A week ago we bid goodbye to Dad. My sister and Mum asked me to write something to say about Dad to be spoken by the celebrant. What got me though in the end was not the words, they had got me the day before when I was writing them, it was the song we had chosen to say goodbye to Dad as the curtains closed on his coffin (which was cardboard because Dad was a joiner and he didn’t want good wood being wasted). The words are here for those who have lost parents, who are trying to find the words to say what needs to be spoken.
Think about your Dads. Think about your husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children. Sum them up in one word. You are still a million miles away from telling us what they mean to you because when you get to that part of your life when one of them leaves a hole in your days there are simply not enough words to fill that pain. The pain we feel now is the love we felt when Dad was alive, there has never been anyone in our lives who could fill the room with joy, sheer daftness and a surreal understanding of time. Our Dad had the uncanny ability of being ludicrously early, and in that time honoured getting us somewhere before we woke up, he has gone too soon from our lives in the bid to be the first at the buffet, wherever he has gone. When we think of Geoff as a friend, joiner, bowler, loving husband, Granddad and Dad to all that needed him we all have a million words that could fill the hole he has left. Think of them and the stories that went with him. He gave the best hugs, the daftest advice when we were upset and had a knack of showing you how to do a thing by doing it himself. Dad knew what joy was, he laughed, he laughed at himself, he laughed at us, he laughed with us at the world and he filled our days with quick wit, warmth and love for those around him. We learnt from him that bickering was a way of saying, ‘I love you, I trust you, now shut up the Tour de France is on’. We learnt from him that he was the master of his house and whatever his wife said went. We learnt from him that we should never go to bed with a cross word or with windows closed after eating black peas. The night he died we sat as a family in the hospital, we cried, and we told stories about him and we laughed, and we laughed and we laughed remembering how he would build kites from white bin bags because a black bin bag wouldn’t do for a kite, how our childhood games were tied together with things found in his shed and how if it broke, he would fix it again and again because that is what he did. Our Dad’s final gift is that on that last day as he left to go bowling at St Paul’s was to give our Mum the biggest hug and kiss he had done in a long time. He gave the best hugs. The kind of hugs that said, ‘It will be okay, I can fix anything broken’. Our Dad, our Geoff, crafted his world with his hands and every story we tell of him makes us smile. You are never gone from this world whilst there is someone to remember you and tell your story, Dad. We will tell your story for rest of our days, and they will be tales full of joy and laughter.