Today my Dad would have been 90

November 12, 2013

As my father aged be realised people become competitive about how old they are in a similar way to small children. Where the youngster may be “Six and a half” or “Eight and three quarters”, Dad realised his aged friends would all boast they would be ” Seventy seven next year” or “Coming up eighty” –  always maximising their age and experience to be the oldest among the group.  To be the recipient of the appreciation of longevity, the respect afforded for simply having stuck it out, to having had the luck and good fortune to have got that far. And he recognised he played it too because there was nothing he enjoyed more than sitting with a group of men discussing their age and infirmities and he would nod along, a fit and healthy specimen but able to trump them all by actually being older.

One of his many wonderful attributes was his belief that he had been lucky in life. In his last decade or so  he repeatedly told me how lucky he thought he was; he had survived the War despite serving on the Atlantic convoys, gone to Uni and eventually got a degree whilst having the most marvellous time, played the field, met and married a woman he adored and had my sister and I and then loved his grandchildren. And he repeated this during his final weeks and days, giving us the enduring comfort that he had enjoyed his life.

And he had. One of his talents was to lustily enjoy life. In crowds as the centre of attention, or alone absorbed in writing or reading poetry. He allowed himself to love it all. It was never wealth or status that he sought, but happiness. And he was happy enjoying a beautifully written verse or listening to an operatic aria or a Welsh song with the tears flowing down his cheeks.  At his funeral we shared with everyone his English translation of the Welsh hymn Calon Lân . There are standard translations but his is better. It’s the song that the crowd usually sings before the rugby nowadays, but Dad always sang it when we were growing up as it is a standard. And of course he sang it in Welsh, his native tongue. It is a beautiful melody even if you don’t know what the words mean, but ever more poignant is Dad’s translation as he has written it to reflect how he saw the world –  that it is what is in our hearts that is important, not our earthly possessions. And that is what he always gave us – pure and unconditional love

Calon Lân

Translation by T. Richard Morgan

I ask not for ease and riches

Nor earth’s jewels for my part

But I have the best of wishes

For a pure and honest heart.



Oh, pure heart so true and tender

Fairer than the lilies white

The pure heart alone can render

Songs of joy both day and night.

Should I cherish earthly treasure

It would fly on speedy wings

The pure heart a plenteous measure

Of true pleasure daily brings.



Eve and morn my prayers ascending

To God’s heaven on wings of song

Seek the joy that knows no ending

The pure heart that knows no wrong.



How I remember him as a child

How I remember him as a child

My previous blogs about him are here, here  here and here.


4 Responses to “Today my Dad would have been 90”

  1. Jess Says:

    Lovely words, Sarah, we can learn a lot from your Papa. Puts me in mind of Mark Twain: “Do not complain about growing old. It is a privilege denied to many.”

  2. Liz Yandell Says:

    beautiful Sarah. I have such strong memories of him and I think you are right. He loved life. The whole imperfect lot of it. One of my favourite photos of him is in 1975 at Christmas where he is on his hands and knees bum in the air as he tries to beat my brothers and sister in a high stakes game of Picking up Sticks! A classic!

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