Life, photos but not the universe

Gathering up the pieces of memory

We will miss the frequent, extraordinarily brief phone calls just to check that we were all well and to confirm that he was.  And the other phone calls with requests for recipes and cooking information – how long would you cook a lamb chop?  Under the grill?  Is it safe to eat a stew I made last week if it’s been in the fridge since Tuesday?  What do you suggest I add to the poached haddock?  Oh and we’ll so miss the calls from, for instance, a trip boat, somewhere out on an estuary where he’d gone for the day with his cousin, or from some hotel in the North where he was enjoying a weekend with friends.

We’ll miss the carefully detailed advance instructions about who should park in which order when we visited him at his home. We won’t miss the very early starts on journeys to be quite sure that we’d arrive before dark – even when he was being driven by one of us.  But I’ll always treasure the memory of the enormous pleasure he took in having discovered a route from our house to his which involved not a single right turn or major roundabout once you’d got onto the motorway system.

I’ll remember with rueful affection the gentle, beaming and mischievous twinkle with which he’d ask “And what delights will you be tempting me with tonight  (for dinner)?” or “Do you have any little sweetmeats for me?”

Then there was the time I went to look after him during a bout of severe food poisoning (which most unfairly, he got from a pie eaten on his 82nd  birthday).  “It’s over-rated, being 82”, he said mournfully regarding a very tiny bowl of porridge.  “I don’t like it much”.  And then after few days he announced (at breakfast time) “I think I could fancy two or three prawns, cooked in butter with a very small piece of brown bread”.  Yay! I thought, he’s on the way back : )

As soon as he was recovered, he was off again, visiting people, enjoying his lunchtime drinks with old friends and making the most of every resource he had.

It was such fun to watch him at gatherings, flirting outrageously but in the most acceptable way with all the ladies.  Yet, his was a restful presence.  We could sit for a good while in silence, reading and just an occasional word would pass between us.  Not to say that he wasn’t great company (always immaculately dressed, even if he was only going to the pub for a pint and a game of crib), interested in people, respectful of them whether they were there or not. He liked a well turned phrase and had a gentle and kindly wit.  The only things which made him angry were injustice and waste but many things gave him pleasure and he was always appreciative of good food and hospitality.  It made him a delight to entertain.

Of all my family, I believe he was the least emotionally stressful.  It is typical of him that in his last few days he made the effort to squeeze hands and make eye contact.  So gentle, so considerate and so determined not to cause any inconvenience.

Not that he didn’t make his needs and desires known.  And indeed he could be absolutely exasperating but searching my memories, I really can’t remember exactly why.  He always managed to be neither self effacing nor obtrusive but had a kind of unassuming dignity which was totally disarming.   He always paid attention, be it to a demanding child or a grouchy daughter in law : )  And made the best of whatever he found.

I think he wouldn’t thank us for making too much of the grief and sadness which his absence will cause.  He always moved on with fortitude and determination from loss and difficulty and illness and he would expect his family and friends to do the same.  I for one, am grateful and proud to have been included in his family and to have had the privilege of knowing him.  I know that wherever he went there are many others who feel the same.  As he lived, so he will be remembered, with deep affection, admiration and respect.

Well, here’s a photo which captures his humour,  joie de vivre and charm (thank you Peter, for making a lovely portrait of him).

What a lovely man.


February 22, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. that made me smile

    and, am I correct in thinking that his son shares his (obvious) good looks. . .

    thank you for a generously written and thoughtful portrait and for finding such a lovely photo

    I’m happy for you that you have memories that shine like the light on a summer’s morning and sad for you that he has gone

    but oh! what a wonderful man!

    Comment by I, Like The View | February 22, 2010 | Reply

    • You are absolutely correct I and he’s inherited the other half of his looks from his Mum. Lucky boy 🙂
      I’m glad this made you smile.

      Comment by letouttoplay | February 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. What a loving tribute to a life well lived.
    Your words have painted a portrait of some one I would have loved to have known. And the gratitude I read in your words tells me how blessed you know you have been. This is a treasure to keep for always.

    Comment by Sorrow | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Blessed indeed Sorrow.

      Comment by letouttoplay | February 23, 2010 | Reply

  3. He was adorable.

    Comment by Thursday | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • He was Thursday, and I think he rather liked you two too 🙂

      Comment by letouttoplay | February 23, 2010 | Reply

  4. Oh Mig–I got weepy and smiled at coming to know the man through your eyes. Lovely and loving and loved–so obviously loved.

    (((((((((((( Mig )))))))))))) I’m sad for your loss–but ever so grateful you were graced to really know him.

    My regards to himself–he’s in my thoughts, as are you.

    (((((( Barney )))))))

    Comment by Mel | February 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Graced and lucky and will miss him dreadfully Mel. Thank you.

      Comment by letouttoplay | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  5. Mig; what a beautiful tribute to your father-in-law. The photo speaks volumes to me of him as do your words. He was lucky to have had such love from his daughter in law too. You and Barney are in my prayers and thoughts.

    Comment by Betty | February 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you Betty. He deserved as much love as could possibly be given – and got it too : )

      Comment by letouttoplay | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  6. I’m speechless, but I send positive energy your way for all who need it.

    Comment by Spadoman | February 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you Spadoman, that’s a welcome thought.
      You too.

      Comment by letouttoplay | February 24, 2010 | Reply

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