Monday, 10 March 2014

In celebration of a wonderful life

My cousin and I read our final words to my grandfather on Friday

Thank you all for coming today and for joining us in celebrating the life of Grumps, Dad, Pud, Johnny, Grandad, John, Faz, 1470623 Gunner Fazackerley.

We called him Grumps, more on that later.

Grumps was born in Kendal, Cumbria in 1927, where he lived a posh childhood in a semi-detached house with an indoor loo, a bath and running water.

Grumps was the eldest son of John and Mary, he had a brother - Sam and three sisters, Margaret, Doreen and Pat.

Grumps was an ‘outdoor’ kind of chap. As a child he spent much of his time tickling trout in streams. That as we learnt was a method for catching them. You lay down on the bank, gently put your hand into the water. When a fish came along you tickled its belly sending into a false relaxed state, at which point you flip the fish out of the water. He told us about his adventures frequently but we never saw him catch one in this way.

Grumps also enjoyed playing in the fells and cycling to near by Morecombe.

Grumps was always a fighter and longed to be in the army. He tried to join when he was 14, but got turned down. He ran away from home at 16 and tried again, but again was turned down. He did however get offered a job in Manchester working in an ammunition factory.

Grumps didn’t give up on his dream of being in the army, at 17 and a half he tried again and this time was successful.

Grumps was sent to the holy land: he was always proud to tell us that he had been to Bethlehem and the sea of Galilee. After two years of service he was sent to Middleton Stony to train as a paratrooper with the SAS.

It was during this time on a Saturday night, whilst out dancing with two friends, that he met Grandma (the love of his life). He was so smitten by her that he walked from London to Middleton Stony in one night to keep a date with her. He obviously knew a good woman when he saw one.

Within a year of meeting the woman of his dreams, Grandma and Grumps were married. The biggest surprise was to follow!

Whilst serving in Germany, Grumps received a telegram from Oxford to say that his beloved wife had given birth to their first child……and their second…….and their third. Could he come home?

Of course his C.O thought he was fibbing and dismissed his claim. Grumps had to call Bicester police to confirm the claim and report the true outcome to his C.O.

He was told to catch the next truck home….the C.O said he didn’t know whether to ‘shoot him or promote him’ - he was permitted 3 weeks leave.

Grumps was awarded a medal for his time in Palestine. He was a brave and heroic man. One night, whilst watching his post an intruder made an attempt to gain access to the camp. Grumps challenged the intruder three times, then nervously he did what he was trained to do and opened fire….the poor casualty was a donkey!

Two years after fathering triplets, Grumps fired again. This time a single cartridge in the form of a beautiful daughter. Luckily, this time he was stationed in Kidlington so was closer to hand.

Grumps served 8 years in total in the army and 5 years as a reserve.

After his army days were over he worked at Pressed Steel in Cowley for 30+ years, he also worked as a retained fire fighter at Pressed Steel and in Kidlington fire station. He worked at Kidlington for 22 years and gained a medal for long and committed service.

Grumps was never one to sit around doing nothing. Of course he rested on occasions, his little saying was ‘This won’t buy the baby a new hat!’

Grumps loved fixing things but not in the usual sense. To most people, fixing something means you glue the broken object, inconspicuously hiding the defect the best you can. This was not the case with Grumps. Grumps seemed to have an endless supply of grey tape. To those of you who don’t know of his love affair with grey tape, we’re talking about highly adhesive grey duck tape. It did the job but far from hid the defects on the item. All over Grandma and Grumpy’s home there is evidence of all the fixing Grumps has been doing.: The vacuum cleaner, the remote control, wires, handles….even a cushion!

His computer fixing abilities were not such a story of success. We quickly learnt not to give Grumps access to our computers, even covering them in an attempt to hide them! Frequently we heard stories of his wiping the system clean. Grandma even had to buy her own computer for fear of losing her data!

Our early memories of Grumps are of fun and frolicking. He always loved children.

To my brother and I, Grumps was like a father as our own father was tragically killed when we were very young. We spent much of our childhood in the care of Grumps and Grandma.

Grandma and Grumps frequently took us all way on holiday to give our exhausted parents a break. We loved our simple breaks to Butlin’s, camping and even to Spain.

Grumps spent a lot of time when we were young in his shed wearing his brown and white bobble hat. We longed access to that very well organised shed with neatly aligned stationary and fishing tackle that a small child could only dream of using - but whilst not in it, he kept the door securely locked!

Grumps shared his passion of gardening, car engines, nature, taking things apart, fishing and his sweets….

He loved his sweets, he also loved his jam and bread. Grumpy’s favourite meal was simply jam and bread.

There was one thing that Grumps did that we all hated. The dreaded ‘dry shave’. He had a passion for catching us and rubbing his stubbly chin on our soft delicate skin -

Grumps, it really hurt!

Now I probably ought to explain to you all why we called him Grumpy. In his 50’s, Grumps did become really grumpy and snappy with us. We’d hide and peek out and shout ‘Grumpy Grandad’. He’d become very cross at that. We were actually a little frightened of him at that time.

Then Grumps had a major heart attack. Nature wanted rid of him, but as the true fighter he was he wasn’t going that easily. He endured a quadruple bi-pass operation and followed doctors orders and went on to make a full recovery. He also wasn’t grumpy anymore but by then the name had stuck!

Three years later nature tried to do away with him again, this time in the form of an aneurysm behind his eye. Once again Grumps stood his ground and fought on. With the help of medical intervention he lived to tell the tale.

In 1994 upon retiring, Grumps persuaded Grandma to move South to Pagham where they spent 20 happy years. They had many exciting adventures travelling the South coast on their free bus passes.

Last year Grandma and Grumps celebrated 65 years of marriage. What a major achievement.

Grumps was diagnosed with cancer in February 2011 and was given just 6 months to live. He still wasn’t ready to leave and fought beyond the doctors belief for two further years.

Even at Christmas when he was really poorly, Grumps still helped the kids cheat in our Christmas games!

So Grumps, as you make your way to Heaven’s pearly gates, we envisage you sitting on a cloud taped up with grey tape, being fed sweets and jam on bread by the angel children - don’t be cheeky and try to dry shave them as your stubble will no longer be course. When you get there the gates will open wide to let you in, your service to the mortal world has been honourable but now your time is done. Time to find your old friends and run around catching rabbits - play well!

Do not cry and be sad at the loss of a great man. Smile, celebrate and be glad that knowing him has enriched your lives. Memories last a life time.


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