I attended the funeral of a grandfather last night; an elderly man who was ill for some time. A few months ago he said goodbye to his wife of many years, his ‘ole doll’ as his granddaughter said. I didn’t know this man, nor his wife, but I do know his granddaughter. As I entered the funeral home I spotted her and duly sympathised, before going to the top of the funeral home to further sympathise with his adult children.
I knew he had had a large family but I’d not appreciated what large really looks like. I myself have four children and know of friends with five, which is what I’d consider large. As I shook hands with his many daughters I then saw lined up his many sons, all suited up for the occasions. I’m not sure the total number of children, but certainly more than ten. As I walked away I wondered about this man I never knew.
All too often we look at the elderly and do not see past their fragility, light frame, wrinkled skin and hair that has lost it’s colour. We forget the life they lived. This man must have had the heart of a lion. He and his wife, had reared a very large family, working hard outside and inside the home. What stories his children must have shared as they bid him adieu? How proud he must have been if he had been able to see his life’s work gathered together to see him off. A long life, lived to the full.
As I walked away I began to rethink what I had done that evening. I had come to offer my sympathies to his granddaughter, but I had gone away having paid my respects to this gentleman. A man who left a large legacy in his wake. Not money or property, but a big family, who will continue to be influenced by him despite his absence.
A thought came to my mind of an elderly lady I nursed once. She had the heartiest cigarette fueled laugh. One of the nurses on the ward was pregnant with her fifth child and when this lady discovered that fact she laughed out loud saying, ‘Jesus love, would you ever relax, surely you’ve done enough for your country now’.
As I sit here typing I think, ‘Fair play to you Jack, you and your ‘ole doll’, certainly have done enough for your country’. I came to offer your family my sympathies, I left having paid my respect.
photo credit: Gerald Shakes Funeral via photopin
20 thoughts on “Paying my respects.”
Beautiful! He looked like a sweet old man. What a full life he must have lived.
Thank you. Actually it’s not a photo of Jack but I’ve seen ones of him and I thought this was a good match. Not exactly for how he looks but for his character.
Family is the only legacy of worth, Tric. It’s always good to be reminded of it in the faces of the generations that follow. My mum saw nineteen grandchildren (7 of them mine! definitely done enough for my country now!) and when I think of the offspring to come it amazes me how the tree keeps growing. Does the heart good. This is a lovely reminder.
Wow seven children. What a gang. You’ve done plenty for your country too! That’s a very large tree you have growing.
How wonderful that you went to console your young friend even though you did not know him. Many don’t go if they didn’t know the deceased. I was raised to go to console the living left behind by the deceased as you did. i’m glad I’m not the only one that was raised that way.
In Dublin (where I was born) we tend to go only to those we know well but where I live now people go to any funeral they knew one of the family. I like that tradition and support.
I share these sentiments Tric, often throughout my work day. Beautiful tribute.
Thank you. It’s good to have reminders, better still to work with them.
Never mind the heart of a lion, Tric! If he had more than ten children, he must have had the stamina of an ox and the patience of a saint. Sounds like he had a very full and interesting life.
Agreed. As they say here, he was ‘some man for one man!’.
Very reflective post, Tric and a lovely, respectful tribute.
I think we underestimate the life that one single person represents and the size of an imprint they leave on this earth….the tears, joys, accomplishments, hardships, stories and legacies…that carry on in those they leave behind. It reminds me of the song by The Rankins, “We Rise Again”. It always brings me to tears.
I’ve to google that song but I will do.
What a long interesting life he must have lived, and a huge legacy to leave behind. I agree we do totally underestimate and appreciate the elderly and all they have achieved and experienced.
It is wonderful to know that his family were around him through to the end. Your analysis of how we see the aged struck me in particular – every time I go to the old Peep’s home to see my mum-in-law, I always wonder about the history of the other residents there. Many of them don’t speak any more, and some no longer remember who they are. They look so lonely, and it makes me feel awful to think that so many families just phone once a week and leave them to watch time tick by. One old man was told by a nurse that his daughter wanted him to stop calling her all the time; it was awful.
I read your reply yesterday (not able to reply until today, sorry) but I couldn’t get that last sentence out of my head. How incredibly sad, he was her Dad!
THat’s what he replied, adding that if she would just call him from time to time, he wouldn’t keep interrupting her with a ringing phone at the wrong time… He’s a really grumpy thing, but I understand why.
We do tend to think of the elderly as always being elderly and forget that they lived their lives, laughed and felt pain and heartache as well as laughter and joy. Thanks for your beautiful tribute to a life well lived.
Yes. Looking in he was an old man, but his family saw him as so much more than that.
the elderly are amazing, as are little ones, both groups really embrace life fully. i love his picture so much.
You are so right the elderly and children are exactly the same in their approach to life. I hope to be that person one day too, with any luck.
You came away with such lovely thoughts from this farewell. This man has certainly left an amazing legacy and has definitely done enough for his country! May he rest peacefully…..