To my Dad
Sadly on January 13th this year, my father passed away. On Thursday, I spoke at his funeral. Delivering the Eulogy was one of the hardest and most emotional things I've done. But, I don't want it to remain a private thing, delivered to the people in the room. I want it to stand as a tribute to a great man and loving father.
Thank you all for being here today.
It would have made dad so proud to see so many people here. I’m Duncan, Richard was my father. And I’d like to tell you about how I will remember him.
It is an odd thing, speaking at the funeral of the man that has served as the narrator of your life.
In the hours and days since his death, I feel as if I’ve lost my words. I suppose it is because he was the person that provided me with so many of them.
Working through the things you have to do after a loved one dies is hard. There are a so many people to notify, the official calls to make, forms that must be filled in and letters to write. You barely have time to start the grieving process, so fixated do you have to be on organising things.
But, even at 40 there is still room to grow up in these moments.
And so, whilst at so many times over the past few days, as I’ve struggled or hurt or hoped, I’ve thought: I should call Dad. He’d help me. He’ll know what to do and how to do it.”
Instead though, I’ve had to grow up and find my own way.
Speaking of growing up, I can remember the moment I felt I had become a man.
It wasn’t when I turned 18 or 21. It wasn’t when I got my first job or legally bought my first beer.
It was a Thursday in the summer of 1996. I was sat in the Flat after a shift in The Windmill on Chiswick High Road. Dad came home unusually early from work and invited me to join him and his mate on a night out to a pub in Ealing where they were playing live Jazz. Many hours later, after beer, Whisky and a Cigar we made it home. And that was it. I’d grown up.
I like to say that he was my mentor.
A man in the best sense of the word. Honest, fair and true. I hope he would say the same of me. But if I’m honest, that might be me being selfish with his memory as having heard from many of you he was a mentor to you too.
My dad saw things simply and clearly.
There was the right way of doing things, and there was other people’s way. But he also saw potential – in people, jobs, and life. He saw things other people didn’t always see in ways they didn’t always consider.
And that was humbling
He was always so sensible, so organised so knowledgeable.
And yet, some 30 odd years after it happened it still amazes me that when we went to see Raiders of the Lost Arc at the cinema in Richmond (which was a big deal as we didn’t often go to the cinema together, it was usually a family outing), we had to leave early because he’d parked in a car park that closed before the film ended.
It was years before I knew how Indiana Jones escaped from a room full of snakes.
Like everyone, he had his faults.
He did have a temper sometimes. None of us involved will ever forget the time we were playing around the pool in Sheen.
I remember it being a lovely summer day. And a special one because the cousins were over and we didn’t see them that often.
Dad was taking the opportunity to sneak up on people and push them in the pool. But, oh how he didn’t take kindly to being pushed in himself. So much so he threw our cousins out the house.
All was, of course, forgiven, but we never forgot and we still to this day look back on this and laugh.
When you were with him one on one, usually over a nice meal, and his eyes locked in on you, and only you, you knew you were in for a tough time.
He had this smile, I’m sure many of you will have experienced it. Slightly sideways, very cheeky, that let you know that he was thinking about what topic he could start an argument about that would best push your buttons.
It didn’t matter if he really believed the points he was making, he just made it his business to put forward the best argument he could on any subject he could think of that might wind you up.
Dad was lucky to have a family made up of Cantors, Graemes and Duffs that loved him.
And he was generous with his love in return.
As his son, I know he would have done anything to help me. And I know that Natalie knows that he was always there when she needed him too.
For me, he is The Great Escape and the Towering Inferno at Christmas. He is going to the Synagogue on Ross Hashanah and Passover (but only if we went to church on Christmas and Easter). He is golf on Saturdays. And Golf on Sundays. He is staying up late to watch the US election results come in. He is musicals and plays on birthdays and falling asleep in the cinema. He is working hard and taking pride in doing a good job. Lately he is Judge Judy and The Chase on endless repeats.
But most of all, he is always my dad.
He cared, he was listening, and he would help in any way he could. I’m going to miss that so very much.
Friends were also important to him.
He made close friendships over long periods of time. And it’s great to see so many of you here today.
It would be difficult to call out anyone by name for fear of missing anyone out. But I know it would be remiss of me not to mention John Detre who has been such a close friend of both Dad and the family for far longer than I’ve been alive.
I know Dad valued your friendship and council so much and I just wanted to say thank you for the joy you brought him.
I was sent this sentence from a friend when they learnt Dad had passed away and I’ll treasure it, as I hope you all will too:
Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.
And to that I can only add…
Dad, although we knew it was coming, we were never ready for you to leave.
So I’d like to read this poem as it seems so apt:
I thought of you today, but that is nothing new
I though of you yesterday, and days before that too
I think of you in silence, and often say your name
All I have are memories, and your picture in a frame
Your memory is a keepsake, from which I’ll never part
God has you in his arms
I have you in my heart
Dad, you were loved so much by so many. May you rest in peace always.