I wrote the other day about how I wanted my Dad to be remembered. I’ve thought about this more than I realised and it started when I decided to do a reading for him at his funeral.
I didn’t want the funeral to go ahead without something personal done for him, we’d decided to have a notion to my Dad’s Hindu background and I managed to track down a Gujarati gentleman who although not a priest, knew the traditions and ceremony of a Hindu funeral and kindly ran the service at the crematorium, translating and explaining the traditions in English too. It was a lovely balance of the two cultures my Dad had lived within and that he’d brought us up through. A slight digression here but what really touched me was the number of people who turned up, friends old and new, ex-colleagues and family some of whom he’d not seen for 10 years plus. This meant there was a range of religions there, Hindu, Christian, Catholic and Muslim to name a few, but all paid their respects in this service and prayed in their own way throughout, I found it quite touching and positive in a way.
Anyway, back to my thoughts on doing a reading. I knew I wanted to read something and that really I wanted to write it myself, my Dad not being a huge literature fan, there wasn’t a poem or extract I felt relevant and personal enough. I avoided sitting down and writing this like the plague, I spent the days leading up the the funeral making out I was too busy organising it to sit down and write a reading. Truth was, I didn’t know what to say, so on the morning of the funeral that’s how I started it. My sister-in-law also writes her own blog and did a lovely tribute to Poppa M and with her permission I included some of this in my reading.
So here it is, what I felt was the most appropriate words to say on the day we said goodbye:
Deciding what to say today was one of the hardest things to do, how do you put 31 years with your Dad into words, when you don’t really want to be having to say them at all. So I started with pictures, sorting through a mountain of old photographs and laughing and comparing how similar and different the 3 generations of Mistry’s look.
This made me consider how I want to remember my Dad, and that’s realistically, I want to remember him as he was, he wasn’t superman or a hero, he was human, he made mistakes and wasn’t perfect (he was a Man U fan for a start). My Dad was my dad, he was normal, he did typical Dad things, like teaching us to ride a bike and dancing badly somethings he did really well, like loving us and being proud of us no matter what, taking joy out of our happy times and successes and always wanting us to be content and happy. He also did some typical Dad things not so well like cobbling together a cabin bed out of mismatched scraps of wood, repeating the same annoying jokes or lines from films over and over again, or writing grammatically incorrect and terribly spelt emails from India.
One thing I’d like to remember the most is his relationship with his Grandsons, not many people got to see this due to the miles between us all but it certainly reminds me of how he played with me and Jai as children. I’d like to read an extract from Hannah’s blog that describes Poppa Mangu’s affection and time spent the Californian babies:
Hours of walking around the pool, our eldest Leo leading the way with loud determination and Poppa M trailing behind. Playing games of ‘copy me’ on repeat, grandfather being told to spin around, stand on his head, touch the ground and jump up high. He complied with everything, laughing with tears of joy in his eyes all the while.
He was prone to lunch time bribery, sharing a sandwich or hand feeding his grandson like he was some emperor on the throne. Wiping his little face mid meal with kitchen roll. He cut up his toast and marmalade so Master Mistry could nibble on it whilst he played.
Long strolls down the street in the early evening sun, pushing Leo in his car, chatting about birds and balls and caaaars. Anything to keep his grandson happy.
Poppa called Leo’s name often, getting his attention, redirecting a tantrum and offering to play football, score a goal, or go for a walk. He was the proudest of grandfathers. It beamed out of every pore when he was with them.
When little Oli arrived he sat up all night drinking coffee and smoking. Waiting for news. He looked after our first born, making sure he knew there was a little brother on the way and that mummy would be home soon. Kept him busy with snacks and chats and reading sticker books with no story.
Meeting Little Oli brought tears of joy and nervous cuddles. It seemed he was scared of holding the newest addition, but longing to squeeze him full of love. So much pride and excitement about getting to know this new little boy.
That was my Dad, it’s how I’ll remember him, like I said not as superman or fighting fires, just normal, as my Dad but that’s good enough for me.