Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Today our family's beloved Granddad has gone to glory.

He leaves behind so many memories.

Headmaster at the Grove School in days when some of the pupils lived in grinding poverty. Children dismissed as delinquent, he understood, taking the trouble to know them. He knew that some who failed to hand in homework had no electricity at home except for a cable slung in through the window from a neighbour’s house.

His degree was in physics, and he ran maths lessons for children who got slung out of class. I remember him talking about one boy sent to him for misbehaving. This boy was hopeless at maths in school, but Granddad discovered the boy was saving to buy some boots, earning pocket money scoring for darts matches. Darts scoring is complex – there was nothing wrong with the boy’s arithmetic, he just needed a more imaginative approach from his school.

But then Granddad knew what it was to struggle, and to cope with adversity. His mum died when he was a little boy. Every morning his dad went out to work leaving him sitting in the greenhouse until it was time to go to school; and there he sat and waited for his dad to come home in the evening. After supper, he went to bed while his dad went down to the working men’s club. To understand him, you had to think of that child.

He grew up practical, self-reliant, and determined to establish a life of security. Doggedly, deflected by nothing, he watched over and protected those whom God gave into his care; his family. He was the most dependable man I have ever known. You could rely on him. Trustworthy, loyal, never judgmental. Cautious, discreet, observant. Private, independent, persevering. He was, to the core a northern man – a Yorkshireman.

His faith in Christ was steady as a rock; unswerving, unhesitating. But he thought deeply, and did not fear to question.

With his wry humour and pragmatic approach to life, he was not over-demonstrative; yet he loved deeply. He is one of very, very few people of whose love I have felt confident, always.

I shall remember him, forks stuck in the earth in three different locations in the flowerbeds, so that he could get a little gardening done when his grandchildren gave him five minutes peace.

I remember him sitting outside the tent at camp on a summer evening, a towel over his head to keep the midges away.

A lifelong Methodist, and a preacher since 1952, he nonetheless cheerfully abandoned his restraint around all things alcoholic when he took up making his own (delicious) wine.

I remember him making Margie’s wedding cake with Grandma – how they couldn’t agree on the sugarcraft flowers – but it turned out that was because they were each following a different picture in the recipe book.

I remember him saying of each child born, once she got to about three months, “Well, I think it’ll live.”

I remember him saying to me, “All right, lass?” There is nobody left to say that now. No one in the south calls me “lass”. I treasured it.

I remember him leading Boys Brigade Bible Class – and preaching on Parade Sunday about “Nothing”. “ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Nothing!’ ‘What are you eating?’ ‘Nothing!’ What have you got in your hand there?’ ‘Nothing!’ ‘What did you just put in that desk?’ ‘Nothing!’” The kids loved him. Everybody loved him. His whole self preached the Gospel. But canny, reserved, watchful, loyal, he didn’t let that many close to him.

So many memories.

In these last months, weeks, days of his life, he has had to be very brave. He faced death quietly, uncomplainingly and with great dignity. He said he was comfortable, and peaceful. Grateful, appreciative, saying thank you for everything, accepting of what was happening to him: “It’s time to go home,” he said.

And in these last days, one morning when it was just him and me, I read him the words he loved from the epistle to the Romans, and the Shepherd psalm, and we said the Lord’s prayer together. Then I asked him if he wanted me to bless him on his way with the prayer for the dying; and yes, he wanted that. So I prayed this prayer for him:

“Go forth upon thy journey from this world,
O Christian soul,
in the peace of him in whom thou hast believed,
in the name of God the Father, who created thee,
in the name of Jesus Christ, who suffered for thee,
in the name of the Holy Spirit, who strengthened thee.
May angels and archangels,
And all the armies of the heavenly host,
Come to meet thee,
May Christ be thy Pilot and give thee safe crossing,
May all the saints of God welcome thee,
May thy portion be in gladness and in peace,
Thy dwelling in Paradise.
Go forth upon thy journey, O Christian soul.”

And he said, “Amen.”

Well done, thou good and faithful servant.


Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful person. Thank God for him.
Have never commented before on this blog, Pen. Although I have been coming here for years.
But just had to now, at the passing of this magnificent disciple of the Lord.

Best wishes,

David (a Catholic Deacon)

kat said...

I still see him. In my minds eye, always smiling. Love and kind thoughts to you all xxx

Pen Wilcock said...

Hello David - glad you spoke up from your quiet corner! Yes, he was indeed a "magnificent disciple of the Lord".

Hi Kat - thank you! The smile lines round his eyes were etched very deep.


Anne Booth said...

What a beautiful post - What a beautiful life and what a beautiful blessing you gave him at the end.

Pen Wilcock said...

It was indeed a beautiful life - a humble and honourable man.

Rebe said...

I wish I'd known him.
I'm glad I saw him (in those last 2 photos with you).
How empty you might be feeling right now, Lass!
On the other hand, how full!
The prayer for dying, I copied. Many around me are dying.

C.F.Dunn said...

I am so sorry for your loss and for the empty space the death of such a beloved father inevitably will leave, but so happy that he has gone on his way back home. I suppose that for those of us left waiting, the space will become filled with memories. May they be happy ones, flooded with light and love. God bless. X

Pen Wilcock said...

Thank you, friends. xx

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I am so very sorry.
May your memories of him always be a blessing and a comfort to you.
Thinking of you and your family, and I will of course keep you all in my prayers.

Pen Wilcock said...

Thank you, friend. He was a good age - just now we all feel like wrung-out dishcloths, because it has been such a strain watching him go through the last few days of his life. It is a massive relief, like a big weight being lifted, to know he is safe home and free. xx

Amy said...

I lost my beloved dad just a little over a month now and these words have provided much comfort...may they do do for you as well. Praying for you and yours Pen. Xo

"Glory to Thee at the hour of nightfall"
Glory to Thee for the last Ray of the sun as it sets/
Glory to Thee for sleeps repose that restores us/
Glory to Thee for Thy goodness even in the time of darkness/
When all the world is hidden from our eyes/
Glory to Thee for the prayers offered by a trembling soul/
Glory to Thee for the pledge of our reawakening/
On that glorious last day, that day which has no evening/
Glory to Thee, O God from age to age." Gregory Petrov, written in a Russian prison camp in 1940

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh, that's lovely! xx

Anonymous said...

Dear Pen

Such a beautiful post. He sounded so much like my own dear dad who I lost 13 years ago.

And now, as I watch and wait for my beloved husband to go to his maker after a long and difficult illness which he has borne with such grace and serenity, the words of that lovely prayer will be such a comfort to me.
God bless
Stella xx

Pen Wilcock said...

May you be blessed and strengthened and kept in peace. May angels attend your dear husband's passing. xx

Sandra Ann said...

Pen, such beautiful words for a very special man. His kind of headship has long since gone, it is testing and targets. It takes a person to have known suffering to then look beyond a facade and see Christ in the other and where necessary meet an individual need and teach creatively.

The prayer time you shared with him and the prayer for the dying which is so beautiful must have been a great comfort to you both.

Sending you a hug and prayers fit you all during this sad time.

Look after yourself dear friend

San xx

Deborah said...

Oh that made me tear up even though I never knew him. Sorry for your loss xxx

Sandra Ann said...

Meant to say Grandad x

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Suze said...

God bless you all as you remember and celebrate sucha special man. it is always a gift to hear that such treasures have blessed the lives of many. Godspeed to your Grandad.

Pen Wilcock said...



Patricia said...

Much love to you at this time. But I sense there is great peace with you and in you. So glad you sent him forward with such beautiful words from John Henry Newman....so fitting.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Pilgrim said...

I am sorry for your loss, but glad you had such a good person in your life.
That is a beautiful prayer.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

gail said...

What a beautiful tribute. Think of you in your time of sadness but what a wonderful time he is now having.
Blessings Gail.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Anonymous said...

Made me tear up a little. My own beloved dad went to glory in January 2014 at the age of 89.

How beautiful that prayer is. Elgar set it to music in The Dream of Gerontius.

- Philippa

Julie B. said...

What a gift to have had such a man in a family. Not only what he meant to you, Ember, but your girls must feel so rich and forever blessed to have him for their grandfather. You are a wonderful companion for such a journey to heaven, too. You have to stop just short of the final crossing over, but your prayers and sensitivity are beautiful in this. God give you all rest and joy now. xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

That's the one, Philippa - oh, I have a story about that Dream of Gerontius - subject for a different blog post maybe. xx

Julie - he has been a lifeline to my girls, no kidding. Saw us through some really dodgy places. In the last days of his life in the hospice, when it was the Harvest Festival of our chapel, some of my girls came in with me and we sang to him, with their auntie (his daughter) - hymns he loved and the special harvest hymns, in harmony. Actually he slept right through them and didn't hear them at all, but the staff and the other patients in the hospice were all listening from their rooms and liked it! xx

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Please accept my condolences; I look forward to meeting your Grandad on the other side of the veil. I bet he and my Granddaddy will meet there and become the best of pals. Those kind of men are becoming rare in this day and age; may God bless those who are left.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

MaryR said...

Have been away and only just seen this, Pen, so am sending belated hugs and sympathy. What beautiful, wonderful words about a very special man.

"The greatest tribute to the dead is not grief, but gratitude." (Thornton Wilder)

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

daisyanon said...

What a lovely memorial for him. I hope you and your family are finding some consolation in these happy memories.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx