Sunday, June 01, 2008

Albert Melville Watson 1918-2002


Delivered by his daughter Penny Crittle during his funeral service held on 21st October 2002

It is my honour to stand before you today to talk about Patience’s loving husband, the father of Prue, Andrew and myself, the grandfather of our children and the great grandfather of their children. And of course the special friend of all of you present.

This family comes here today to acknowledge our special man. Whilst we grieve for our loss we wish to acknowledge it is our grief and that Dad lived the life he wished to lead – in many ways a blessed life. He did not suffer and wished to leave us when he did. He told me before he died that he had had a ‘great innings’ and this is the truth. To us this ceremony is one of celebration.

Dad was a man of many fine qualities and many achievements. For me his most extraordinary quality was a total lack of avarice whilst living in a culture in which the dominant paradigm is one of greed – more and more, bigger and grander are the guidelines. At the age of about 40 he sold his business and retired. He could so easily have caught the greed disease but he was comfortable that he could care for his parents and his family. This is indeed what he did for the remainder of his life. He not only cared for his family in material terms but was always there when advice, consolation or jubilation was required. Not to mention the occasional lecture. He assisted many friends in their hour of emotional and financial stress and held an interest in community needs with a particular concern for the guide dogs for the blind.

Dad was a man of great style – not just the sartorial elegance that came naturally to him but a style for the occasion. He always managed to say the correct words on any occasion and infuse them with a real warmth.

Mel was a charismatic man – a man of charm and good humour. As a younger man he was the life of the party – I have fond memories of sitting at the top of the staircase and watching Dad surrounded by his friends having a gay old time. His occasional flare of anger was over almost instantly and he was the first to apologise if he believed himself in the wrong. He did not hold a grudge if an apology from the other side was not forthcoming.

In case he is starting to sound a little too perfect I recall P (Patience) telling me of a meeting she had with Jim Grant during Dad’s hospitalisation. Jim asked after his old friend’s health and when Patience replied that ‘he was a little grumpy this morning’ Jim’s rejoinder was "Humph. He’s always grumpy".

Whilst not an academic he had a fine intellect with a special interest in all aspects of Roman history. Dad put his intellect together with an innate ability to assess people very quickly and we never had an opportunity tell him that his first judgement was incorrect.

Those of you who met Dad later in life may not have been aware of his fine singing voice. In his youth he won singing competitions and somewhere we have copies of his renditions of Ole Man River and the Lord’s Prayer. I remember staying up late as a young child in order to hear him singing on the wireless.

The main pleasure of Dad’s recreational life was sport but he was not a man to be a couch potato. If he could not play and play well he had little interest. His prodigious physical talents were coupled with a determination to do his best. He was a representative tennis player, cricketer, lawn bowler and of course golfer. He was proud to have represented his country at bridge. Amongst the people present are many from the worlds of golf and bridge and your presence is a testimony to his presence in these fields of endeavour.

The family thanks you for your presence here today. We ask you to think of him often. It gives us comfort that although his spirit and body have gone it is in the minds of his loved ones that the meaning and worth of his time amongst us is realised.

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