Lessons learned on life’s road
In the midst of life we are in death, as the Book of Common Prayer informs us, and I can confirm that after 70 you attend many more funerals than weddings or christenings.
Last week we saluted old pal John Harrison (pictured), who got a fine send-off just as he would have liked and deserved.
The proud former Mancunian was a man to stand his ground and walk tall but, equally, joiner John’s greatest pride was his family and workmanship. Also, he would do anything to help others and was a friend to always rely upon.
Despite being told three years ago he only had three months to live, John always had a welcoming smile and looked on the bright side of life.
The opening music to his Carleton funeral was aptly Bring Me Sunshine, from the Morecambe & Wise Show, later followed by a rousing chorus of Jerusalem (John loved his sport too).
In celebrating another’s life we often see our own reflected through past years. A curious, abridged poem – or ballad – at the back of his order of service was The Shooting of Dan McGrew. If you don’t know it, look it up. It’s from the late 1890s and Yukon Gold Rush days in Canada, when desperate men got by as best they could.
It always reminded John of early years working on our first motorway, now the M6, when billeted in rough timber cabins at remote, icy Shap – with only wood burners and Irish navvies for company. One man could recite the entire ballad and John took the trouble to learn it too.
Nowadays such working conditions would be an outrage and those men up in arms protesting. But, today, how many of us could still have raised a smile and simply carried on manfully . . . when given such a harsh death sentence?
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