Preparations for days like these are challenging, especially given the numbness that descends in the surreal atmosphere of the days immediately following the death of a loved one.
It is a blessing, I suppose, that there is such a daunting list of things to be done.
Well, we got here relatively smoothly, and the fact that it went so smoothly is, I think, a credit to dad's example to his family.
His sons, faced with an intimidating task, focussed instead on what was practical and important: saying our personal farewells to dad, arranging todays ceremonies and ensuring that mum was, and will continue to be, supported.
Unfortunately for me, the email obituary we composed between us now contains a number of the phrases I had originally planned to use today. Surely, though, in a life as rich and unceasingly industrious as dad's, there is a bottomless well of subject matter.
But, how do you write a eulogy? It's not as if, fates willing, we get to practice very regularly.
What do you mention? What do you omit?
How long do you monopolise the podium for..............................?
Given that eulogies are, by their nature, subjective, do all the sterling qualities or amusing anecdotes we cite have to be strictly accurate and verifiable? Indeed, does the government have a committee for 'Eulogical' Veracity yet?
...sorry, just checking for cameras...
Indeed, how appropriate are amusing anecdotes and jokes?
I recall, for instance, being, as any child would be, in awe of my dad's consummate skills as a handyman. I picture him even now, manfully rubbing down a second floor window frame, his ladder, in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work act of... 1874, was firmly planted on the somewhat damp and slightly algae covered flagstones of our backyard in New Longton. To this ten year old child, he was the very Michaelangelo of the Mortar; the Picasso of Putty, the Cezanne of Sanding Down.
I eventually pulled myself away and stepped indoors.
Shortly after, we were startled by the sound of aluminium clattering against unyielding york stone accompanied by a muted curse.
We rushed out to find that dad's modest Sistine Chapel had ungratefully rejected his scaffolding.
We found him sitting, for the most part, on the now horizontal, and neatly folded, ladder.
He had, we learned soon after, broken his leg in the fall, but with a strangely puzzled frown reminiscent of the best Clint Eastwood movies, he spat out the now empty filter of his Senator cigar, and growled “Anyone seen me glasses?”
He was one tough cookie, our dad.
The departure of ones we cared for will always give us pause for recollection and reflection not just on their lives but on how our own lives were affected by having crossed theirs.
I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that for many of us here today, having this man's presence in our lives has, in one way or another, made us better people in our own.
He was, to me, a man with his own unwavering code of duty, courage, faith and personal values.
Dad, you never were much of a one for lie-ins but, along with the rewards your beliefs promise you, I wish you peace now and a well-deserved rest.