For Dad (who died suddenly aged 71)
Firstly I would like to thank you all for your support and flowers and cards for my Mum over the past 10, very difficult days. It has meant an awful lot to her to know that everyone is thinking of her at this time and a comfort to me knowing that she has everyone around her for the future.
I have written most of this through a veil of tears and a lump in my throat. I am still not sure that it will be me who will actually read it all out yet but I am going to do my best.
Stan and I discussed how hard it is for us to compose this and were given the advice that you are supposed to keep reading it and keep reading it and reading it and then it becomes easier to speak on the day. For the record it doesn’t.
John: Husband, grandad, son, friend, relative, golfer, bowler, colleague and sometimes a few other unmentionable names! But to me he was always just “Dad”, someone I took for granted would be around for a lot longer.
To sum up what he meant to me in a few short paragraphs is impossible; I am not even used to him being gone yet… I am not even sure what you are supposed to say at these times but these are just a few of my thoughts on my “Dad”.
Growing up with him as a father was not always easy, but so what! Most things worth having aren’t easy and all the hard lessons in life he taught me are the ones I still remember now and learnt from the most.
We could argue and complain all we liked, (well, actually we couldn’t as we weren’t allowed), but it was not just “his way or the highway”. It was “his way” or “his way” and even if he didn’t follow the same rules he was implementing that was no defence as he would just say “don’t do as I do, do as I say”. End of conversation. But I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Even playing games with him as a child, he was always fiercely competitive. It just wasn’t in his nature to let us win to be nice to us because we were younger and less experienced and his children. We would only ever be able to win on our own merit and I don’t think to this day I ever did beat him at ludo. Nor was I ever allowed to choose the yellow counters as they were always his colour. Not negotiable. In later years family card games would get quite heated and rowdy and were not for the fainthearted.
He was always very strict, unless you had four paws, but brutally fair and everything was black or white. There were no grey areas with Dad. He wasn’t perfect but he was honest, reliable, dependable and a man of strong principles and always had the courage of his convictions. He was traditional, conventional, careful, immensely private and family meant everything to him.
I would never, even up to the day he died, have wanted to have disappointed him or have his disapproval and he made me a much better person than I really am.
He was very particular about exactly how he liked everything. Tea had to be drunk out of a china cup, preferably with a saucer and NEVER spilt over into that saucer or you would have to start all over again. Growing up we always ate at a dinner table fully laid with a table cloth for every meal and I don’t think I have ever seen him drink out of a bottle or can. Scotch from a crystal tumbler was far more his style. Even when he came to visit me in Australia and we would go out on our boat I was worried about him drinking out of a plastic wineglass. But he did manage that!
His cars were always immaculate, which must have been quite a challenge when we were a young family. I am certain I never to this day had a drink or anything to eat in any of his cars.
We all knew he never really liked children, not until he met Chloe, then Jack and Molly. I remember an argument he used to have with Jean Dargue where she would tell him that when he had Grandchildren it would all change and he would be as smitten as most other Grandparents are and he always was adamant it wouldn’t change his mind a bit but I think that he would be happy to admit for once that he was well and truly wrong. Although he probably wouldn’t admit that Jean was right.
Chloe was his pride and joy from her very first words and Jack is now the last remaining male “Izzard” to carry on the family name. (Just don’t do that too soon Jack!) Molly isn’t here today but he would totally understand and not have wanted to upset her for the world. Mainly because when our Mol cries there is just no stopping her.
Anyone who knew him knew how much he loved animals and “Pip the pup” who is actually 10 and not a pup at all, has lost her best friend and is missing him terribly probably because her constant source of snacks has now been taken away.
On his very last day Mum forgot she was supposed to going out to a Zumba class and instead spent the day with him. They looked at old haunts and went out shopping for wallpaper for the hall. It was obviously fate, and meant to be and some kind of divine intervention. Not because they had unexpectedly spent the day together but as they actually agreed on new wallpaper for the hall!
He worked hard all his life to provide well for his family and I think to begin with he found retirement difficult to adjust to. His new found interest in household matters was often quite alarming for Mum and honestly, judging by the brochures for the Chesterfield sofas I found in his office all measured up for the living room she had a lucky escape from those.
Mum was reading his old school reports a few days ago for the first time and his art teacher said that “his colour skills were weak”. She only wished she had had this information earlier to be able to use as ammunition against his new found interest in interior design.
He wasn’t a man of sentimental words. I am not sure he ever told me he loved me, but I knew for sure he did. He would always hug me and say “be lucky”. That was his way of saying he loved me.
I didn’t always agree with him; we were far too alike in many ways but I always loved him and always will.
Poem for John
No farewell words were spoken
No time to say goodbye
You were gone before we knew it and only god knows why
My heart aches in sadness and secret tears flow
What it means to lose you, no-one else can know
A presence from our family has gone
A voice we loved is still
A place is vacant in our lives
That never can be filled
The blow was great
The shock severe
We never thought the end was near
And only those who have lost, can tell
The pain of heartache without farewell
Your memory is our keepsake
From which we will never part
God may have you in his keeping
But we still have you in our heart.