RAISING A DAD – 19 March 2014

Saying goodbye (pt2)

And so I’ve left home and returned home.

Today was a sad but inspiring occasion.

The church was rammed to capacity as people came to say goodbye to granda. A tribute to a life well lived, the impact he had on his community, and the love for his family (so many people commented on how my nana, mum or aunties had “been there for them” in the past).

I’ve put some of the family tribute below, which focused on the things granda taught us;

He taught us to love music; Behind his beloved organ at The Salvation Army or practising at home in the front room. I think we all used to love hearing him play…I guess though, what was a treat for us could be slightly more of a pain to live with. I remember once being at the house and granda was playing in the front room. His hearing had started to go and so he was playing loud – I could hear nana shouting for him to turn it down and worried that he couldn’t hear her I said “granda nana wants you to turn it down”. Without a seconds hesitation he looked at me and said “I know son I can hear her”

He taught us selective hearing; His selective hearing became the stuff of legend – he could sit in a room and make out he heard nothing to the point where someone would say “he can’t hear a thing” it was at that precise moment he would weigh in with a perfectly timed and sharp as a tack comment that left you in no doubt he heard everything.

He taught us to have a signature dish…granda had not one but two incredible signature dishes – Ginger wine and Irish stew, no one made either quite like him…

He taught us the secrets of a happy marriage; Nana and granda loved each other dearly, they would fight the bit out but their love was real, committed and had stood the test of time…we celebrated 60 years of their marriage this Christmas. You don’t fall into 60 years of marriage and it doesn’t just happen. It takes work, commitment, faithfulness and a love that lasts long beyond the heady days of romance and newness.

Granda was a loving husband to our nana and a proud father of his three girls and the lives they’d each made for themselves with husbands of their own…You only had to see the smile on his face when the family got together…He loved his family and we loved him.

He taught us to serve; granda loved to help others, he served his church for decades…he showed keen generosity to causes that caught his eye, created hanging baskets for family and friends and everywhere he worked or went sought to work for others…He loved to help, he loved to serve and he lived well for others.

And all of this, stemmed from his faith. A quiet but constant presence in his life. A belief in Jesus that he shared with nana and his family and today we recognise he has gone to be with the Heavenly Father he knew and loved.

Granda was not one for deep theological conversation and neither is this moment – but he loved Jesus and was a true disciple, a faithful follower of Christ.

His simple faith, commitment to his family, service of his church and devotion to his community here in Newtownards will remain how he is best remembered.

I believe that after death you leave behind what you lived.

Granda leaves a loving wife, a family united, and four grandsons, three grand daughters in law and two great grandsons who will miss him greatly but will try their best to follow his example into a future that is now a little sadder without him in it.

So today we don’t say goodbye…Besides granda never said goodbye anyway – he would shake your hand or give you a hug and as you left would smile widely and only ever say chi-o

So granda, until we all meet again, we simply say – chi-o

I’ll always be sad that granda never got to meet K, and K never got to meet his great-granda but will make sure he knows all about him and what a great granda he really was.


RAISING A DAD – 18 March 2014

Saying goodbye (pt1)

We’ve flown to Ireland for my granda’s funeral today.

My parents have opened their doors since Friday to allow people to come and join the family.

It’s a peculiar thing about back home but the house becomes a sort of makeshift bakery as people arrive with solemn faces, cards of condolence and 14 cakes all somehow transported in their handbag or coat pockets.

I’ve left my little family at home – with K still at high risk of infection we took the decision to play it safe.

This afternoon, my youngest brother wanted to go to the funeral home to see Granda. And so my other brother and I said we’d all go together. We quietly filed into the room, and stood in silence for a few minutes. Then we prayed together, we thanked God for our granda, for the life he lived and the family he’s left behind.

I love being a big brother – it’s one of the best things in my life without doubt and I’m incredibly proud of both of my brothers and the men they’ve become. I don’t know what the rest of my little family will look like in the future but I hope K gets to experience being a big brother in some way in his life.

Back at the cake shop, it’s not long before we’re sharing memories, smiling, passing around photos of K and remembering granda and the life he lived.

Tomorrow is the funeral…I’ve been asked to give a tribute…hoping I can hold it together.


RAISING A DAD – 10 March 2014

With a bump

I went back to work today.

Two and a half weeks has gone too quickly and it’s time to get back to whatever normal is now.

I was straight back into a studio day, recording comedy inserts for a new documentary series. Everyone was lovely and keen to see pics of K…I’ve got thousands so it’s never a chore.

I’ve always loved work. I’m not someone who counts down the days to the next holiday or is figuring out how early I can retire. I don’t mind checking emails when I’m on holiday or taking the odd important call, not because I’m an addict or can’t switch off, but because I don’t ever want to spend 47weeks of my year enduring the days so I can enjoy 5 weeks off…I recognise that last sentence might have annoyed some of you…there’ll be another post on this.

And so today, it would have been fair to assume that I’d have found going back not too much of a problem. I’ve got a job I really love right now, with a team of people who are all brilliant at what they do and a potentially very exciting year ahead…

That wasn’t the case.

I found leaving the house, horrendous.

The drive into London, painful.

And the day itself…well, pretty awful.

I’m being overly dramatic, once we got going, the day went quickly, and it’s hardly coal mining or running the country…but still, I just wanted to be at home, lock the doors and spend the day with my little family.

It gets easier…right?


RAISING A DAD – 2 March 2014

Everyone’s a critic

One of the things we’ve always known is that we were, theoretically, brilliant parents.

We knew exactly what parenting traits and skills we loved to see our friends and family display and what pitfalls and errors we would definitely never fall into or make.

What we’ve also always known is that theory is not worth much when it comes to parenting…and so we’ve never shared our “wisdom” with anyone, never intervened with our “expertise” and done all we could to keep our opinions to ourselves (unless we’re asked, if asked, we’ve always been honest with people no matter how tricky).

Having been a dad for all of five minutes now I can tell you that I’m very glad we’ve shut up all this time.

Someone has just, unwittingly, made my brilliant wife feel bad for a parenting choice, and whilst she maintained her ever-present calm and patience…I almost lost it…


RAISING A DAD – 28 February 2014

Upside Down

On the night that my wife’s waters broke I was having a catch up with a good friend of mine in London.

We discussed work, life, marriage and impending fatherhood.

As we walked back to the station he told me a story about a mutual friend who’s just had a baby. It’s an amazing story of a father literally saving his newborn son’s life and a whole lifetime of preparing for that moment…it’s not my story to share but it’s incredible!!

Anyway, as we went to say goodbye, he said that this father had been given some advice that really stuck with him – so from that guys friend, to that guy, to my friend, to me, to you…here it is:

People often say that when you have a child your world gets turned upside down…that’s not quite true. It actually gets turned the right way up.

I’ve used this explanation anytime anyone has asked me how fatherhood is going. It absolutely sums up my feelings towards this new experience and makes me wonder what life is going to look like moving forward…