[2/2] I don't know how I can ever accurately eulogize who was, without a doubt, the best man I have ever known. Anyone who ever met him can attest to how sharp and driven he was, and his career success can back that up. What I loved the most was how he balanced that with an amicable, laid-back nature that I'm certain shaped my own personality by a lot. He knew when to be serious but was generally easygoing, slow to anger; he rarely lost his temper with me (even when I tested his patience too far) and the two or three times he did it was always over trivial things, a trait I think we both have in common. He was always ready with a joke and always made me laugh with ease. He would tell me as a child how his father was often unpleasant and cruel and how this made him try to be a good and kind dad to me. I didn't understand the weight of this until later in my life, when I came to understand the importance of how you are raised, how it can all too easily spiral into a cycle of abuse, and how strong he was to confidently break that cycle. He was unfailingly kind and generous whilst also headstrong, and did his utmost to inspire the same ideals in me. I could write this for hours and never be able to summarize him completely. I'm sure I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to what he left with me, and I will miss him forever. I love you Dad, rest well.
Left by Sarah Coles:
[1/2] My dad's first memory of me was when I was hours old, being held peacefully in his arms, before – as he often recounted to me – opening my eyes and beginning to cry when I looked up at him. I often joked that set the tone for our relationship in general, even though that could not have been further from the truth. I almost wish it was possible to pinpoint my first memory of my dad, but as things are I grew up with his presence intrinsically embedded into my life, a constant I inevitably took for granted. Throughout my childhood he was the most dutiful father I could've asked for; my own personal chauffeur who always drove me to and from the various extra-curriculars my parents encouraged me to take part in (most of them turned out to be failed endeavours, such as when we all realized I had the dancing ability of a block of stone and unceremoniously decided I should just quit). Beyond that, though, he always patiently went along with my hobbies – I have many memories of him placidly agreeing to play Mario Kart with me even though he barely understood how to hold the controller. Whatever I did, no matter what he may have thought of it in private, he supported me. This trend followed throughout my life, from me dropping out of my psychology course to pursue Japanese, to the culmination in which I ended up scraping minimum wage together in McDonald's. Even then he was supportive (though I have no doubt he lamented the money he spent on my education), telling me that as long as I was happy, that was all that mattered. A determined and motivated man, he always encouraged a similar work ethic in me but never pushed me too hard.
Part One Ray was a kind brother who played with me and teased me when I was very young, partly, I think, as he missed is infant sister, Stella, born 2 years after him, who died before she was 2 of TB-Meningitis just before penicillin was released. He was a big 11 year-old by the time I came along. He would push me in my pram downhill to nursery wearing his roller-skates while Mum went to work. Neighbours wondered that I wasn’t killed, but I loved it – my first taste of speed.
He called me ‘Greensleeves’ in winter when I had my usual colds and runny nose, as houses were so poorly heated then. He used to amuse me after Sunday dinner, while he was sitting in a big armchair and I sat on the floor at his feet by tapping out the rhythms of songs on the arm of the chair while I guessed their titles. He started with nursery rhymes but soon moved on to his favourites by Lonny Donegan or Tommy Steele.
Ray bore a close resemblance to Tommy Steele, with a cheeky cheerful grin, his hair and eye colour, and his height – well over 6 feet. Coupled with his good looks and easy relaxed manner I am sure they are what helped him with the many promotions he achieved in the Post Office and Civil Service later. He traded up his push-bike to a cherished Lambretta scooter and quickly became the President of the ‘Berko’ (Berkhamsted) Black Knight scooter club, going off with his friend John Williams, a dentist, and other members on weekend jaunts. His time at home grew less as he met new friends and girlfriends.
He was keen for new experiences and applied for an internal transfer to the Post Office in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia. He travelled down to Capetown on the SS Stirling Castle. He had a great time out there and returned 2 years later bronzed and with sun-bleached hair. The only thing he hated about the experience was the racial discrimination.