Big Bubbles (no troubles)

What sucks, who sucks and you suck

Eulogy to My Father

Colin George Rixon,

## 1939 - 2013

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the Guardian (sorry, Dad) about fifteen - what you might call exceptional - jobs. One of them was an undertaker, which is a vocation that many people would perhaps think of as depressing or morbid. But the guy they interviewed disagreed; he said that he sees people at the worst time in their lives, but that he was privileged to see them at their best.

Well, I’ve seen the best of a lot of people these past weeks and months. I’ve seen the best of family, friends and neighbours, as they rallied round and helped my mum and dad in so many different ways, whether it was running errands, walking the dog or simply being there to lend support or sit with Dad while Mum had a break. We said that he would do a favour for anyone without ever asking for one in return. But we saw these past months how readily people came forward to offer help, and we see it again today as I look out at everyone who is here to help us say goodbye, which is immensely touching. Needless to say, if he were standing here now… he’d probably be mortified.

I’ve seen the best of the medical staff who’ve cared for my dad over the course of his illness, although he’d never particularly bothered them before up to that point in his life. And I saw the best of the team at St Rocco’s Hospice in the gentle respect they showed him and the support they gave us all the way through.

I’ve seen the best of my mum as she cared for Dad during his illness, increasingly so as he became able to do less himself, while keeping the house running and gradually assuming his responsibilities for both of them. I won’t forget the way she stayed by his bedside at the hospice and tended to him, even when he could no longer respond. And I’m moved by how bravely she has borne this loss in the days since, while we’ve been sorting things out. Yes, there has been grief, of course there has, but Mum, I know you will get through this.

Most of all, I saw the best of my dad. Calm, stoical to the end, determined to put his affairs in order, ease the burden on the rest of us and make sure Mum would have ample provision after he was gone. A few days ago, we were sorting through his old clothes. In every pair of trousers and every suit jacket, we invariably discovered a clean handkerchief, usually a comb, maybe some tissues and often a few squares of … toilet paper? Dad always believed in being well-prepared wherever he was going, and swipe me if he was going to make an exception for this day. More than one person told me how much they admired the philosophical manner in which he approached the end; I for one hope to always bear his example in mind.

More than that, I’m always going to bear him in mind. I think most sons start their lives wanting to be their fathers. Then you go through a rebellious stage, and even after that you spend a long time trying to prove the ways in which you’re entirely unlike your father. Then you have children of your own, and you discover precisely all the ways in which you are exactly like your dad. The apple seldom falls far at all from the tree - but maybe that can be a good thing. Speaking for myself, looking around at the world, I can think of worse examples to embrace than a man who quietly, modestly, decently got on with his life, caring and providing for his family, tending his garden, always being at hand to help others, finding simple pleasures in good company, good music or a good walk, until eventually he slipped gently away knowing that he’d always done his best, and yet was greatly missed by so many good friends. We should all be so fortunate one day, don’t you think?

Returning to the undertaker I mentioned at the beginning, he also said: Dying is easy. It’s living that’s bloody hard work. So, although this is a sad occasion, please remember that Colin’s reached the easy part. For the rest of us, our hard work goes on.

Dad, thank you, it was a privilege.

Excerpted from Colin’s funeral service, 10th April 2013