Grandpa Fred – A Celebration of 101 Years, 10 Months & 23 Days of Life
It is with huge thanks and sincere gratitude that Grandpa Fred’s family have given me permission to write about his funeral – or rather the Celebration of his Life. Grandpa Fred was an inspirational, wise and fun loving 101 years, 10 months and 23 days young. How wonderful is that – he was quite literally a piece of history.
It seems a fitting tribute to add this article now – given that November is a month of remembrance and the 11thNovember – Armistice Day reminds us that we should never forget. Fred served in World War 2 – he fought for his country, although he rarely spoke of the atrocities of those years; Grandpa Fred always looked to the future, and he only took receipt of his war medals and papers three weeks before he died!
I call him Grandpa Fred, because I feel a real affiliation. I must point out that Fred was not my grandad, but this family have become especially dear to me. You see, I met Grandpa Fred not quite a year before he died, when I did the wedding ceremony for one of his great-grandsons Lloyd and his bride Katie, who said ‘I Do’ in a beautiful, natural, private woodland setting at the family home. He had a mobility scooter with the registration plate I AM 101. Doesn’t that just say it all?!
A Woodland Funeral Setting
What is different about this funeral, is that it wasn’t held within the tight time constraints and regimented format of a crematorium, where one family follows another (there is nothing I hate more), and where 3 pieces of music are deemed the norm. No. Grandpa Fred’s family had a much more personal celebration in mind to honour this inspirational man.
A celebration that had true meaning to the family and most importantly, one that Fred himself would have liked. His funeral was held in the same location as the wedding had been several months earlier. A setting that also has Fred’s wife’s ashes scattered amongst the natural daffodils, bluebells and birdsong. A setting that was personalised to include Grandpa Fred’s original antique office chair, his decorated tri-walker with number plate, mementos, photos, his war medals, flowers he liked, the decorated archway which framed his coffin, a beautiful memorial booklet, plus more.
Of course it was a sad occasion – nothing will take away the grief of the day – nor should it be taken away. Did we cry? Yes. Did we grieve? Yes. Was it a party? Absolutely not. But it was a celebration of a long life well lived and in a welcoming, warm, private and comforting setting for a fitting farewell that now also holds positive memories of the occasion.
You may not be aware that a funeral does not have to be in the formal setting of a crematorium, church or graveyard. A funeral can be held ANYwhere. I have done funeral services in hotels and village halls as well as natural burial grounds. There is no restriction. I only wish that more people knew about this – so here I am – doing my little bit to help spread the word…
Grandpa Fred read poetry at his funeral
Grandpa Fred loved technology and flowers (that’s quite a combination – Fred had the biggest Smart TV he could find, he always kept in touch via WhatsApp, and he and Alexa were practically best mates!) so his celebration of life reflected that part of him. Grandpa Fred’s garden was one of his great passions and will especially be remembered for his bright yellow marigolds, geraniums and fuschias. His garden was a vibrant pallet of colour, and he took great pleasure in growing everything from seed –he taught his grandchildren and great-grandchildren how to remove the seeds from marigolds, dry them and see them germinate into a new season’s worth of flowers.
- Every person at Fred’s celebration of life was invited to take a small terracotta pot with marigolds in as a lasting memory and legacy…
For me – one of the most endearing parts of Grandpa Fred’s funeral was him reciting his favourite poem. He had learnt William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” (often referred to as ‘Daffodils’) at the age of 10 and it took very little prompting to get him to recite it with accompanying actions.
- Grandpa Fred was recorded on WhatsApp reciting this poem less than a year before he died. We played it at his funeral. Grandpa Fred was right there with us.
Listen to Fred recite William Wordsworth's 'Daffodils'
A Toast and a Sing-a-Long
After a number of family tributes, Grandpa Fred’s funeral was brought to an end with a respectful toast (he did like a Sherry or a Bailey’s) and poem written by one of his great grandchildren.
If there ever comes a day where we can’t be together,
Keep me in your heart and I’ll stay there forever.
I won’t be far away,
For life goes on, he would say.
But now Grandpa it’s time for you to be with grandma, your wife
So cheers Fred,
He is to 101 years of life!
In closing, as Grandpa Fred was carried from the woodland setting, we all joined in to Vera Lynn’s ‘Wish Me Luck’ before a short committal service at the local crematorium.
Fred’s Words of Wisdom
Always live life to the full…
It’s mind over matter…
Think carefully, there is a solution to everything…
Keep a positive mind as it will result in a positive outcome…
Laugh and smile often…
Eat a little of everything you enjoy, but in moderation…
Keep an active mind, learn something new each and every day…