Here is my eulogy to my father-in-law that I spoke at his funeral on Thursday.
My first real memory of Norman was when I asked him for the hand of his beloved daughter, Karena, in marriage – I managed to get him alone in the front room of their house in Badger Drive in December 1992 while Karena “apprehended” her mother in the kitchen. Karena and I had only been dating for about 3 months so it was all a bit fast….Norman’s response to my question was ‘unusual’…..he looked me in the eyes, looked blank, said nothing, then got up and walked out of the room… ….I nervously followed….he went to the kitchen and told his wife, Grace, what I had asked. They quizzed us a bit (it was a bit fast!!!), and then they opened up some champagne !
Before the wedding day actually came, I got a brief talking-to/warning from Norman – he took me quietly to one side one day and basically said to me, “You’d better not mess this up, Sunshine!” Norman was fiercely protective of his family – his daughters and his grandchildren in particular, and also his wider family. For his daughters, he had always delighted in them both and would do literally anything within his power that he could do for them, he would give them anything he had that they needed, and Grace had to reign him in a bit with his extravagance sometimes – he loved them so very much and showed it in many different ways.
I can honestly say that from the moment that I asked him to marry his daughter, that Norman welcomed me into his family as a son….and in his thinking I became part of the family and was under his ‘care’ in the same way as his daughters were. Whilst I never called him “Dad” to his face, that is what he became to me….somebody who I could always go to, somebody who I knew would watch my back, someone who I knew cared for me and for my family, and somebody who would literally give away anything and everything in order to help me or my children out if I really needed him to. He consistently supported us as a family and I know that he prayed for us all daily.
When my beautiful wife Karena died in 2010, Norman’s heart, like mine, was utterly crushed. He was never really the same again….but in spite of the very real pain that he experienced then and with the passing of his own beloved wife last year, Norman, whilst quiet and broken-hearted, remained strong in faith, and through tears I know he was confident in the gospel of Jesus - that one day he would see his wife and daughter again.
On Sept 30th Ellie and I visited Norman in hospital after his fall. Initially, whilst clearly unwell from his fall, he was able to speak and before leaving his bedside, I asked if he would like me to pray for him – his reply was, “Yes please”. They were his last words.
I prayed for him that the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding would guard his heart and his mind in Christ”, I prayed for God’s presence to be very real for him there in the hospital bed, I prayed that he would have confidence that God was with him.
I didn’t actually leave the hospital…from that moment on, medically Norman’s condition deteriorated, and within a couple of hours he had died and been welcomed into his eternal home – into the place of great reunions, into the presence of God, into the presence of Christ, and he had been reunited with his wife and with his daughter – into the place where there is no sadness and no tears. This is our confidence as a family.
2 Tim 4:8 “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing”
So whilst today I have a heavy heart for the loss of somebody so dearly loved, I also have joy and confidence and hope too, because Norman was a believer in Christ, and he is now in his eternal home, and for those of us who are in Christ, we too will see him again one day.Norman – Dad – we will miss you.