Lets model our sandcastles to our dreams 

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Dad smiling sitting on a cliff facing the ocean around Land's End in Cornwall, UK

Dad passed away on August 4th, 2012 and below is the eulogy I delivered for his funeral, on Wednesday August 15th, 2012 at Penmount, Truro.

When I was a child, the summer break was the highlight of the year, and it still is. Things are easier, more relaxed, no strict schedules, and the days are longer. The highlight of the summer was our family holiday. It wasn’t uncommon for us to leave for 4 weeks somewhere, and have a real break.

I have always enjoyed our family vacations in the South of France, in the Alps or in Cornwall. We use to leave in the middle of the night to avoid the holiday season traf!c jams, stop for breakfast in some pretty little village, and drive on for hours on hours, singing, playing games, or simply looking out of the car’s window.

During the time we owned a station wagon, I use to help Dad to store all the luggage on the roof and leave the available boot space for my sister and me to sleep in. We had beds setup and could watch the stars through the rear window half asleep dreaming about our !nal destination.

Times were different. Parents smoked in the car, wore hair laque, didn’t wear seat belts and drove the windows open. Petrol wasn’t unleaded and you didn’t need a degree in computer engineering to understand (or explain) how a car worked. It was mostly my Dad who drove, or at least until I got my driving license when he shared the steering wheel with me.

He was that kind of dad.

The kind who spends time with his children, plays with them and builds sandcastles on the beach. He entered as much our world as he invited us into his.

I have fond memories of our sandcastles. They were elaborate, extensive, almost engineered. They were inspiring, with a story to tell. They stood up to time and tide, and we fought together to resist the repeated assaults of the waves.

My Dad was a strong man, dark hair, broad shoulders, and large tanned hands that smelt of brown tobacco. He always greeted you with a wide smile and dark shining eyes. I felt that nothing was impossible for me and my dad.

In the summer, he used to join us after work at the swimming pool, to fool around with us in the water, enjoying the end of a hot summer’s day. We ate chips and stayed until the pool closed.

I loved it when he picked me up from school on a Saturday morning (yes, we used to go to school on Saturday mornings back then), having done the market with Mum, we both drove home and eat a “petit paté“ (sausage roll) at the kitchen table.

Sometimes, he use drop me off at school on a rainy morning, if I got up early enough. I use to sit in front next to him, while we both listened silently to the radio morning news.

Those were precious ordinary shared moments.

He was that kind of dad.

My Dad taught me lots of things, both little and big:

  • how to choose the proper twiggs and branches to light a bon!re to roast sausages, how to tell where the north was on your wristwatch based on the position of the sun, how to shave, when I was 15,
  • how to drive, when I was 18,
  • how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew,
  • he seemed to know all the rules of all the sports, and could explain them to you,
  • he loved boards games, especially the strategy kind, where patience and logic prevail,

My Dad was pragmatic and organised with a logical mindset.
He had a special relationship with numbers. He could see through them and they sung back to him in ways most of us will never experience.

We shared a lot:

  • my Dad always enjoyed a good meal, especially a meat one
  • a glass of beer after work,
  • a good action !lm, or paperback,
  • a cup of coffee (and a cigarette) on a sunny morning while reading the daily newspaper on holiday. While my sister and I read our comics, sipped a fruit juice,
  • he knew a lot about the 20th century’s history, and the World Wars,

He was that kind of dad.

My Dad always backed me up - whatever my choices were.
To study science at college, and then biology at University, or in !nding ways to avoid having to do the compulsory Swiss Army, eventhough he’d served his days, and I loved hearing the funny stories he had to tell,

My Dad was early on the Personal Computer bandwagon. I remember him talking about it early 1980, and introducing me to that brave new world after work or on Sundays. I learned my !rst programming language afterhours in his of!ce. My current skills in web design are partly rooted in those long hours I spent in his of!ce on his PC. He would give the keys and I would drive down and spend hours coding, and trying out things on his workstation.

He was that kind of dad.

Now, I build sandcastles with my own children, try to spend as much time with them as I can, and slip into their world when they let me in. But I strap them in the car. There’s no luggage on the roof or free roaming around the car while driving on the motorways. But we still play “I spy with my little eye”..

Time wore out my dad in the same way the tide waves wore out our sandcastles. And it’s dif!cult to accept. For me, he’ll always be the strong and shiny sandcastle, with several layers of carefully crafted outer walls and lots of decorative shells, bravely resisting the tide waves. I remember leaving the beach in the late afternoon, dreaming of the castle being there the next day.

It turns out it was more important to dream it, than to actually !nd it there the following day.

I believe we de!ne ourselves throughout our lives by our actions and our choices, by what we try to accomplish, by who we love and care for, as well as by our dreams and generosity.

Lets live our lives fully, today, here and now. Lets be generous with others and with ourselves.

Lets model our sandcastles to our dreams.

Love you Dad ❤︎

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