Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Eulogy to my Dad

A Family’s Eulogy to their dad, Frank Edward Smith,
on the occasion of his funeral, 

 presented by his son Ian on 19th April 2011

at St. Peter’s Church, Marymead, Stevenage, England

I spend much of my working life standing in front of people and explaining abstract concepts to them in order to help them to use such concepts in their professional lives.

So why is it that when preparing for what I wanted to say today,  to describe the great love that one man had for his family,  I found myself  mentally dumbstruck? Perhaps it is that that love was so profound and all encompassing that it was almost impossible to put into words. I still feel uncomfortable presenting what I want to express and I hope you will forgive me if I flounder like some babbling idiot. Just to remind you of how  I feel to day I would like to wear this, I hope your god doesn't mind (cub cap on head).

Today I feel small, scared and somehow excited, very much like how I felt on one evening in my early life, a Wednesday I think, when my dad took me to a little event that was an experience to spark of in me a lifetimes worth of interest in the world around me; and for my dad it was the start of a renaissance.

But those emotions that I felt that day have a very different significance today:
I feel very small
- Compared to the memory of my father, a great man
I feel a little scared
- That what few words I have found will be an injustice to that memory
I feel somewhat excited
- at the prospect of eulogising such a wonderful warm and loving man
and I feel sad , very sad - that my dad is no longer with us

One cannot talk about my Dad's life without mentioning the Scout Movement. Dad was involved in the Scout's both before and after the Second world war, but after the war, as for many young men returning from their service, dad came back to a different world, and the Scout movement, I guess, had reduced its relevance to him at that time. He married my mum in the last year of the war and a couple of years later she gave birth to their first daughter, my big sister Janet, followed a few years later by our tiny explosion Carol, I followed at the end of the 50's, the only boy in this quartet, and our sixties sister Marion arrives just as the sixties were getting interesting and completing my dad's first family.

On that evening in the mid sixties, the one I mentioned earlier, the day I joined the Cubs, I remember looking for him to take me home only to find him talking to a visiting scout leader in another room, dad had signed back into the movement and the movement would never look back.

My sisters and I have many fond memories of our dad and I asked each of the girls for just one to put into this eulogy. At first, I was a little surprised, by the seemingly small events that they retold and that those events had stuck so long in their minds and grown to such enormity.

Marion remembered
A drive in Wales on our way to one of our adventures where dad, as always, eager to help leaped out of the Transit van, that we were in, to provide guidance for our driver's particularly difficult manoeuvrings round a narrow country lane. Dad disappeared into a ditch taller than his 5'6" and the driver drove on only to be stopped by our plaintive cries from the back.

Carol remembered
Her wedding day; everybody was waiting at the registry office and dad had not yet arrived. A quick phone call confirmed he had decided to wash the kitchen floor as "he had the time". Anyway, sure enough, he arrived on time on his moped in his leathers and like some festive superman he peeled them off to reveal his Wedding suit beneath.

I also remember him burning his nose on the Iron while ironing shirts "Just testing if it was hot enough", the Red nose was there for weeks.

Were we remembering how accident-prone or absent minded dad was? I think not, I think it was the sense of fun that he exuded especially at times like these when he would laugh with us and at himself. Something I think we all inherited just a little from him.

Janet, the elder, remembered helping dad with Sunday dinner, this was our mum's day off, by order of dad, probably the only order he ever gave to her. Jan also has fond memories of hanging wallpaper with him as I think we all did. Was she remembering the chores we had to do? I think not, I think it was all about the quality time he spent with each of us in the gang of four and the love that he showed us all in every action he took. After my mum died in 1969 he did not pull into himself as he could well have done, but just poured more love out of his ever-full cup.

What we all remember is his gentle way of dealing with all of us and that tiny push of encouragement he gave to us to step outside of our comfort zone and thus make as much out of lives as we wished to. We also remember his impeccable morals, and the manners that he showed to every man woman and child of every creed and colour.

My dad had so much love in his heart to give, one family was not enough so he had to give this and his massive enthusiasm for living life to the full, to the many lads and lasses who sought adventure and fun through the scout movement which became his second family, this only added to his first families lives.

After we, the gang of four, were well on the paths to our own lives he re-married and took on yet one more family by marrying our step-mum Doris and bringing in our two step brothers Frank & Ian, you can imagine the name confusion with brother-in-law Ian and my wife to be, another Carol, as well.

We all miss you dad, but you will forever stay in our hearts, minds and actions. We all hope that we have taught our kids just a fraction of what you have taught us because if we have, they will turn out to be great citizens of this world, our earth.

So I'd now like to take this hat off to him for the last time, and wish from all of us to you, god speed dad.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Frank Edward Smith: 29th December 1919 - 29th March 2011

Announcing the death of my father at 91 years.
Too much pain to say much else at this time.