Richard and I were together for forty two years. He truly was the love of my life and my heart is broken. I am not going to pretend we were always lovey-dovey. We had our moments of what I call “love talk”, but in all that time we never stopped loving each other. I am trying to tell myself not to be sad that he has gone but to be grateful for the time we had. He had been very ill for the past three years, and in and out of hospital for most of this one, and I am trying to remember him how he was when all we had to worry about was a trifling spinal cord injury.
smart, kind and funny
Carmel, Jemima and Elliot are going to tell you what a great dad he was but as a husband, he really was my “other half”. Some people spend their whole lives searching for their person. I was lucky to find mine early on. When I met him at the age of seventeen, I fell in love with his huge Cheshire cat smile. He was smart, kind and funny.
As a family we all turned to him for advice whenever we were in a dilemma. He always managed to sound authoritative, even on subjects he knew nothing about. He was the most moral person I have known, which made his chosen career as a loss adjuster the perfect choice. Even more so once he specialised in detecting fraud and would dine out on tales of the criminals he had caught bang to rights.
specialised in detecting fraud
Sadly, Richard was not blessed with good health. I will not say he never complained, but he did not let it stop him enjoying life. He loved me, his children, eating out, holidays and celebrating the children’s achievements.
Richard kept his sense of humour to the last. When in his final days, one of the wonderful nurses at the Royal Free enquired how he was doing, he replied, deadpan, “Oh, tickety-boo”.
He was brave and strong, fighting so hard to stay with us for longer despite the pain but, sadly, it was not to be. He was loved by everyone who knew him and I will love and miss him for the rest of my life.
The day before my Dad passed away, I committed myself to making a book of his life using the many photos I have. As I sat next to him in the hospital room just three days ago, here is an excerpt of some of the things I jotted down.
love will be his legacy
First of all, nothing I can say now, will ever convey a lifetime of memories, jokes, love and happiness, but I am left with the overwhelming feeling of wanting to convey just how special he is to all of us. He was taken from us far too soon, and even when having to confront his own death he did so with such bravery, strength, love and humour.
As I said to him many times in the final weeks of his life, God did not deal him the card of good health, but he dealt him an abundance of love, and love will be his legacy. He was surrounded by love all the time from our whole family and we know that is what he valued most in this life, with many doctors even remarking how much of a fighter he was and he kept fighting every last breath just to be here for us. Even when struggling for breath he could still mutter how much he loved us all.
he was always smiling
I remember he once remarked he was only ever as happy as his unhappiest child, and nothing gave him more joy than savouring our achievements, listening to mundane life moments, the family “problem solver”, constantly trying to advise and protect us from life’s problems. As I look at old photos of him, one of the many things I am struck by now is how he was always smiling. He loved life and he wanted to live, and he fought for as long as possible to be here for us.
I will miss our Friday night dinners together, where he made the famous roast potatoes and roast chicken, a recipe I perfected when he became too ill to cook; listening to Ennio Morricone in the car, from art exhibitions and city breaks. There are simply too many things I will miss to mention. It is important we try to remember him before he became ill. I describe him lovingly like a caricature, a man with a big tummy, huge smile, kiss curl hair, and full of goofiness and funny expressions. I love him so much and I know he touched everyone here today. I just hope that now, as we kids continue his legacy, God gives us the strength to live well and make him proud.
My Dad was a great man.
He had a great sense of humour, he was so strong and he always did his best to make the people he loved happy.
We were never big on talking about our feelings but I know that every time I baked him a cake and he picked me up from somewhere it was our way of saying we love each other.
I always admired his strength despite all the hardship life gave him as he continued to fill his life with love and happiness.
He fought every day for us
Even at the end, Richard never gave up with many nurses remarking on how much of a fighter he was.
He fought every day for us because he wanted to be part of our lives for as long as he could.
Words will never be able to do justice to the man he was and all the happy memories we have of him. But I will miss him every day for the rest of my life, as I am sure everyone here will.
What more can I say about my Dad? His role in my life was so central, that I can hardly conceive of what my life will be like without him. I struggle to imagine, but must now find out. It is hard to summarise his life in just a few words. He was the centrepiece of the family, and no single story can serve as a microcosm to illustrate the richness he brought to all aspects of my life.
in-jokes, impressions, and the driest irony
I think ‘richness’ is a good word to describe what he brought. Not simply because his name was ‘Richard’, but because he lived such a vibrant life despite his disabilities. He did not strive to be especially practical or productive, instead choosing to savour a fulsome life wherever he could. Whenever he would call me, it would ostensibly be to ask how I was, but the jokes were never very far behind. My Dad had a fantastic sense of humour, replete with in-jokes, impressions, and the driest irony. My Dad played such a foundational role in my life, it is hard to disentangle the things I get from him from how I just naturally am. He got me into videogames, for instance. I remember being a six year old and watching him play the original Halo on the original XBOX. We both played every Halo game together, and I really wanted to finish the most recent one with him, but sadly we did not have enough time.
like a brother
It made me realise that in many ways, my Dad was a lot like a brother to me. Before being a husband or father, brother is actually the role that my Dad held for the longest time in his life. Being the middle child, Richard spent his whole life surrounded by boys, so I wanted to look at how my Dad’s formative experiences supporting and being supported by brothers changed him, and helped make him the person he was today. Maybe I will even be able to learn something from my Dad’s example about how I should be as a brother.
I can tell that Richard’s relationship with his brothers was built on a unique combination of mutual support and sarcasm. At school, for instance, Richard would always review his brothers’ school lunches, insightfully remarking that they either “got lucky” or “didn’t” with the portions that day. Early on, this demonstrated my Dad’s lawyerly sense of justice, which his brothers all benefitted from. Moreover, in the 1970s when TVs had lots of buttons that needed pressing, Richard enlisted Keith as “the family remote”, with the special duty of controlling the TV so that Richard could sit on the couch. But the support my Dad gave was always there when it really mattered. Just like when I moved to Germany, I could see how my Dad was supportive to his brothers too. When Anthony was getting ready for his first day of big boy school, Anthony was worried about how he would find it without his brothers being there to back him up. In a touching display of empathy, my Dad gave Anthony that troll doll, and told him that the troll would protect Anthony, even in Richard’s absence.
always there, always present
From my fact-finding mission, I also learnt that my Dad was full of brotherly wisdom. My Dad was always diligent and studious at school, notwithstanding his poor spelling. Perhaps because of this my Dad was a veritable font of advice. Whenever Keith wanted to discuss something big or small, Richard was always the first person he would turn to, much to Aunty Anne’s dismay. For example, when Keith wanted to buy a new car with tinted windows my Dad wisely pointed out to Keith that he would look like a chauffeur whenever he drives, and doubly so when Keith cleaned the car after a drive. Keith concurred, and bought the car anyway. Richard’s advice was so keenly felt by Keith, that he even felt the need to bring it with him on holiday, calling Richard constantly to get his opinion about the itinerary, food, and other travel arrangements. Princess Diana always said that, “There were three of us in this marriage”, and I think Aunty Anne feels the same way, often remarking that it was as if we had brought Richard on holiday with us.
I think so much of why we came to my Dad for advice comes from the fact he was always there, always present. He knew his brothers’ lives inside and out, just as he knew mine. Mirroring my own experiences, Richard was there not just when the big things happened, but also when the mundane everyday things happened. This meant taking the time to listen and laugh, even when it was about nothing at all. In that way, listening to Richard and Keith speak on the phone several times a day was like a bizarre episode of Seinfeld. They would prattle on about nothing much, day in, day out. I hope I can follow my Dad’s example, and become more present for my own siblings by prattling on too much. But alas, this might be a skill unique to Richard, which is why I’ll conclude this eulogy here.