Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Well, the day that we were dreading came. On Friday 30th May, just before 2am, Reginald McDiarmid, the truest gentleman I know, left this world. My mum rang us at about 1.30am to let us know that he was failing, and she was on her way down the coast to see him, and then rang us again just after she got there ... Nan didn't want to call her while she was driving to let her know, so she waited until Mum arrived to give her the heart breaking news.

We woke the kids to tell them, and they were understandably devestated. Kieran looked up to Pa so much, and it's going to take him a while to fully deal with it I think - as will the rest of us! Kelsey is being a total trooper - yes, she's upset, and she loved her Pa very much, but she's the kind of person who just wants to protect people around her, so she's being a little legend, trying to cheer Tayla up and keep her mind off it. Tayla ...well, she's only 5, and she has lost her best mate. She knows that she won't see him again, and that she won't ever have another big Pa hug, but every so often over the past few days she just breaks down in tears, saying "I want my Pa!" They were really best mates - the rest of us felt a little bit left out sometimes, I think, as they shared their special moments! Ok, not really left out - but I'm eternally grateful that she has so many wonderful memories to cherish of her relationship with the best man I know.

I don't want to sugar coat it - Pa wasn't all peaches and cream. He's coped with so much in the past couple of decades, it's really a miracle that he'd lasted this long. His personality had changed somewhat, as a result of a brain tumour a while ago, and that meant that there were times when he was grumpy, obnoxious, and a general pain in the butt. Mostly, though, he was a legend. Last year, Nan had to have surgery to repair a macular hole in her eye, and I was Pa's taxi for the day. We got to wander around the city for a while, as we waited for Nan to come out of surgery. Pa is the kind of man, even at 79 and frail, who would gently take my elbow and steer me to the inside of the footpath, so that he was between me and the road, just in case he needed to fend off any stray cars to protect me. Half the time, I didn't even realise he was doing it, till all of a sudden I was on the other side of him, wondering how I got there!

He was a man who knew the value of a good joke.... and thought that a suitably bad joke was priceless. Some of his jokes and stories are forever a part of our family legacy, and I'm so grateful that after the funeral yesterday, we got a chance to reminisce about some of those. There was a lot of laughter, and that's just the way Reggie would have wanted it.

I'll never be able to look at my knees again without thinking of my Pa - he had this habit of creating a rhyme for all his grandkids, and mine was "Tamara Louise with the knobbly knees". We all will cherish that, as much as we used to complain when he called us by our extended names when we were growing up.

I've only been to a few funerals in my lifetime, and only 4 of people that were very close to me. This one was the hardest that I've experienced, but at the same time the most beautiful. Nan and Pa's next door neighbours have 2 sons who were pretty much family. We'd hang out when we were on holidays, and I know that the Clancy's regard Nan and Pa as part of their extended family. It was a total honour, then, that Steven conducted the service with the celebrant at the crematorium. It was so moving that someone who knew Reg was speaking about his impact on those around him. Thanks, Steven, you made a very difficult time much more bearable.

My uncle spoke on behalf of Nan, my mum and my Aunty, and I was so choked up. Uncle Pete is a genuine nice bloke, and I haven't seen a lot of him in recent years, but I haven't ever seen a tear in his eye before yesterday, let alone heard him struggling to speak through his sorrow. My sister and I were speaking on behalf of the grandkids, and had to follow Uncle Pete ... that was a difficult task. We had decided we wanted to really focus on what a great guy he was - all our memories about Pa revolve around the tricks, and the jokes, and the funny times, so we spoke a lot about those things - the memories of our Pa that we will cherish for a lifetime and beyond. It was hard, but we got through it with our heads held high, and by the end there were a lot of smiles and chuckles in honour of a man who loved to make people laugh. I hope I made you proud, Pa!

My kids wanted to contribute something to our speech, and that was probably the hardest thing for me. Lorraine and I read a paragraph each, and the way it worked out was that I got to read Kieran's paragraph, which was the first of the great grandkids' comments. I almost lost it then - mostly because I saw his eyes fill up with renewed tears when he heard me say his name. Here is what my kids wrote about their Pa...

Kieran says:
I love Pa. every time I shook his hand he wouldn't let go. He would keep shaking for about 90 seconds. Sometimes my hand would go numb! So, every time someone shakes my hand I'll think of Pa shaking my hand till it was about to fall off, and all the good times we had together. Although he is not here, he will never let go of me.

Kelsey says:
I love my Pa so much. I will always remember him. He would always try to tell me that there was something on my top, and when I would look, he would tap me on the nose. Every time I would say "there's nothing there", and he would say "there is this time, go on, look, just there!" I would know that there was nothing there but I would still look, and he'd get my nose every time. Every time anyone touches my nose, I'll think of Pa trying to get me again.

Tayla says:
Pa is my best buddy. He always plays tricks on me. He would get me to start saying the alphabet, and said "A". I'd say "B", and he would say "I hope he stings you before me!" He would give me the best hugs and kisses, and tickled me all the time. He liked to make me laugh. He is living in my heart now, and every time I laugh, that's my Pa being glad that I'm happy.

Little legends, aren't they?

The final paragraph of our eulogy was written thanks to some inspiring words from Allison, an online friend from LSBS. I closed by saying this:

Pa was a one in a million – they broke the mould when he came along, and the world could do with more men like him. It comforts me to know that he’s probably up there right now, not just rebuilding that mould, but finding a way to make it better – if anyone could, it’s our Pa. We all have many fond memories of our Pa, and they’ll be with us for the rest of our lives. He is a very special person who will always have a special place in our hearts.

Thanks Allison, it was really a perfect thought for my Pa.

I went for a viewing yesterday morning before the funeral, and anyone who has done this will understand when I say that it was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I was expecting... well, actually I don't know what I was expecting. But I'm glad I did it. Wasn't expecting Pa's hands to be so cold, and afterwards I realised how stupid that was - I don't know why I was shocked when I touched them. Somehow, it was him, but it wasn't, if that makes sense ... I'm still trying to process it in my head, but at least I wasn't focusing on what was in that big brown box at the front when I was speaking, so that was a blessing. This picture is how I prefer to remember Pa ... with Tay sitting on his lap, where she invariably was when he was around!

His coffin had a gorgeous photo of him sitting on it - not in a suit, which seemed a little wrong, but in a flanalette shirt and jumper, laughing at someone off camera. His beloved Tigers jersey was draped over the top, and his other favourite posessions, a "Best Buddies" beanie bear Tay gave him for christmas, and a necklace Kieran gave him for luck in the hospital, were also on there. We had brought some roses, and at the end of the service the celebrant gave us a moment to lay a flower on the coffin if we wanted to. My kids were the first ones up - Tayla kissed her hand and touched Pa's footy jumper, which was such a sweet thing to do. It made me really proud of them, and fairly certain that they are going to be ok - they are all handling it ok, although very differently to each other.

How am I handling it? That's a great question. Ok, I think. I'm looking forward to some "alone" time to just cry for a while, but it's hard because whenever Tayla sees me upset, she loses it again, and I don't know if that's really helping her. So I'm being strong while I need to, and hanging out for Dennis to have a few days off work - he's working every day for the next three weeks, as his Assistant Manager is on holidays, so it took a lot of shuffling for him to get yesterday off work for the funeral. My sister is going to look after the kids on Sunday, and I'm catching up with some girlfriends to see Sex and the City ... it's kind of obligatory to see that with a group of girlfriends, isn't it?

So, back to work tomorrow, and I've got a massive pile of paperwork to catch up on, plus reports to write for both year 7 and 8. Life goes on, huh? Today, Kieran headed off to Canberra for a GAT excursion, and I drove Kelsey to Springwood to catch up with her class - she was supposed to go on her very first camp yesterday, for 3 days, so she missed the first day, but was excited to get there this morning. It's been pouring down rain though, so fingers crossed it's not too miserable for her. Tayla and I, after all the running around this morning, have been just veging out in front of the TV. I've been scrapping a little bit -getting a sample layout for a this weekend's cybercrop at ScrapTherapy ready. It's all about the bling this month, so if you are interested in a great weekend of scrapping, pop over to the forums and say hi!

Well, that's about it for today ... I just really wanted to get some of that down while it was fresh in my head. Thanks heaps to everyone who has been popping by and leaving comments of support, or emailing me or posting on forums. I appreciate it more than you know.


tracywyldman said...

PT I am so sorry for your family's loss, words cannot say what is meant.
Thank goodness you have fond memories to cherish.
HUGGS to you sweet
Trac x

Julie said...

Have been thinking of you and your family PT.

Big hugs Missy.

Narelle said...

Big Hugs PT.

Beautiful words you have written- hope they help you to deal with how you are feeling.

Stray strong when you need to, and cry openly when you can, and know that your friends are here to support you any way we can.

helenj said...

Sounds like a beautiful send off to a beautiful man PT.......hope you are doing ok as time goes on
Keep all those memories close to your heart darl x