Not the usual blog content, and if you normally just read for the games, I won’t be offended if you give this post a swerve.
My Dad passed away on the 18th May 2022. My heart is broken, but like everyone who has experienced loss, we find ways to keep going.
I wrote a short eulogy for the funeral, which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to read on the day but I did want to share something. The vicar giving the service, Reverend Christine, invited me to email it to her in advance, and that she would read it if I didn’t think I could. Thanks in part to the kind words from Christine in reply to my email, and to a small dram of pre-church whisky, I did manage to read it. I’m proud of myself for getting through it, and grateful to everyone who took the time afterwards to tell me I’d done well. I’m glad because it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and knowing I could do it makes the idea of future public speaking feel a bit less daunting. So thanks Dad, still helping me be a better man even now.
What follows is the text I wrote for the day, shared simply because I want to keep it.
Growing up my Dad and I were always close, inevitably perhaps as the only boys in a household of 5 women. He was always supportive and encouraging of my interests and hobbies, however fleeting they may be, and if he was disappointed that my career as a professional cricketer never took off, he hid it well.
When 20 years ago I moved away to the South Coast, we stayed in regular contact via lengthy telephone conversations. We talked sports and I picked his brain for DIY help, as he in turn picked mine for help with the family computers. I would find myself watching reruns of Star Trek or the sitcom Cheers to feel closer to him, and Dad developed a love for American Football to share in my own enthusiasm. The day he came with me to watch an NFL game at Twickenham is a day we both treasured.
However, we didn’t always agree. When we talked politics or current affairs we’d often find ourselves opposed. His views leaned towards small c conservative, and well. Well I’m slightly to the left of Karl Marx… Anyway, whenever I would come back to Stoke for a visit, we always found time for a discussion / debate, that would sometimes get heated, but I know he enjoyed them as much as I did. Not so sure my Mum was as keen, and preferred to take herself away at these times.
The memory I wanted to share today though, was from one of these discussions back in 2013. It was a Sunday, and Mum was out at church. We talked all morning, at times arguing, other times putting the world to rights. Eventually though we bought it to a close, we both stood up and my Dad gave me a hug and he said to me, I’ll never forget this, he said to me:
“Son, I can’t tell you how proud I am, you’ve moved away and made yourself a great life down South. You’ve become your own man with your own views and opinions, and I’m just so proud. Even though obviously those views and opinions are all wrong.”
And that there is one of my favourite memories of him. I know I’m so lucky to have had a Dad who never missed an opportunity to tell me that he loved me, or how proud he was of me, but in that moment is the man many of you will recognise, and the man I am proud to call Dad.