Eulogy - Tommy the Bobby 1922 - 2014
Address: The Revd Deborah Parsons
We come together today with a great variety of emotions: as we take time out of our usual routines to give thanks for the life of Tom Macdonald: Brother, husband, father, step-father, grandfather, step-grandfather, colleague, neighbour, friend, to share our grief and to commend him to God.
Tom was born on the Isle of Skye on 5th October 1922, the eldest of four children of Donald and Catherine. He was named Thomas after his uncle who was killed in the First World War; it was his grandmother's wish that the boys in the family should be christened Thomas in his memory. So six offspring were named Thomas. Tommy Macdonald was the last of the line. He is survived by his three sisters, Patsy, Isla & Rhona. It's lovely that Patsy and Isla can be here today.
After spending his early years on the Isle of Skye, Tom moved to Inverness. His father was a policeman. Tom was educated at Inver Moriston Public School and then at Inverness Royal Academy before joining Balfour Beatty in 1940, as a site clerk on the Loch Laggan to Loch Treig tunnel extension. He joined the Royal Corps of Signals later that year, serving mainly in the Middle East and Italy. And after demobilisation in 1946, returned to Balfour Beatty in Nottinghamshire. Transferring overseas in 1949, firstly to Iraq and then to East Pakistan and in 1960 to West Pakistan, as Accountant and Office Manager. He returned to the UK in 1962 remaining with Balfour Beatty until his retirement, as Divisional Personnel Manager, in 1988. He met Doris, when he was working in Iraq. They were close friends. And were reunited in 1974 and married in 1975. They enjoyed 32 years of married life living in Tonbridge Wells, until Doris died in 2007 at the age of 91. Tom re-located to Manor House & enjoyed living in Totnes. He is survived by his daughter Isabel, his granddaughter Amy, his stepdaughters Rosemary & Sarah & step grand-children Matthew and Robert.
What will you remember most about Tom? Perhaps you remember his skill at extricating himself from difficult situations. On one occasion when he returned home late, he told his parents he'd seen the Loch Ness Monster. They lived near the Loch at the time. The next thing they knew, the press had got hold of the story! Or perhaps you remember those idyllic summer holidays spent at his Aunt’s on Skye. Or his days in Pakistan, playing polo and flying small planes. He'd gained his Private Pilot's License. Or perhaps you remember his love of hunting and shooting and his enduring passion for fly fishing — salmon and trout. He spent many happy days fishing in Scotland. Going there on holiday every year, until very recently, to pursue his passion. And a wee dram of whisky helped with the fishing stories at the end of the day. Or perhaps you remember those happy times with their neighbour Francis, in Tonbridge Wells. Although Tom was a man of few words, he could be very sociable on his terms. Or perhaps you remember his love of travelling. And the holidays in Australia and America or with his Danish friends Marianne & Paul sailing their yacht around the Baltic isles. Or perhaps you remember Tom's stubborn streak. He was very determined. When he didn't want to do something, he wouldn't do it. No definitely meant no! Or perhaps you remember his fondness for Gray's Elegy written in a country churchyard. And his love of reading the paper. Always the Daily Telegraph. And his love of cigars. Last year, he went on a cigar fest to Cuba! You will all have your own very individual memories of Tom and of the effect that he had on your lives. And although life without him seems unimaginable, we can take comfort from our bible reading.
In it, Jesus tells his disciples that he's soon to die but that they need not be afraid. He will prepare a place for them, so that where he has gone, they will eventually be too. His love for them will never let them go. And he promises them his peace a deep peace, a holy knowing, if you like, that ultimately all will be well.
Our Christian faith assures us that that is true for Tom. That God has prepared a special place for him, within his love, and that all will be well the struggles of life are over, and new life eternal life has begun.
And for those who are grieving, we're promised the peace of God. Grief is very painful we can't rush through it, and we may not feel that peace for some time, but it will come, as we trust in the promise of eternal life.
So in a moment of quiet let us give thanks to God for Tom, for your own personal memories, for all that he meant and will always mean to you.