Tuesday, 13 December 2011

John`s Eulogy

Thought I would share with you The Eulogy my brother John wrote for Andrew.

When I was originally asked to write the Eulogy for Andrew , I started the whole process of evaluation during a long walk in the country.

Nearly 50 years of memories , I felt , had to be combed through , thought about and examined so that some sort of order and clarification could be reached.
But , it was the wrong way to go about things , I realize that now - for in actual fact , all I needed as a starting point , was to acknowledge that Andrew was a person who was always very different.
He was a man that walked his own path in life.
As children , my sister Janet and I , always thought of him as a bit exotic, a bit of a rebel , a bit of a maverick.
And on my walk , I made a mental list of just why we did.

He was always a bit of a rocker -okay- He did have a brief dabble as a mod-complete with parka and a hand painted Lambretta moped ! but his heart was always in the Marc Bolam , T-Rex and Black Sabbath camp - music that was important to him throughout his life.

Some people won`t believe this !

He had long , luxurious red hair , which tumbled rather seductively to his shoulders and looked remarkably like a pre- raphaelite heroine [ but only from behind ! ]
He was often moody, never spoke , but had the extraordinary ability to argue a lot.

His pride and joy was his immaculate jet black ford Anglia which sported a day glow orange go faster stripe and had as I recall incredibly furry seats.

He had a set of scruffy friends that drank a lot .
And he wore a scruffy Afgan coat that smelled a lot .
He smoked and drank too much - and smoked strange large homemade cigarettes - always when mum and dad were not home.

Yes, He was a bit of a rebel.
He sported a flash pair of homemade painted silver platform boots - which were accessorized rather nattily with a somewhat battered Scooby Doo T-shirt.
What bloody strange things you remember eh ?

He was also a bit of an athelete and played tennis for Flintshire , was a talented artist , a risk taker.
He was not an academic in any way , but was always good practically ,being able to work with his hands instinctively and with talent.
He played drums in a band called "Resistance" and nearly hospitalized my father - when during a publicity stunt for "The News of the World " - he was photographed in the nude-behind his drum kit.
I remember my father wailing that it was the end of his budding career in local politics .
The collective family -knashing of teeth was , as I recall ,highly amusing to us kids.
The band toured Germany
And my parents calmed down....... eventually !

Andrew calmed down too - well just a little, as he met and fell in love with Jayne and it was Jayne that always generously let him walk his own path when it came to what made him happy.

In the 1970`s Andrew and his lifelong best friend Tim , donned matching black and yellow anoraks to take part in the local motor club rallies and hill climbs with Tim as his driver and Andrew as his trusty navigator.
Even then Andrew had to be the best at what he undertook- even designing rudimentary yet effective microphone communication hidden away in their crash helmets.
The joy of this exhilarating and dangerous sport took Andrew to several national and international events - He loved the thrill and competitiveness of it all.
He played snooker for the Con Club and loved his weekly " Ninety Nines " at the golf course with Tim, nephew Peter and friend Geoff Kay .
I remember at the height of the C.B radio`s popularity Andrew had to have the biggest and most flash rig going - I managed to reach Gronant on my C.B. - on his - he spoke to to a bloke in Canada !
And he loved the excitement of building his own model airplanes [ his only slightly geeky past time ] Although I remember the romance paled slightly when he lost part of a finger in what can only be described as an
" Out of control - Cessna - friendly fire incident !"
Andrew loved playing the raconteur at family get togethers - when he could deliver a story with all the pace and humour of Joan Rivers.
Even in his latter years -his ability to communicate , albeit by gesture and expression was never diminished.
On reflection, I think Andrew`s life in many ways, went full circle.In his teens his love and enjoyment of music creativity was a passion- and in his 50`s when most of us embark on the more comfortable and mundane and more relaxed -he grasped the nettle and re entered the world of music and musicians again. This mid life change brought him a contentment and , I think a wonderful sense of self worth. In his mid 50`s- he had found and had embraced his niche -a niche that was only eclipsed by Andrew`s role as a husband and father to son Jon -who was his pride and joy.
Mind you ! Believe me when I say Andrew was a true " Gray " he was stubborn, opinionated and enjoyed being in charge. So when Motor Neurone Disease started to bare its awful teeth ,so to speak ,Andrew typically refused to allow the symptoms to dictate to him.
It was a difficult battle .
But it was a battle that he and Jayne fought together. Jayne was his rock. With a natural skill, resilience ,strength and tenacity , she never wavered in her role as advocate for Andrews wishes.

He wanted to remain at home until the end---she ensured that was the case.
He wanted to be without pain or anxiety at the end - working with the wonderful team of health care professionals -she ensured that was the case.
And he wanted to die with dignity with Jayne and Jon at his side.
And as we all know-this final wish was granted.

As a previous ward manager, I have probably interviewed neigh on 100 nurses for jobs, I can tell you one thing honestly...
I would have employed Jayne any day as a trained nurse-she did my brother proud in the way she cared for him .
And I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my family, to publicly thank her for all of the work she did.

I was going to finish this eulogy with a piece of poetry, a traditional saying or an appropriate verse from a song or from a piece of literature...
But on reflection I decided that it was not really Andrew.
He was not an emotionally indulgent like me , or flowery or overly sentimental.
It was not his way- at the end of a visit there would be no realms of written notes , no emotional Jacuzzi`s -no wringing of hands.....
There was always however - a bit of a gentle smile , a nod of thanks and a somewhat jaunty "thumbs up " when goodbyes were said.
So that`s what we all should give him now..........
Our best smile
No tears , a nod and a jaunty thumbs up .

Beautifully written don`t you think .

Ann and I made the arrangement -using some of Andrew`s old drumsticks ,the rings represent his drums and the roses are called rather appropriately " Grand prix "

Mike Peters sang an acoustic version of his song " Breathe " before being joined by Phil Strat Evans and together they sang another of Andrew`s favourites " Knocking on Heavens Door"
He would have loved it .


Gill - That British Woman said...

what a lovely eulogy....well written,

Gill in Canada

Anonymous said...

John's Eulogy is perfect! Thank you for sharing!

Note: the orange wrist bands arrived to day, thank you so much, I'll wear one for Andrew and all those that suffer from this tragic disease!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Thumbs up from us all - to Andrew and to John!

Terry said...

Yes, beautifully written.
Thumbs up.

Sharon said...

How beautifully written, I don't think Andrew would have changed a thing.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

I wish I'd known him...
John's eulogy, straight from the heart, what could be more fitting.
Yes, thumbs up !

Angus said...

The pride and love come shining through . Keep strong .

Poppy Cottage said...

That was, as you said, beautiful.

Tom Stephenson said...

I asked John if he would post up his eulogy, so I am very glad you have. What a nice one.

Roland Roberts said...

Exactly as I remember him too! Spot on John and thumbs up for a great guy. Love to You all
Rol xx

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Splended and thoughtful, just like John. A lovely tribute for Andrew.

John Gray said...

just seen that you posted it. thank you x

Sisters of the Blog said...

Just lovely.


Denise said...

It's one of the loveliest eulogies I have ever read. Thanks for sharing it Janet, and sending a big hug to you and the rest of the family.

Manchester Lass, Now and Then said...

Sorry John, I couldn't help the tears, I was so moved reading this. What a wonderful Eulogy. Janet and Ann beautiful arrangement and how fitting for Andrew♥♥ Sending special thoughts across the miles. Linda xxx

Jim said...

What a lovely tribute to a wonderful man! Thanks for sharing this Janet. And unsurprisingly John did a great job.

sophie...^5 said...

That was perfect for Andrew...now we all know a whole lot more about your bother...I know John did you all proud.

sophie...^5 said...

That was perfect for Andrew...now we all know a whole lot more about your bother...I know John did you all proud.

callie brady said...

That was wonderful, John. Smiles and thumbs up to you and Andrew.

Elizabeth said...

Just perfect. x

Chris said...

I've said before, Andrew was blessed to have had you two as siblings.

Thank you for letting us share that.x

Hesta Nesta said...

Absolutely wonderful, definitely a thumbs up!
Jo xx

Diane said...

Sorry but I couldnt comply with the "no tears" bit - This was so beautiful and brave. Many thanks for sharing this Janet. I would have despaired of Andrew as a son, but I bet he made a wonderful and colourful brother. Sending love to you all.xx

Chickadee said...

*hugs* beautiful eulogy. I hope you reflect on it often. He is always with you.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, personal eulogy.

Tim Williams said...

John did us proud and Andrew would have been amazed at the whole service and at the numbers of people who came along to pay their respects.

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

What a wonderful tribute to Andrew. I never met your brother but I feel as if I had. John's words were beautiful and spoken from the heart. The beautiful flower arrangement couldn't have been more fitting and the music was perfect. You all did a wonderful job ...thumbs up to all of you and to Andrew.
Maura X

Baby Rocket Dog and Hootie said...

I have no words to express my sadness for your loss. John's words magnify who your brother was and what he must have meant to you all. You,John, Ann and Jayne gave Andrew such amazing gifts. I hope that the Lord blesses you 10 fold for your selfless acts.x-cassie