Derek James Thomas Kennedy
25th May 1935 – 17th December 2015
In the last years of his life Derek knew that his memory, his once prodigious memory, was also failing and it worried and frustrated him. Perhaps in an attempt to exercise his memory, Derek began to research the family history, and spent long hours delving into the past of some very colourful ancestors.
As his condition worsened when Derek had infections or was unwell he would hallucinate. Sometimes those hallucinations were quite frightening as many of them had their basis in his prolific reading of science fiction so you could imagine some of the Dr Who style scenarios he might have been experiencing.
Derek Kennedy was an intriguing man with a sharp intelligence, a ready wit and a rich imagination. Like many of his generation his life was circumscribed by outside events but he grabbed all the opportunities presented to him and enjoyed the ride.
My father, Derek James, Thomas Kennedy, passed away on the morning of 17th December 2015, aged 80 years and 7 months, at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
The great science fiction author Ray Bradbury once wrote:
“The important thing is not the me that’s lying here, but the me that’s sitting on the edge of the bed looking back at me, and the me that’s downstairs cooking supper, or out in the garage under the car, or in the library reading. All the new parts, they count. I’m not really dying today. No person ever died that had a family.”
Thank you Dad. You were the greatest man I have ever known.
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’.
If you have read this far, thank you. Large parts of the piece you have read come from the eulogy as read at my father’s funeral by Alex Lutton, which was based on a ‘This Is Your Life’ style book created by my sister, Sara, for our father’s 80th birthday.