Ruth's eulogy for her Grandpa

For me, and for my cousins, Grandpa was first and foremost a source of fun and laughter and thrills.

Our earliest memories are of desperately wanting to be old enough to be allowed to ride the tractor and trailer as Grandpa deliberately drove across the biggest bumps and ruts in the path to rattle us about.

Or hand in air, jumping up and down on the spot, shouting ‘me, me, me’ because we wanted to ride home to Jacobs in Grandpa’s car where he would tear down lanes and deliberately wiggle the wheel so we would slide from side to side in the back seat.

They are of being taught to ride a zip wire, dive into the pool, leg wrestle, to be 12 or 13 and to drive a car around the field, to be fiercely competitive about card games like Chasslass and racing demon - in fact to be fiercely competitive about any game, or any activity.

And of course it was not just us grandchildren who benefited from Grandpa’s love of fun. His cousin Mary remembers being allowed to sit on the front of a motorbike as Grandpa and his brothers sped around a home made motorbike track at Hurst. His sons might remember the ten bob note trick and we’ve all heard the story of the kite, Tom and the tractor.

Anita - who used to come and clean for Grandpa - tells a wonderful tale of bringing her kids with her and giving them strict instructions to not mess about and to be on their best behaviour. But of course Grandpa had other ideas and showed the kids the table in the sitting room that turns into a pair of steps and explained how us grandchildren had spent hours climbing to the top and jumping off. All of Anita’s instructions to behave - out the window in an instant.

Misbehaving and breaking the rules was another speciality of Grandpa’s. My dad remembers being taken to Gstaad skiing with Rob and Trev and, on the way, Grandpa telling them how they had to be on their best behaviour and good little ambassadors for Britain. A few days later Grandpa was showing them to do exactly that by pouring ketchup on the very tolerant ski guide’s bald head. The boys were in hysterics while Granny pretended to be cross.

There were some rules which Grandpa took great pleasure in breaking. Speed limits for instance - the last time he went out in a car, just a few weeks ago, he got himself yet another speeding ticket. And the smoking ban - Grandpa, being the wiley negotiator he was, managed to persuade the owners of his favourite establishments such as the Yeti to make an exception for him and his cigar. Much to the annoyance of Russian oligarchs who didn’t understand why they weren’t given similarly special treatment.

As well as being a huge source of fun and thrills and rule breaking, Grandpa will be remembered by all of us as incredibly generous. And not in a showy way - although those skiing holidays were amazing - and a seriously expensive habit to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

But he was also generous in a very understated, day-to-day way - generous with his time, his wisdom, his home and much else besides. Sons and grandchildren - we’ve all brought friends, boyfriends, girlfriends to Jacobs where they have been welcomed with open arms. And come 7pm - the blessed hour - Grandpa would be busying himself making sure that everyone had exactly the drink they wanted before getting the claret out for dinner, telling a good yarn or two and, finally, getting to beat a brand new victim at cards.

What was so lovely about Grandpa was the kindness and care he showed for people who crossed his path - even if it was someone he had only met once or twice. Earlier this year, one of the brothers brought an old school friend to Jacobs and, at some point in the weekend, Grandpa pulled out the old visitor books where he had in advance marked the times when this friend had visited as a child.

What has been fascinating in preparing this eulogy is finding out that it was how Grandpa dealt with people which played a big part in his business success. I had always thought he was so immensely successful because he was incredibly clever, was meticulous in his attention to detail, and a complete whizz with numbers. He was certainly all those things - and they definitely played a part in his success - but his friends and colleagues in business talk first and foremost about Grandpa’s integrity and honesty and his sense of responsibility and duty for his clients and colleagues.

Being his grandchild, we all knew that he would shower us with kindness, love and generosity. Even if he disagreed with you on something - and I’m a feminist, socialist, with a gay dad, so we disagreed a lot - he would shower you with kindness and love nevertheless. But I didn’t know before how that extended beyond family - and speaking to his friends and business colleagues has given me a new found respect for him and how he lived his life.

Although Grandpa had a very long and very happy life, it is heartbreaking that we can no longer have the pleasure and joy of his company or the benefit of his kindness and wisdom. I find it very difficult to think I will never again be able to come into the sitting room to find Grandpa in his chair, playing one of his endless games of solitaire or having a nap. And he won’t be here to tell one of the boys off for not shaving; or look anxiously at his watch because it’s 2 minutes past 8 and dinner still hasn’t been served.

The only consolation is that he passed on so much to us. When I think of any of my uncles and cousins, I can see Grandpa running through them. They’re all lovers of fun and mischief, they’re independently minded and don’t always stick to the rules, they are definitely a bit competitive, they’re generous and kind, they’re all honest and incredibly trustworthy.

And the biggest thing of all that he - and Granny - passed on to us was the amazing and inspiring example of two people who loved and cared for each other so so deeply. In fact, talking about Grandpa without talking about Granny is like talking about half a person. The way they always thought about what the other wanted or needed, the little squeeze of hands as they passed each other, the very sweet kisses good night which were said with real care and attention every single evening. Those will be my abiding memories of Grandpa and Granny.

And although it is heartbreaking that I will never get to see that little squeeze of hands ever again, it was even more heartbreaking to know how very much Grandpa missed her over the last two years. So, I take huge comfort from knowing that they’re no longer separated. And I also take comfort knowing that they had a wonderful life making each other and many others incredibly happy. And, finally, I take comfort because I know they have passed their love and joy and kindness on to all of us.

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful eulogy - I encourage a family member to provide burial entries on the "Find A Grave" website. It can be a bit of a squatters nightmare insomuch as complete strangers can write up a burial. I think it best that a family member do so. I am distantly related to Jenifer Keeling (Gibbs). She is my 3rd cousin 1x removed. The Find A Grave site for Sedlescombe can be found at the following URL: I have written a number of them but wanted to give a closer relation the opportunity to write one for your parents.