Sunday, July 15, 2007


Sixteen years ago today we lost him.
A presence bigger and more full led him by the hand
to a different world.
‘Bid your troubled hearts be still’ we were told.
Meant well, but the void was too wide, the loss too deep.
His company was gone
My granddad finally could fight no longer and slipped
into a land where the grass, they say, is soft and green,
and the trees are tall and honey-filled.

The tears fell and fell and fell.
They fall now as I remember him with such affection.
His warmth and strength was infectious and so reassuring,
his faith so steadfast that I still reel back, it humbles
me so.
For years he hacked out the coal faces of South Yorkshire,
deep under ground with his bare hands.
Hands that were big and strong,
even in my later years as an adult mine were dwarfed
when he held them.

Then there was the playful mischievous side to Rex Chambers.
My father told me that he once emptied a carriage of a train
bound for Boscombe, convinced that it indeed wasn’t,
only to realise his mistake but to be too embarrassed
to admit to his error of judgement and so leave the majority
of the train bound for Middlesbrough instead!

Long before my time I have been told of occasions
where on holiday with the extended family
he would disappear without explanation for quite some time,
only to return to the beach with a supercilious grin on his face,
armed to the hilt with fish and chips for everyone…

I won’t go into his cooking experiments with ingredients
such as pigs trotters, bulls testicles and sheep’s brain!
I remember the man who worked from the early hours of the morning
until he fell asleep in his chair late at night.
I remember the man who could barely breath when he walked 5 yards
later in years having breathed in so much coal dust from the pit.
I remember the tears of frustration when he knew
his once strong body was beginning to really fail him.
I remember the man who on his deathbed asked his sister to
‘sing with him a while’ – the old rugged cross if my memory serves me well.

I remember a warm and strong man,
A trickster who enjoyed colouring outside the lines
And sixteen years ago today we said ‘see you soon lovely man,
see you soon…


Anna said...

I am so sorry...this was a lovely tribute straight from your heart. You are always so transparent with these feelings you are having...thanks for sharing them he sounds wonderful.

My favorite part...

"A trickster who loved coloring outside the lines.."

That my friend is what I want to be when I grow up.

See you soon! :)

Barbara (aka Layla) said...

Your father sounds like someone I would have liked to know. Beautiful tribute to him - I can sense your loss. Thankfully memories keep everyone we love alive in our hearts.

Awareness said...

hi paul....loss is such a deep well, especially when the loss is felt for someone who has left a gaping hole in our lives. I feel the same about my grandma as you do your granddad and miss her daily. So often her presence is keenly felt when I'm in the process of doing something or reacting to something.....and realize the imprint she had on how I view the world. It is always during those moments when the blessings somehow slip in with the loss.....and I give a nod of thanks.

I came across this Robert Fulghum quote tonight while searching for another for my next post.....his words seem to fit here....

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge
That myth is more potent than history
That dreams are more powerful than facts
That hope always triumphs over experience
That laughter is the only cure for grief
And I believe that love is stronger than death."

Love encompasses tears of joy and sorrow, of longing and despair, of grieving and celebration don't you think?

I wish I had met Mr. Rex Chambers.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

thanks, he was a remarkable man who am sure is causing mayhem in heaven - probably playing draughts with someone like Moses (and knocking the board to the floor when he realzes he will lose!)

it was my grandfather, but my father is similar in many ways - he filled my life with big moments - July 15 is always a sad day. Wish my kids could have known him...

poem is lovely, thank you
Am sure you would have got on - causing chaos whilst colouring outside every line! The only thing i would have changed about him would be that he liked beer (salvation army!!!!!) - think we would have had much fun over a few pints of Stones Bitter

Suzanna said...

so much love there

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

thank you - yep there is - i miss him still - tho he still lives on in my fathers eyes.....

Tori said...

This is beautiful and resonates with me at such a moment in my life full of loss. My grandfather died almost a year ago, my husbands grandfather died a couple of months ago...
Grandfathers are special people in a family world.

St. Kevin & the Blackbird said...

This is beautifully written. Your grandad comes through as deeply felt as your grief. Well done. Did you seem my "The Contemporaries?". Would love to know what you think.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

tori, thank you so much - i read and was very moved by your reflections of grandfathers - we have them only for a while...

robin - you are kind with your words - i haven't had chance to look at your piece on contempories, but look forward to doing so - i shall let you know my thoughts, am sure they will be well written and profound

paris parfait said...

What a wonderful tribute to a very special man. I feel this way about my late grandmother. I think we will never stop missing these precious individuals, but the memories will always colour our lives with joy.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

paris, that is a lovely turn of phrase.....i like the idea of the memories colouring our journey

sally said...

Paul, have you heard Kate Rusby's song, 'My young man' about her grandfather? A beautiful song beautifully sung, and the words are

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

sally, i haven't - i have a few of her albums, but can't find this song. Which album is it from?

ps, we are from the same town - barnsley, met her at Greenbelt a few years ago - still find it funny that a voice so so beautiful when she sings can sound like a miner when she talks!

Kathryn said...

Thank you Paul. I never really knew either of my Grandfathers (one died while my mother was still a child) and now my children are in the same position, never having known my it is specially lovely to read this sort of tribute. I am sure he takes as much joy in your rememberings of him as they give you, even while you miss his presence.

sally said...

Paul it's on the Little Lights album..the last song..she sings it unaccompanied and then is joined by the Brighouse and Rastrick (is that the name???) colliery band, which cuts your heart in two..sych gentle playing, such wondeful harmonies..I saw her in concert in St Albans - as you say, she speaks like a miner, sings like an angel!!! I have the ong on itunes and keep replaying it... xx

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

i never thought until your comment of my granfather knowing how i felt - i guess if all things are possible someone on the other side may have mentioned it, and that in a difficult time has brought me a little grace - thank you

merci, will try and download it now - will let you know