The following is what I wrote for, and read at, the Service of Thanksgiving yesterday (Saturday 2nd July) for my grandfather, Michael Patrick Scott O'Connor, who died on Wednesday 22nd June, 2016.

When I was very little, and first learning to speak, there were two names that were of particular importance to me. One was Lalie - the closest I could get to saying ‘Charlie’, our dog - and the other was Papa, whom we are remembering and celebrating today, and every day.

There is an easy explanation behind my learning of these two names, and it is simply that they were the only ones whose attention I had  to attract. Being the only new baby in the household, I was pretty much centre stage for everyone else, as new babies often are.

But Papa’s selective hearing was more than just a way to avoid newborn wailings, and was actually a fairly recurrent theme throughout what I have known of his life. Surrounded by women from day one, his selective deafness became much more a useful tool than any sort of inconvenience.

When he was listening though, he really listened. He was interested in the goings on of everyone around him, and was able to keep track of it all with astonishing detail and accuracy. He celebrated every achievement, no matter how small, and although not overly gushy or demonstrative, we always knew without question that he was proud.

And in turn, we were and always will be proud of him. He told the most fantastic stories of both his youth and his not-so-youth, some awe-inspiring, some verging on the unbelievable, and some downright hilarious. He presented us with endless riddles and puzzles, invariably maths-based and completely impossible, but he had his head very firmly on his shoulders and knew exactly what he was doing.

He always stood up tall and walked with a very purposeful stride, which was no doubt instrumental in his being approached by TV journalists a number of times, which delighted him no end.

And even just a fortnight ago, he continued to do us and himself proud, pushing on and fighting hard just as he was always wont to do.

Everyone has their flaws, and the deafening crisp-crunching and packet-rustling was annoying at times, but never have I ever come across someone with a combination of qualities quite so universally lovable as Papa.

A kind, generous, moral and intelligent man, he built a wonderful life for his family and never once lost sight of what was important. Nothing could ever have prepared us for the gap that would be left by someone so completely full of life, but with the memories of times we shared, the values he instilled, the inspiration that he was and the unwavering love he showed, we will be thinking of him in everything we do.

So now, because he would hate such a fuss to be made, I’ll wrap up, with the knowledge and assurance that he loves us all, and we will always love him back.


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