and this is what I wrote. But I couldn't stand at the funeral and say it - I would have been a snivelling wreck. As it was I barely managed to hold myself together.
"Funny - today, Dad feels more 'here' than he has for a while for me. Because we are all here because of him. He'd hate that. Too much attention. He wasn't an attention seeking person.
The trouble with Dad was that he was always wandering off. So for us, it is almost as if he is just 'away'…in Ethiopia. Uganda. South Africa. Abu Dhabi. For months at a time sometimes. And he wasn't exactly 'Mr Noisy'. He was a quiet person. A hard working man. It wasn't that he didn't talk a lot; [he did if the subject took his fancy - you couldn't shut him up!] but he wasn't loud. He was very intelligent and he was obsessive about the English language being pronounced and spelt correctly - so I am definitely using spell and grammar check after I type this! I remember him always correcting me when I was younger [and when I was not so young!]. It was a norm in our conversation. He had a perfect grasp of the tongue. I grew grateful for it in latter years, as it made me an excellent proof reader and copy writer. Thanks Dad - all that nagging paid off. Especially the 'rough terrain' vehicle thing - which, having only read the words, I always pronounced as 'rough ter-ee-an'…heh heh - [much to Dad's horror]. By the way, the vehicle in question was Pete's Action Man vehicle!
I remember him giving us our 'places' during the earthquakes in Papua New Guinea. One to hold the fridge, one the carving etc. And I recall him fighting a huge spider with a broom - and the beastly thing would NOT die - the rest of us hid behind a door fainting away as he battled it in his safari shorts, long socks and Caterpillar boots. It kept running up the handle at him! But he prevailed - as Dad's always do…arriving to rescue us when the school bus got stuck in the middle of a rapidly flooding river…taking splinters out - and it didn't hurt…
I recall his massive reel to reel tape of the Beatles - everyone would sit around having a drink and chatting, with the White Album blaring away in the background…and I remember David, the baby at the time, cutting his teeth on empty beer cans, while the Dad's sat around waffling and the Mum's did 'stuff' [like provide food and more beer and control the kids].
Dad was always there to ask things of. Unless it was a domestic - then he's just do the 'ask your Mum' thing. And Mum would say 'ask your Dad'… But if it was a question about something important, well, we didn't ever have an Encyclopaedia Britannica - we didn't need one - we had Dad. And Dad didn't have Google. He just knew stuff.
He was well read, well educated, kind. He was not a complicated man. He was a great Dad. We had everything we ever really wanted - the bikes at Christmas, the holidays, the swimming pool, the pet dog…we travelled, and it made us brave - we had an idyllic childhood spent all over the world - thanks Dad. And thanks Mum - a great team. And an enviable marriage, through good times and hard times. I hope mine lasts as long. 50 years it would have been. Congratulations.
You'll always be in my heart - you always have been; why would that change now?
You see? I did it.
Here's Dad on Pete's chopper - Christmas was always more fun in Africa…it was WARM!!