When you died, I was 14 and I thought I knew you. But when the vicar said all those things about you at your funeral, I began to realise I didn't. Now I hear even more stories about you and I wish I'd gotten to know you properly - you sound like an absolute legend!
I remember you as a Grampy; I remember you taking me to your allotment in your wheelbarrow; I remember going to visit you in your signal box and watching the trains with our little packed lunches. I also remember you being ill, but I only saw you once at your worst and I choose to forget that. I realise now, even more than I did at the time, that being stuck in bed was even less like you!
I didn't know that after your triple by-pass that you did loads of clinical trials for the British Heart Foundation to try and help find better treatments. You put other people above your own health and that's an amazing thing. I still only ever donate clothes and stuff to the BHF because of you. And I know you were always there for other people, even if it caused trouble, you looked after your own and I hope you never regretted some of the decisions you made for that reason.
I knew you liked a drink, it was always a bit of a laughing point in our family when you went up the Western for a pint and came back down 5 hours later singing at the top of your voice. But I've heard more about you now, and you sound like you were the life and soul of the party. I expect the day you stopped going up there was the first of a lot more quiet nights in the bar. I would have liked to have had a drink with you; you'd like our family Christmas reunions we have now when we all get together and drink, eat and play games. I think we all know it would be just that bit more fun if you were there.
I didn't know you were a bit wild in your youth, and I can't imagine you being the sort of person my Nan's parents didn't want to marry their daughter, but you were! You were a bit of a rascal by all accounts, yet you still managed to raise an amazing family and live a great life. I think you are an inspiration because you never took life too seriously, you went out and had fun whenever you could and it seems you had that perfect work-life balance. You were never bored, never had nothing to do and never wasted a single minute of your life. Some may frown on the things you did at the time, but looking back, I think you had a point. Life is too short, you could have died at 59 and never quite made it to 70. By that reckoning, I'm nearly a third of my way through my life and I sometimes forget that you need to let your hair down to keep sane. I'm going to make sure I do that. Maybe not to the extent you did, but in my own little way. You'd be upset at how highly strung some of our family have become, it's no way to live life and I agree. I don't want to end up like that, I know I already am sometimes, but I'm trying to lighten up and make the most of life. I hope you'd be proud of me :)