Wednesday 25th May would have been my fathers 81st birthday.
His passing on 17th December last year devastated the entire family. Although we, as a family, had realised that he wouldn’t be here for much longer, the swiftness of his passing came as a shock to us all.
Now, 6 months on from that day, and a year almost to the day since we celebrated his 80th birthday on a glorious, warm, sunny day, we come to the first anniversary of his birth that he won’t be here for. For the first time that I can remember I won’t be able to give him a ring today and wish him a Happy Birthday.
I will raise a glass to you later today, to my father, my friend, my mentor, the man who would back me up in anything I chose to do no matter how daft it seemed at the time, whose unwavering belief in not only me, but all of, first his children and then grandchildren, whose knowledge, imagination, wit, and above all, personality, left it’s mark on everyone he met.
I will also think of my mum today. After over 50 years together she has found herself without her husband and soulmate. I speak to her regularly, and although she is finding it tough, there is a resilience there, the same she has shown throughout the last few years, years which have been hard on us all due to my fathers failing health.
On Saturday, there are 2 commemorations for my father, one taking place in Peasedown St John near Bath where my parents have lived for the last 28 years, and one in North Berwick.
In Peasedown St John, the bulk of my fathers ashes are being interred at the new Memorial Garden in the local cemetery. The gold lettering on the black granite plaque will read:-
Derek James Thomas Kennedy
25 05 1935 – 17 12 2015
In loving memory of a
Husband, Dad & Grandad
In North Berwick, I will be scattering a small portion of his ashes. I have invited a few very close friends, and after a lunch in one of the local pubs, we’ll be heading to the mouth of the harbour, where not only the ashes but also a ‘Message In A Bottle’ will be released. The message contains the a fragment of a poem (shown below), and a link to some web pages further detailing my fathers life (which can be found here.)
There are 2 small portions of ashes remaining. Some years ago, my father signed up for a memorial tree in Leicestershire, and one set will be going there. The final set will be heading to Wales, where my father was evacuated to during WW2. Even now, he continues to travel the world!
Life will never be the same for us. A big hole appeared last December that can never be filled.
Happy Birthday dad. I miss the calls, the comedy, the wisdom. Thank you for everything you gave me, and everything you mean to me.
Brief were my days among you, and briefer still the words I have spoken.
But should my voice fade in your ears, and my love vanish in your memory, then I will come again,
And with a richer heart and lips more yielding to the spirit will I speak.
Yea, I shall return with the tide,
And though death may hide me, and the greater silence enfold me, yet again will I seek your understanding.
Taken from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), the full version of which can be found here – this snippet is from the final section, ‘The Farewell’.