Eulogy

In case anyone out there was wondering what my dad was like, so that I don’t lose it and for anyone who I know in Real World who might want to re-read it, this is the eulogy I gave at my dad’s funeral. In case anyone was wondering, my brother and I both called him ‘Ade’ rather than Dad but he was our real father (and ‘M’ referred to is my brother). I managed not to cry which was fortunate because my backup reader, Best Friend, was not at all convinced that she could get through it either.

Eulogy

Everyone is here because they knew Ade, also known as Beardyman, Baldyman and the Old Goat, in some way, so you’ll all know he had many character traits that made him him. I thought I’d have a look at some of them.

Ade was fun, as anyone who’s seen him doing his drunken Bay City Rollers or Professor Gumby impressions will tell you. If you wanted someone to sit in the garden with and demolish two bottles of wine and the business end of a litre of port on a random sunny Friday night then he was your man. Mum was less than impressed when she came home to find us completely cross eyed and trying to launch the posh crockery into the dishwasher. Even through the port-flavoured haze we recognised that she meant it when she told us to ‘step away from the Wedgewood’. That was the worst hangover I’ve ever had, he was fine, which seemed to me to be completely unfair.

Ade was practical. Before he started the nursing home he used to spend Saturdays building things in the garage and I’d help, while listening to the football scores on a ancient brown radio that was a funny shape due to some sort of unfortunate heat-related accident many years earlier. Despite my help he managed to build my cabin bed, complete with ladder, it was very impressive. It was from him that I learned the vitals of gardening such as never pick the rosemary from the sides of the bush because it’s covered in dog wee and the art of pest-control – slugs are best loaded onto a trowel and fired as far as possible whereas due to the hard shell you can get a decent distance clearance on a snail with a drop kick. Ade could often be found after a couple of sweet sherries, in the garden hunting for slimy creatures to fire into neighbouring gardens. I’d like to point out, since we have some neighbours here, that we only fired to the back, not to the sides.

Ade could be embarrassing, especially once I hit teenage. He had particular fun with boys that would ring up to speak to me, developing the habit of ‘putting them on hold’. This involved informing the unfortunate lad on the phone that he was being put on hold then singing Greensleeves at them tunelessly until either they hung up or I spotted what he was doing and wrestled the phone off him. His other telephone favourite was to inform them, regardless of where in the house I was, that I was in the toilet, I’d gone in with a book and a brew and if he was them, he’d give it half an hour. Then there was his ‘dad dancing’ which he liked to perform in public places as a cunning device to embarrass M and me. “What’s this? It’s got a good beat” – thumbs in front, arse put backwards, arms and legs swinging in a set of movements that at no point was allowed to correspond with the beat of the music. A man not afraid to make a pillock of himself in the name of humour.

Ade was educational. He took us on family trips to Beamish and the various historic ships at Portsmouth. More than once he proved that perhaps sailors in olden days were shorter than him by forgetting to duck and smacking the top of his head on the doorframe. For someone who’d carried that height for 40 odd years he never did get the hang of it, he spent half his time with a scab in the middle of his bald patch. From him I learned such important things as all the words the ‘The German Officers’, a song you’re never likely to hear at a Royal Garden Party and ‘Never trust a man with shiny shoes, he could be using them to look up your skirt’. Wise words indeed. He could also be patient, in all the long drives to France on holiday, a thousand miles of ‘Mum, he’s on my half of the armrest’ and ‘She’s stolen my tape, make her give it back’ I only remember two incidences of ‘If you two don’t shut it right now I’m going to put you both out on the hard shoulder and bloody well leave you there’. Not bad going because we were a nightmare in an enclosed space, I’d have dropped us off the boat as we were leaving the coast if I’d have been him.

Ade was our medical man, he took my stitches out in our kitchen, the neighbours probably still remember the screeching. When I smacked M in  the eye with half a brick up at the caravan, he was the one who came up with the bright idea of dangling him in the river to take the swelling down. Enterprising. Ade was the one who took us to grim medical appointments like dental extractions and vile tests and he was the first one to find the humour in these situations, usually by pointing out that the whole world can see your arse in that medical gown and taking the mick. He did however drop the ball on a couple of occasions, such as missing the fact that the reason I was whinging was that my arm was broken or telling me to stop moaning and go back to playing in the sea, those fingers are just bruised, only starting to look interested when the ends began to turn a funny colour. We all have off days.

Ade could be parental. He was the one who wrote to Miss Davenport, the form tutor of the green fog breath, to inform her that since I was 18 and old enough to vote, get shot for my country and buy house, what he would be doing about the fact that I had been caught smoking behind the garages next to school would be precisely chuff all as I was now old enough to do stupid things without intervention. He gave me the lecture on why it was wrong of me and Nic S to send the condom through the post to some lad we’d met on a school ski trip for a laugh, causing his mother to complain to the school about the conduct of its pupils and miraculously he managed to do it with a straight face. He was also the one who informed me that on Clare R it might be a beige suede miniskirt but I was a good half a foot taller so on me it was a beige suede belt, I looked like a two bit trollop and I was not in any way, shape or form going out dressed like that. Imagine how well that went down.

Lastly Ade could be caring. He and mum spent years ferrying M and me to various places at various unearthly hours and subbing me when I was skint. When I started primary school he used to make up little exercises in a notebook for me to practice my maths and English, on my wedding night he arranged a surprise night in the Midland Hotel for Mr V and me. Even a fortnight before he died he was in the garden potting up lettuces for me. There isn’t enough time in the day to list all the little things he did for us over the years so I’m not even going to try.

In short, Ade had many character traits but the one that stands out for M and me is that he was a great dad, from start to finish, we thought the world of him and he’ll be missed by us both, as well as all of you. We’re all painfully aware that his life was too short, we should have had more time but I know I speak for M as well as myself when I say that we would rather have had 30 years with Ade as a father than 60 with a lesser man. Laters Chief, I’ll see you around.

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26 Responses

  1. I’m sure Ade would have been proud of his daughter’s eulogy, Vicola. Precious memories will always be with you.

    • Thanks Snowy, I’d rather have him here than just the memories but sadly that cannot be and we all have to just try and learn to get as best we can without him.

  2. Well done Vic – really, really well done. You’re a braver woman than me – I couldn’t do it.

    • Thanks Plubby, it was tough but we got through it. My brother managed to get through his without breaking too, which was also most impressive.

  3. You did yourself and your dad proud, Vicola. Wonderful.

  4. Amazing. What a beautiful piece of writing. He sounds like he was a fantastic man and that you have some wonderful memories of him.

    • I’ve got thousands of amazing memories of him, the difficulty was cutting them down so that I didn’t keep people sat there all day while I just ranted on at them with everything I remember. He was a great dad and he’s very sadly missed. To be honest, it’s still not quite real, I’m still expecting him to just walk back into the house.

  5. Amazingly well done – and like Plubby said, I couldn’t have done it either.

    • I didn’t think I’d be able to either but somehow I did. Had it been at the morning service at the crem, where the coffin was, I wouldn’t have got past the first paragraph before dissolving into a little puddle on the floor.

  6. A beautifully written eulogy Vicola which leaves me feeling as though I knew your Dad.

    • Thanks Gof, I just wanted to highlight to people who only knew him a bit or who had lost touch with him, or maybe just knew him as their boss that he was a fun sort of man, who could make you laugh but who cared deep down and would do anything for you. My brother, his brother and an old friend also did eulogies and between us all I think we pretty much covered what he was.

  7. so poignant and beautifully written … you couldn’t have honoured your Dad in a better way.

    • Thanks Annie, I wanted to do him proud. My brother also did one, it was brilliant and funny and he got through it without crying too. Neither of us thought we had much chance of doing that.

  8. Good job, Vicola. That must have been very hard.

    • It was indeed, it took ages and a couple of tantrums to get started but once I got going it just seemed to sort of pour out, cutting it down so I didn’t take half an hour and overwhelm people with every memory I could dredge up was the tough bit!

  9. Lovely work Vicola. And you were worried about being able to write it.

    • It did take me ages to get started. Once I got going it was ok but starting took 90 minutes, 2 tantrums and a handful of After Eight chocolates. Writing my letter to my dad was slightly easier because I was a bit pissed and I’m always less emotionally retarded when I’m a bit pissed.

  10. That is so amazing – and to read it out as well … you have my utmost admiration.

    • Thanks Jando, it was hard to read but I managed to get through it in one piece, just about. Best Friend was primed and ready to take over if I unravelled but fortunately, since she was in tears, she didn’t have to. My brother got all the way through his too, which was a corker and opened with the line that it seemed unfair that Adrian had been taken when the likes of Paul Burrell are still alive and well. Controversial yet true, cracking opener!

  11. He sounds completely ace, Vicola. I love the Greensleeves bit.

    My heartfelt condolences to you and your loved ones XO

    • He was completely ace Inga, he was the funniest and best dad in the world. Although I do accept I may be a tiny bit biased. The greensleeves calls are funny now but believe me, I was not laughing when at 15 he was doing it to lads I fancied down the telephone…

  12. How beautiful, said with true love and devotion.
    Condolences.

  13. What a wonderful eulogy Vicola – it must have been incredibly difficult delivering it. Your father sounds as though he was warm, caring and a lot of fun. A bloody good dad; gone too soon. I’m so sorry.

  14. Sorry to be commenting so late in the day but the eulogy was beautiful – your dad sounds like an exceptional and wonderful man and I am so sorry that your time with him was too short. xxx

  15. Excellent.
    I will have two drinks tonight one for him and one for you.

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