Remembering Grandpa Leonard 1928-2009

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My Grandpa Leonard died suddenly, of a heart attack (we family members suspect a blood clot). As circumstances had it, Madame Oui and I weren’t able to make the transatlantic flight home for the funeral. (On a 24-hour notice, either no seats available else £1500 tickets.)

In our absence, I organised some flowers to be delivered (see wreath above), and my youngest brother very kindly offered to read a eulogy on our behalf (see below).

We kept our scheduled holiday with Madame Oui’s parents to Fuerteventura. (Grandpa Leonard would have wanted us to keep to our plans as much as possible.) I felt like I was in a twilight zone for a few days.

In his honour, Madame Oui and I climbed up Montana La Caldera on nearby island Los Lobos. It was a steep climb, with awesome views from the top. There, I scattered to the wind some flower petals that I collected the day before. It seemed an appropriate thing to do.

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I also read out the eulogy I wrote:

GRANDPA LEONARD

As I left for university, Grandpa Leonard said to me, “Make sure you have fun.” At the time I thought that peculiar, as my head was set for serious studies. But as life’s challenges get ever more difficult, making time to have fun is all the more important.

For his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, the yellow cabin Up North remains a place of much fun and happy memories.

It is obvious that this place was his happy refuge, made all the more pleasurable by the presence of beloved family visitors.

Including Beverley, who thoroughly enjoyed her trip Up North, with especially fond memories of a Grandfather-Granddaughter fishing trip.

For both of us, Grandpa’s visit to our wedding in Ireland meant so much to us.

While we didn’t manage to introduce Grandpa to distant cousins in the Leonard ancestral homeland of Irvinestown in County Fermanagh, you wouldn’t have known, by the way he was chatting to the locals in the pub!

The nearby tourist office had a guest book. Grandpa asked me what he should write in it. I said, “It’s good to be back home.” Grandpa smiled, as he appreciated his 4-generational link between Ireland and America.

So these days we can find ourselves living further apart, using telephones and email to keep in touch.

But what really matters is where your heart is.

For Grandpa’s spirit lives on, in all of us, near and far.

And if there’s one thing I’ll carry with me, it’s Grandpa’s advice to make sure to have fun, to celebrate life, and keep a good nature.

May Grandpa rest in peace.

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