Eulogies. Very hard to write. Harder still to deliver.
In loving memory of Roland Smith.
That’s what the engraving will say on the cover of my Dad’s niche.
But memories are a strange and unreliable, fickle thing.
There’s been research to show that we often create our own memories, sometimes willingly so. Our memories can even be influenced by what people tell us.
When we had to choose a picture of my Dad for the wake, I suggested one from the time when I had the fondest memories of him as a father, the one you see today in which he looks like Elvis Presley. This was how I remembered him when I was five.
Over the years, he became more career-minded.
He put in a lot of hours into his job and as a result grew distant and detached.
The years of devotion to his job took a toll on him.
The entertaining of clients did not help his diabetes and he was left with little time to do what he really wanted or needed to do. One thing led to another and his health deteriorated over the years.
All this sacrifice to make a better life for his family.
Many of you have described my Dad as a jovial, joking, person with a big heart.
The descriptions of him almost made him seem like another person.
I know him mostly as a distant, stoic, even stern father.
But maybe we were privileged to see his tired face from working so hard at his career.
Perhaps this was the side of him which he trusted only a few to see.
The last few months of my Dad’s life were not at all pleasant, being at hospitals with his health getting worse all the time.
He was already very weak after going in and out of hospitals from the years before.
Two days before he passed, he could barely speak. He knew he was going and asked the nurses to call for his children to be there.
The few words he said to me were on Sunday were “How’s work?” and “How are the boys?”
This was his way of saying “Son, I love and care for you,” and “I deeply love both my awesome grandchildren.”
The video calls from the hospital beds to his two grandsons always made him so happy.
Life is too short for words to be left unsaid and deeds to be left undone.
On Tuesday, the morning he was called home, he hung on a while more waiting for all his family to be there.
His heart already had to be revived three times during the night and he was unconscious.
The doctors had already said it was pointless to keep trying.
Finally, when all of us were there, his eyes opened and he even appeared lucid.
I said to him, “St John and Randy, both your grandsons, love you very much.
“We love you, Daddy.”
These were my last words to him before he closed his eyes and took one final breath.
With the impressions of my Dad shared by others over the past few days, I now see him as a strong, boisterous, kind, spirited, gentle, jovial, funny, caring and generous person.
This is how we all can remember him.
This is how I’ve chosen to remember him.
In loving memory.