At his funeral on 5th July, John Hemming’s daughter Karen gave a wonderful tribute to her father in the form of a poem. John had been an intelligent and kind man who would have loved the words Karen wrote for him, having a similar way with words that her dad had. I am very grateful to Karen for allowing me to publish this poem in recognition of a very special person.
……….Fragments……sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire…..
The size of dinner plates
Playing dabbers on the kitchen table.
A fireman’s lift “up the wooden hill “to bed.
I snatch a dancing trophy
From the pelmet board
At ceiling height.
Step, step, cha cha cha on the yellow and white kitchen tiles.
You loved living in Denton.
You told me when you moved in
Stan Lockey said to you:
“It’s so quiet here John you can hear the carrots grow”
At Cuddesdon church fete you sat guarding the entrance gate.
The “Poppy Man” shaking his tin.
A man of the parish.
Many an hour spent in the Bat and Ball
You liked a pint
or two. (You liked to chat)
1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3……..
Fragments………sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire.
You were a man of routines
Bird feeding, dog walking, runner bean growing routines.
I planted six conkers in your runner bean patch.
You dug up six horse chestnut trees.
You said I had green fingers.
One memorable bonfire night
You sent a rocket flying
from our bathroom taps
to light our expectant bonfire doused in petrol
You kept fruit gums for the grandchildren in “Grampy’s magic draw”
Amongst the book of lists and mum’s neatly folded tea towels.
You loved mum
Rock and Roll
And a good cappuccino
….sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire….
You were a man of nature
A childhood spent outside in the spinneys of Stanton St John
Storing apples in the rafters
Working the land.
Finches, pheasants and roe deer
Regular visitors to your
In Bury Knowle Park you planted 100 roses
For the Queen Mother
A dove of peace in memory of Hiroshima
And tended the flower beds
For Britain in Bloom.
Quick, Quick, Slow
You were never in a rush
Full of advice:
learn to slow down
Write it down. Clear your head.
I didn’t really listen to my Zen master
We closed the curtains
To keep out the scorching
But storm clouds were gathering
A gust shot through the house and toppled the vase
The petals fell to the ground
But the scent remained, carried in the air.
I like to think you fell into the arms of Morpheus
Your last conscious memory
In your memory
I will tend your roses
Prune back to the fifth leaf
and admire their beauty
I will say the Latin names of trees out loud
Quercus robur, Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies
I will eat licorique allsorts
We have lost our North
and our East
but we will find our way
as you would so wish
fragments…………..sandcastles, moats and the smell of ambre solaire…
and a baby cries
and a dog barks and
a marching band plays on….
A poem written for Dad.
Karen Hemming. 5th July 2017