I didn’t want to speak at my Granddad’s funeral. I thought it would be self-indulgent. And I guess it was – who am I to be the mouthpiece for our grief? Especially as I don’t think I’ve started to grieve yet. I just feel… numb. Like I’m suspended in this strange second world, where everything is slightly too bright and there’s a constant low-level hum in my ears.
I didn’t cry at the funeral. I wobbled, but the tears didn’t come. I actually laughed a few times. It didn’t feel real. Even when I stood up to speak, I could hear my voice, but felt removed from it.
I stood in front of a packed crematorium and used these words to talk about the man we all loved. I read it back now and want change it. I’ll read it again tomorrow and want to change it again. It’ll never be right.
But it is what it is.
“Until yesterday, I’d only ever written one thing for Granddad. I was younger than my daughter is now and he was going to hospital for a major operation. I was so frightened of losing him that I wrote a note to tell him that he wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. When I visited him after the op I was scared, but he understood and made me feel better. Even though he was probably feeling like hell.
After that, to me — a tiny child who had never even had a tooth out — he was invincible.
I used to watch him get ready before he went to the pub at the weekend. He’d stand in front of the mirror in his vest, make a careful inspection of his face and reach for the electric razor. I remember thinking that he was the most handsome man in the world. I’d sit on his shoulders while he read the papers and pester him endlessly – “what does that say? What does that mean?”. If he ever raised his voice, I don’t remember. In fact, I don’t think I ever even saw him cross. Which is a miracle in itself because I was a terrible pain in the arse.
Decades later, I got to see him with my daughter and watched history repeat itself. The silly jokes and daft faces, the cuddles, “the bestest singing in the whole wide world” and another tiny person who touched his face, asked him question after question, kissed him on the nose and thought the absolute world of him.
Granddad loved his family — Norah and Joyce, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. And they loved him right back. He once told me that despite every loss and sadness in his life, he was the luckiest man alive. He knew that the amount of love he found in one lifetime was priceless and it’s where he found happiness.
And of course, no one is really invincible. But the people in this room will be thinking about him and talking about him for many decades to come. It’s a rare and wonderful thing — and I think it’s about as near to invincible as anyone can get.”