It’s five years since my Dad died.
Five years since I realised people saying, “Sorry for your loss,” “Thinking of you,” or “Keeping you in my prayers” (especially if they are not praying people) doesn’t help make you feel better. From my experience, “Sorry for your loss,” is one of the most trite and useless phrases in English language.
So I’m sharing today the reflection my siblings and I read at the funeral service. It’s the hardest public speaking I’ve ever done. We had to take it in turns to speak because none of us had the strength to read the whole thing alone.
So here it is, a reflection in honour the man who taught me the fine art of scraping clean a jam/Vegemite/peanut butter jar.
S: John Stone was an ordinary man. He was born into an ordinary family, growing up in Fortitude Valley with his brother Michael and sister, Maureen. He served his country during World War II in the Fifth Division Australian Infantry Force but was not decorated or mentioned in dispatches.
R: He started his working life at a dry cleaner’s, and after the war worked as a postman and as a Clerk for the Post Master General and Telecom. He lived his family life as an ordinary man in an ordinary suburb. Apart from his birth and his marriage, his name was never mentioned in the newspapers. But to his family John Stone was an extraordinary man.
L: All his life he worked hard for his family and was a good provider. He was a kind and patient man and a faithful and loving husband to Beryl. He paid his taxes – to the cent! And every bill was paid in full, well in advance of its due date. He paid for Catholic education for his family of four even if there was not that much money left over after the bills were paid.
M: He attended his church services regularly while his health was good. He was a man with a sense of duty. Throughout his life he seemed to have a sense of contentment; he never had grand expectations and was happy with whatever he received. He always kept abreast of what was happening in the world; he read the newspaper daily from cover to cover until his eyesight failed him and in his 80s he even developed an interest in computers. In his late 60s he surprised us all by joining a Uniting Church tour to Far North Qld and Thursday Island.
S: He was always considerate and polite to others and even when in hospital and at the nursing home when very ill, he joked with the nurses and thanked them for his care. He frequently told us “Don’t worry about your old Dad” and “Take care of yourself.” Even when discharged from hospital he would disappear for a few minutes to say goodbye to the others in his ward and wish them the best. Through this, he taught us how to deal with struggles and illness and how to always think of others.
R: His grandchildren were always on his mind. He would always inquire about their health and would send them his love. His love of words and language made him a formidable opponent at Scrabble and even with his short term memory loss he could supply “puerile” as the answer for that tricky crossword clue.
L: People may not have seen him as a funny man, but those close to him were familiar with his dry, quirky sense of humour and the jokes that would take you a couple of minutes to catch onto. He was a gentle man, a caring Dad, a devoted husband, a loving grandfather and someone we will miss greatly.
M: He was no saint, he had his stubborn moments, and was prone to quote “Clancy of the Overflow” at unusual times, but he always inspired us to not let him down. John Stone was an exceptional man, and we have been blessed that we can call him our Dad. The world is much less for us with his passing.