Delivered in the public speaking competition at Toastmaster 22/02/2012
A personal eulogy for my father
Andrew Philip Sandars 1/9/1943-6/1/2012
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling’s understanding of man was forged in the emotional heat of losing his son at the prime of life in World War One. Words can be astonishingly hard to find when one suddenly loses a father before having not yet reached the prime of life. Today’s forties are yesterday’s twenties.
Dad was indeed a man that did not lose his head and frequently talked us calmly through the teething pains of family life, such as our various grazed knees, feelings, and adolescent car prangs. It is always the one that you didn’t see –moving or static!. We did of course see Dad come close to losing his head at times when recipes and dishes teetered on the point of failure, family diary appointments made without being consciously registered until the last minute, and lately when his grandchildren started adding colour to life by running rings around him and pinching the kitchen trolley he used as a mobility aid. No names mentioned, but you know who you are children. To them he was click-clack on account of the noise of his sticks. He loved the children and would play in their imaginary game of rabbits in his herb garden and teach them how to play Angry Birds on his iPad. They thoroughly second me on the iPad.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating….
We all face adversity and my father was no exception. He faced life’s challenges calmly, kindly, wisely, and courageously. He was warm and strong. I never knew him to show a dark side. I never knew him give to a moments hating or treachery. As a father he expected to be informed and would warn and encourage us in our lives, but if he judged he reserved his opinions. We never felt any less loved in our tougher patches. That’s a profound yet silent legacy.
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss…
My parents were the most ambitious climbers of the property ladder that I know of. We lived in wonderful houses that were lovingly raised from rags and ruins into homes. I remember the thrill of discovering all the mysterious rooms… and cellars… and sheds… and attics… and secret gardens, and woods with each new house move. Childhood home was an adventure playground often coated in building works dust. It is only with hindsight that I appreciate how homes, such as White Farmhouse, Wheeler lodge and the Homestead in the Midlands, Mount Howe and Paradise House in Devon, and Jacaranda in Gozo took my parents to their utter limits, which they always resolved with clever resourceful tenacity.
Rudyard Kipling’s man lacks a sense of humour that my father more than made up for. Life was strewn with amusing anecdotes, funny stories, and recently naughty emails. In those moments he was a born again school boy. I will forever remember dad driving me to my first day at Seale-Hayne agricultural college in a car with a blowing exhaust -what an entrance to make in front of one’s new peers given that the college was also up a steep hill!! With a busy household he would often find solace in the loo with his newspaper. As a family we found our first laugh again when we realised he had gracious slid from this world into the next between a great meal out friends and paying the bill. He would have seen the funny side of that!
Rudyard Kipling’s man is an unassuming man that could easily be taken for granted in a busy world by the casual observer. That is not a mistake that we should ever make or I will ever make for my father.
Daniel L Sandars 26/1/2012