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.