words. But when he did offer his opinion or advice, you listened because it was important.
For those that didnâ€™t really know Gramps, you might mistake him for being an average guy.Â Friendly, likeable, easy going.Â For those of us who knew him well, we know he was anything but ordinary.Â He was extraordinary.
Gramps defined himself by loving his family. He literally was our rock. He was a stable source of love and support for my family when we were going through tumultuous times. Gramps loved my Nan more than anything.Â He always put her first. In December, they celebrated their Diamond anniversary: 60 years of marriage. This is an exceptional accomplishment â€“ not just 60 years of togetherness, but seeing the look of devotion and love in his eyes when he looked at her.Â I took some photos of Nan and Gramps in the summer. They are sitting on a bench, holding each otherâ€™s hands and looking into each otherâ€™s eyes. The amount of love that was shared cannot really be explained.
Gramps was a role model. He showed me the important qualities to find in a mate.Â I didnâ€™t realize it at the time, but I now see that I married a man that has all of the positive qualities that he had. I know my brother Sam thought of Gramps as his hero. That was why he chose Gramps to be the best man at his wedding.
I have many special memories of Gramps and have much consolation in the good feelings they give me.Â Gramps had such a mischievous sense of humor. He always had some kind of jokey comment or phrase or rhyme to say about most situations.Â I loved his playful nature. As we all know, Gramps was quite a hairy man.Â I fondly remember this one time that Sam and I used his hairy chest as a dartboard for shooting those little plastic golf balls that had Velcro strips around.Â We all had great fun that day.
Another time, I remember one Christmas we were sitting around the dining table after Christmas dinner, getting ready to play cards. We had some nibbles on the table, peanuts and crisps and so on.Â And when my mum wasnâ€™t looking, Iâ€™d throw a peanut at him. Heâ€™d throw one back at me and then get in trouble when my mum told him off for throwing food.Â So, I kept throwing peanuts every now and then and he didnâ€™t throw back.Â Until he picked up the whole bowl and tipped it over my face.Â I was wearing glasses then and the peanuts just filled up behind the lenses.Â It was an important lesson.Â Donâ€™t mess with the master.
I have many memories of Gramps sitting in his chair by the fish tanks. Heâ€™d tell me all about all the fish he kept, their proper biological names and how he looked after them. He taught me how to play cards.Â Many evenings when I was younger, myself, Nan and Gramps would pull a small table over by his chair and weâ€™d play late into the night. Many times I have caught myself saying the same things as he taught meâ€¦ â€œif youâ€™re in a card school my dear, you donâ€™t touch the cards until theyâ€™ve all been dealtâ€.
Gramps really loved his music.Â Weâ€™d listen to it together, and heâ€™d be sitting in his chair tapping his fingers on the stool. If he was listening to the radio and something came on he didnâ€™t like â€“ heâ€™d screw up his face and make some comment about how they didnâ€™t make music like they did in the old days.Â It is no coincidence that my iPod is filled with many of the same songs we used to listen to, and I have all my music organized into neat, alphabetical folders, just like Gramps had all his music ordered.
Now he is no longer sitting in his chair. Â There is an empty space.Â Itâ€™s a very large void, not so much because his physical presence is now gone, but more because our relationship with him was something that filled us all with the sense that we were someone special to him – as he was special to us. And that space can never be filled by another person.
I was honored when Nan asked me to say a few good words about Gramps.Â I have just scratched the surface of his great qualities and the memories I shared with Gramps.Â But he and I shared a very special relationship based on silly jibes and insults.Â In fact, he was the only person in the family that could insult me and I didnâ€™t get upset by it. It was always done in a loving way. Weâ€™d poke each other in the arm or stick out our tongues.Â It was our way of saying we loved each other.Â So instead of a few good words, Iâ€™d like to end by saying this.
I love you big head, twit face. Youâ€™ll be dearly missed”.