It was my great honour yesterday to address family and friends at my uncle’s funeral. The picture pretty much says all that Earl McConachie was to most of us who loved him.
I was very afraid I wouldn’t make it through what I had written, but I did thanks to some strength from above and some lavender oil. Only had one chocking up moment, when I addressed my Uncle Keith.
Following are the words I managed to get out minus the teary eyes and the shaking.
My Friends, we gather to grieve our loss and to comfort one another in our sorrow. We gather to give thanks for the life of Earl and to surround his family with our support, strength and encouragement.
Welcome. I am Earl and Jane’s niece Peggy Guiler.
We thank you for joining us and waiting for us here this afternoon. We have just returned from burying Earls ashes at the Hagersville Cemetry. It is with sadness that I come here today but it is also my great honour to have an opportunity to share with you about the life of my dear Uncle Earl McConachie.
It is with sadness that I come here today but it is also my great honour to have an opportunity to share with you about the life of my dear Uncle, Earl McConachie.
On days like this our former loses seem closer somehow. We all miss Earl’s siblings, my mother Marjorie and Earl’s brother Don. We very much feel the loss of Earl and Jane’s daughter Barb.
I think of all the funerals I have been to with this group of people and I shed a tear. But I also think of many other times we have shared over the years and I cannot help but laugh a little.
McConachie Christmas is still an annual event I cannot miss. As an only child, my cousins are the closest I have to siblings and all of them have embraced me as part of their families over the years. Aunt Jane and Uncle Earl took special care of me after my mother died almost 40 years ago. They treated me like another daughter, helping me celebrate birthdays and the special events of my children and they always made sure we had a place to go at Christmas. I landed at their table, unannounced, on a regular basis.
A couple of years ago, after Earl had his first stroke I knew something was on the downslide because for the first time in my life he didn’t greet me as McGoo. I think only cousin Elaine and I had nicknames by Earl. She was “Squeak”.
I didn’t think much of my nickname because I thought that silly, little, nearsighted, comic character was a bit stupid and I didn’t want to be like him but I never said a word because I loved the man who called me that. I miss being McGoo.
Nicknames seem to be a bit of tradition with Earl. I’m not sure if he just had trouble remembering the names of his brothers and my Dad but they were all “Sam”. Earl was “Sam One” and I’m not certain what the number order was for the rest of them.
At family gatherings over the years, there was always a little circle of the men along with Grandpa. They would sit sometimes with serious looks as they solved the problems of the world and sometimes there would be gales of laughter from the little cluster. I miss those circles but will always hold them as a sweet memory.
Many of you will remember Earl for his signature mustache. I do believe he must have been born with it. Most of you will recall his other signature, the kilt. The minister already alluded to what he may or may not have worn under it. He was awfully proud of his heritage and thought he had the best knees in town. A wee dram of scotch was also a fond tradition.
I always remember a man who laughed hard but I also know he was a man who worked hard. When he retired from his long career of selling this and that he went to work on the farm. That is what he wanted to do and why he went to Guelph for college after all. He loved the land and all the chores that came with it.
He also loved his family and while he, like most of the men in this family, was never very demonstrative of that love, we all knew he loved us fiercely. As much as he loved his children, he loved his grandchildren more and enjoyed travelling to see them play whatever their sport of choice was. Nicole dragged him all over the continent with hockey and soccer games.
And speaking of love. There was that Mowatt girl he fell for and stayed married to for 68 years. They certainly had their struggles and ups and downs but they showed us all the meaning of keeping a vow. They made a home together where everyone felt welcome and cared for. That devotion to one another never stopped.
We honour not only the man but his family today. Jim and Jennifer, Marty and Terry, I want to thank you for the hard work and devotion you have shown over the past two years as you supported Jane and Earl in the most difficult transition of their lives. Mark you have loved from a distance but that love was felt from across the country.
Barb would have some great things to say today. She would have written a touching poem to make us all cry. She left us too soon.
To the grandchildren Jack and Mandy, Laura and Beta Josh and Jenna, Nicole and Wray, Erica and Phil, Aaron and Tara Megan and Shawn, I say you have been given a legacy of love and laughter which cannot be matched. Use it well and remember all the lessons. Love much, laugh often.
Barb would have some great things to say today. She would have written a touching poem to make us all cry. She left us too soon. To the grandchildren Jack and Mandy, Laura and Beta Josh and Jenna, Colie and Wray, Erica and Phil, Aaron and Tara Megan and Shawn I say you have been given a legacy of love and laughter which cannot be matched. Use it well and remember all the lessons. Love much, laugh often.
To the grandchildren Jack and Mandy, Laura and Beta Josh and Jenna, Colie and Wray, Erica and Phil, Aaron and Tara Megan and Shawn I say you have been given a legacy of love and laughter which cannot be matched. Use it well and remember all the lessons. Love much, laugh often.
Ted you have lost a dear friend and were as much a part of this family as anyone. We thank you for being a friend to all of us.
Uncle Keith, I am sorry that you are the lone man in the circle but I hope you will feel the presence of all the others, always.
You know, Earl wasn’t big on religion and he wasn’t too sure about all this God stuff but I like to believe that for the first time in eternity he is sitting up there saying, “I was wrong,” and having a good laugh about it.
In a moment of silence let us all offer our personal thanksgiving for all that Earl has been for us and for all he will continue to be in the hearts and minds of those who loved him.
For the life and Earl and for our memories we give thanks, Loving God.
Earls Daughter Marty and the oldest grandson Jack said a grace which all of us have heard Earl say many times over. Jack related that it was said at every family meal for as long as he could remember. (The Kinsmen’s Grace)
Happy to meet, Sorry to part, Happy to meet again. For what we are about to receive O Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.
The ladies of the Hagersville United Church offered a wonderful lunch for about 100 and as always, the egg salad sandwiches were the biggest hit.
Special thanks to Peggy Barlet, who officiated at the cemetery service.
For those wishing more information, you may visit the Obituary at South Coast Funerals and Cremation Alternatives Inc.