I struggled to pick any particular memories of Grandad. There are no individual moments that stand out from the others, no single memory that sums him up. On reflection, though, that is befitting of a man who has been a sort of persistent calm in our lives. A friendly face, a warm smile, and a heartfelt pat on the back.
My memories are of him sat in his chair, feeding his fish; Of arriving at his house and rushing to find him in his greenhouse or knelt in the garden in his string vest.
William Wordsworth wrote that “the best portion of a good man’s life [is] his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love”. Little nameless acts like bringing in carrots with the tops on (because one of us liked to eat them), or keeping birds eggs in the shed to show us next time we visited (even though they kept exploding); sharing his stories and eating the holes from doughnuts.
Other acts – building model snowmen, or growing the pineapple – were achievements in themselves, but the ease with which we accepted them is testament in itself. I still feel an intuitive sense of childish bemusement at the suggestion that either of these things might be unusual. “Of course he’s grown a pineapple, of course he’s built a big model snowman, he’s grandad.”
In truth, then, memories of Grandad are not hard to find. Memories of grandad are memories of Christmas, of Birthdays, of the everyday activities that we did together and the memory of a childhood spent with grandparents that loved and cared for us.
Grandad leaves behind a family that, as we have seen these past weeks, continues to care. A family with little drama but defined by the same calm, patient affection that characterised him. We all know how proud he was of each of us, and I hope he was proud of himself for being such a part of an environment in which we could flourish.
Raymond Charles Gomer leaves us each with his calm kindness, his understated affection. These are virtues for us to remember and to emulate. We may no longer find grandad in his garden, or in his shed; but still, as we go on with our own lives we can remember, when we are sad, when we feel stressed, when we need to remember a calm or a safe place, to keep finding grandad.