Earlier today we laid Grandpa’s body to rest.
For those of you who’ve read my previous posts, the last post I wrote was about Hannah’s Grandpa.
I truly believe that things happen for a reason.
I believe that I was meant to write that post and share it with Grandpa at that time.
Sadly, not long after, he fell at home and fractured his femur. He was admitted to hospital and five days later he died, surrounded by his family.
The previous day, he managed to muster the energy to play with Hannah and I’ll never forget that time.
Whilst he was dying, I was able to read it out to him one last time. It was probably the last thing he heard.
We are heartbroken.
But now we know he’s no longer suffering.
I was asked to read out what I’d written at the funeral, but I just couldn’t do it. Not that I didn’t want to…it was just that I wouldn’t have been able to stand in front of so many people and share my words without breaking down.
As a result, I took some parts of my previous post and added to it. Our wonderful Priest read it out on my behalf.
It was important that Hannah was present at the funeral; for me, for my family, and would certainly have been for Grandpa. Hannah was a star during the service. She threw some flowers into the grave and we sent a silver heart shaped balloon into the sky with a message just for Grandpa written on it.
I made this wreath to add to his coffin, just for Hannah.
As funerals go, it was perfect.
Many, many people came to pay their last respects.
It was a fitting tribute for an incredibly special man.
So, here’s what I wrote….
It’s an honor to be given this opportunity to say a few words about someone so precious to me and to my family.
However, I’ve asked Father David to share what I’ve written, as it would be impossible for me to speak today without becoming emotional.
So, whilst I’m overwhelmingly saddened not to be able to personally share my words, I hope you’ll appreciate that what you’re about to hear is truly heartfelt.
It’s impossible to sum up what someone meant to you in just a few words, but for many of you present here today, I’m sure one word that springs to mind of Harry, was that he was a gentleman.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a Gentleman as “ a chivalrous, courteous or honourable man”.
Harry was all of this and more.
Harry was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.
He was also a gentle man.
He was deeply religious, kind and considerate, quiet, thoughtful, funny, artistic, intelligent, possessing no need or desire to be the centre of attention. There was no pretense with Harry, he was a truly genuine man. He disliked greed and injustice and he lived a modest and very happy life.
Harry was undoubtedly the backbone of our family. Whenever anyone needed help, Harry was always there for them.
It’s clearly evident that he loved his family and especially his wife, …and not only did they love each other, but they were also deeply ‘in love’ with each other.
Harry wouldn’t hurt a fly. And I’m not solely quoting an idiom there; I mean it in the literal sense too.
Up until only a few years ago, Harry was able to catch a fly in mid-flight, only to release it outside and send it on its way. There were also countless occasions where he dashed to rescue my sister if a harmless house spider managed to hold her captive.
And each and every one of God’s creatures that Harry came across was given the name “Billy”.
He used to amaze us all with his sprightliness up until not so long ago, and I loved listening to him regaling tales of his youth.
Harry was an extremely fascinating man.
Harry enriched my life and my family’s, and I’m truly blessed to have known him.
He cared for me as a child, gave me guidance, showed me that being kind is a gift.
I loved Harry just for being Harry and Harry stepped in when I needed a dad.
I’ve no doubt that you’re all familiar with proverbs such as “every cloud has a silver lining”, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and so on.
But there’s one proverb which I simply have to disagree with.
And that is, “blood is thicker than water”.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have a daughter. Her name is Hannah and she’s five years old. And whilst Hannah and her Grandpa didn’t share the same bloodline, that’s completely insignificant to us.
I know for a fact that Harry adored his three Grandchildren…and we all adored him. Very much.
I’ll be eternally grateful for the love Harry showed to Hannah; for his optimism, for understanding our pain, for praying every single day for her, for his silent strength, for listening, for having faith, for believing in her and so much more.
Last year I took a photograph of Hannah holding her Grandpa’s hand whilst he lay desperately ill in his hospital bed.
For me, that photograph speaks of love.
Complete, unconditional love.
It’s a snapshot in time of two beautiful, connected souls.
And when Grandpa came home from hospital, his face still lit up when Hannah entered the room.
Whilst he was much frailer and saddened that he couldn’t sit her on his knee, he held Hannah just as tightly with his adoring eyes and his love and belief in her remained as strong as it ever was.
To observe that love; that awe-inspiring, powerful, mutual bond between grandchild and grandfather makes a mockery of the proverb.
…and it made my heart melt, because love like that is precious.
So no, ‘blood’ is definitely NOT thicker than water.
Not in our world anyway.
Whilst Harry leaves a void in our hearts that can never be filled, I believe that he is all around us, and through his ability to see life in such a beautiful way there’ll be lots of fond memories and reminders that he leaves as his legacy – a legacy far more valuable and precious than material possessions. He’s in the bubbles in the washing up bowl, in the lump of cheese for your lunchtime sandwich, in a can of Guinness, in books and paintings, in vibrant weeds that fill the cracks of the pavements, in a song, in the smile of his granddaughter.
Harry is everywhere, if only we take the time to look.
It isn’t often that we tell the people that we love how we truly feel about them; don’t let that be a regret.
If you can take anything away from today, know that you were a part of Harry’s life in some way and be grateful for the honour of knowing such a unique and precious man.