Tuesday, March 27, 2007


My Dad died last week. This is the Eulogy I read at his service.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Sean Slater and I’d like to thank you all so much for spending time here today to remember my father, John.

To many of you he was a friend or a colleague, to four of us a father, to eight a grandfather and a great-grandfather to ten. That he touched so many people’s lives is shown by the amount of you here today and it is a cause of great pride to me and my siblings that we were allowed simply to call him: Dad.

He was born in the Lancashire mill town of Blackburn in 1920 to James and Ellen Slater, the second of four children. His childhood in an ordinary family was uneventful, but the 8-year old John was once told that his Grandfather, who was returning from a trip to India, that he was bringing an elephant home for him, Dad worried for weeks where they would keep such a beast in the simple 2-up-2-down terrace! But of course the letter had neglected to mention it was only a small toy.

Dad was called-up in 1940 and served as a corporal in the Royal Artillery. While he was stationed in Edinburgh, he met a young lady in a dance hall in Fountainbridge and agreed to meet her the next night at the foot of the Mound. The girl could not remember what he had looked like in the gloom of the black-out so before she met him again, she went back and forward along Princes St in a tram to check him out. She obviously liked what she saw as they were married in July 1943 and remained devoted to each other until Pauline, my Mother, died in 1995.

After the war Mum and Dad settled in Edinburgh were Dad, now a furniture salesman, became the father of Eain, Madeleine, Wendy and latterly, me. Grand-children came along at intervals throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the first was Yvonne, superseded by Graeme, Martin, Victoria, Kevin, Grant, Ross and James.

That he was a wonderful father really goes without saying to any of you who knew him. He was funny, generous, kind, comforting and above all he absolutely loved us without any reservations. One story will suffice to demonstrate this: at the age of 21 I did not know what to do with my life. A friend had asked me if I wanted to move to London with him and I agreed as it sounded like fun. When I told Dad he was at first sceptical of my motives but he accepted my wishes and supplied me with the train fare. (With hindsight as I was the last one still not flown from the nest he did seem rather quick to offer the money!) But he nonetheless reminded me that if I was any sort of trouble I could call him and he would ensure I had funds to return and I had a place to live. Even today, 20-something years later, I still look on the back-bedroom in Frankfield Place as my own.

His career had progressed steadily but surely and at the point of retirement in 1981 he was the head of the Scottish Region for a large catalogue company. He then found a new lease of life in retirement and devoted his energies and time into many diverse organisations such as The Catenians and the Probus, he drove a mini-bus to take the “old-folks” out, learned to play bowls and took up snooker; he and Mum travelled regularly to Spain, Cyprus and America. Basically they lived life to the full.

After Pauline, his wife of 52 years died from cancer, Dad slowed down. He had cared for Mum throughout her long illness without any complaint or objection but the effort had clearly taken its toll. His appetite for travel diminished but his love of people remained. He found friendship in has last years with Delores and remained loyal to a group of close and long-standing friends, many of whom are here today.

In July 2006 Dad was struck by the illness which was to take his life. Motor Nurone is a particularly insidious disease and robbed Dad of his ability to live life to the full in the last months but we all feel grateful we could repay – in whatever small way we could - the many kindnesses he showed us throughout his life.

The writer Douglas Adams once wrote “The World is a place of inordinate complexity and richness and strangeness, It is absolutely awesome, I mean the idea that such complexity can arise not only out of such simplicity but probably absolutely out of nothing is the most fabulous extraordinary idea and once you get some sort of inkling how that might have happened, it is just wonderful. And the opportunity to spend 70 or 80 years of your life in such a universe is time well spent as far as I am concerned”.

Dad gave us more than his allotted three score and ten and the time he spent passing through this world was time very well spent indeed.

Goodbye Dad and thank you.

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