My grandad died recently and I was asked to share something at his funeral, which was only a week ago. It was a beautiful service, and a blessing for family to be able to come together in memory of him.
This is my tribute:
My memories of Grandad are simple.
I remember staying on the beach for far longer than most; Grandad sitting on his deck chair and falling asleep as we played, us occasionally burying his shoes in sand, and us all charging up the beach when the ice cream van came by.
I remember Grandad driving us home and putting up with the constant questions about exactly how long it would be before we arrived.
I remember playing chess, or more accurately watching Rob try and mainly fail to win at chess, and talking between themselves for hours about technique.
I remember attempting to hide the mess I’d made by trying to help prune his beautiful roses, pick green beans, and feed the fish, and him showing me what I should be doing with patience.
I remember Grandad rummaging in the shed for toys, balls, buckets and spades, string, kites, and tools to fix the things we’d clearly played with on our last visit.
I remember hide and seek, Grandad explaining how the sundial worked, and getting soaked with the hose in the summer water games.
I remember Buccaneer, and Monopoly, and card games, Squeak Piggy Squeak, and Birds Fly which I still don’t think I understand but he found hilarious!
I remember sitting by his feet by the fire, and Christmas hats on his head as he fell asleep after dinner.
I remember his dedication to friends at church, offering his time where he could for those less fortunate than himself.
I remember him waving goodbye to us until we’d turned the corner at the end of the road.
I remember him playing peekaboo with my daughters as babies, and sitting calmly at their baptisms.
I remember crosswords, and birds, and whistled or hummed tunes, and sunshine, and calm.
These are simple memories because he made them simple. He never seemed a man for drama, for bickering, for anything but light-hearted teasing, and mischievous giggles. He was known by everyone as kind, charming, funny, and so much smarter than most of us.
Over the years we have learnt little stories from his past that only back up images of the kind of man he was. Like how much he had the potential to get into trouble as a young man, and how he was handsome and charming enough to get away with it. Like how many people were fond of him because of the way he treated them with respect and care, and how much he made people laugh.
What is clear is that he lived a good life; and that phrase gets thrown around a lot, but that’s how I remember Grandad. He didn’t need much, and he looked after what he had: a large and friendly family, a beautiful and loving wife, two amazingly intelligent daughters, 6 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He lived a good life on purpose, he worked hard for it, and he was kind to everyone he met. John Harris, my Grandad will be remembered well.
I wanted to end on a kind of prayer I came across recently:
“We live our life, yet hardly know its nature, for from a mystery we come and to this mystery we return. The death of those close to our hearts grieves and humbles us. It reminds us that we all must die, like grass that […] grows so fresh in the morning, and in the evening fades and dies. So we end our years like a sigh.
How can we accept the reality of death? By remembering the goodness of our loved ones, and by shaping our lives after their example. For the memory of the righteous is truly a blessing, and an inspiration for all our days. May our lives be always worthy of their memory.”
(From the kaddish)