And Then He Died.
He was an “A” student although they didn’t measure it that way in Ireland in those days. He won scholarships at every stage through to his master’s degree in science. Meantime, he biked and hiked through the mountains fishing and getting to know every plant and animal. He sang in the choir where he met the girl of his dreams (they would go on to have twelve children). He played piano and wrote great music and fun songs. Before he could afford to buy a car that worked he picked up two that didn’t and combined the best of both into a smooth running machine. A green door on a black chassis looked good towing his homemade caravan. His career in science and engineering led him into senior management in fertiliser plants before he was thirty. He would later run Ireland’s biggest and only oil refinery. In his spare time the boats he built were so well finished he could have been a professional at that. A swimming pool, a tennis court, many sheds, kitchen extensions and green houses were built with his own hands. A swarm of bees chose a hollow tree in his back yard to settle – within three months he had seven beehives. He discovered a species of ant that is still in the British Museum. To his children he was tour guide, entertainer, storyteller, fixer of anything that broke, front garden footballer and the best teacher of most subjects any of them had. He found time to be a voracious reader. He found hardly any time for golf and none for smoking or drinking. He was a catholic or a believer in Thomas Aquinas depending on how you interpret it. He attended Mass most days but was very critical of the running of the church locally and universally. He loved social gatherings of friends and family - singing, laughing, debating, philosophising or playing party games often invented on the spot. I never remember him bored or at a loss for something to get enthusiastically into. He was a man who would think about what he’d love to do and then get right into doing it. His trimaran sailing boat was being built to sail around the world. Then one morning in March 1968 he got on a commercial flight that took off but never landed. It crashed into the Irish Seaand all aboard were killed. He was 44. I used to think this was a sad story – the saddest story of my life – because he was my father and he died. But now I see it as a wonderful story – the most wonderful I can tell because, first he LIVED … and then he died. Here’s an early Christmas present, “Santa’s Train” written by Dessy Walls Sr. and sung by Peter Walls. [ti_audio media="1206"]