I found this Word document dating back to 2004 in my archives, and in an effort to preserve it I have decided to now post it online. This is the eulogy that I read out at my grandfather’s (mother’s father) memorial service just after he passed away.
Stefanus Cristoffel Bothma (Fanie) – Eulogy, Wednesday 7th January 2004
Stefanus Cristoffel Bothma. Or Grandpa Sedgefield as he was known to us kids all the years. There is a lot that I can say about this special man, but I probably don’t have all the words I want to use, or the time to say it all. Perhaps I should start with a poem by Henry Scott Holland. He probably sums up death the best and this poem in particular is special to the family for other reasons as well. It’s called “In Deepest Sympathy”.
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed,
At the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Pray, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
It always was, let it be spoken without effect,
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am
out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval,
Somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well
He is waiting for us, somewhere very near. Just around the corner. Grandpa Sedgefield, or Grumps as I used to call him, was probably one of the kindest, gentlest of men you would meet. Very unlike his fiery red-headed appearance, Grumps almost never raised his voice nor spoke a word in anger. He always did his utmost to help people in need, no matter who they were.
A loving husband, he and Gran were married for 51 years. It would have been 52 in March. It was a loving friendship and relationship that stood the test of time – and brought many wonderful memories and moments with it.
Grumps was a very meticulous and thorough person. He was also very dedicated, and if he started something then he would see it through to the end. He worked for the post office for his whole life, and made many friends amongst his colleagues. He was a hard worker and a respected man. He was also a very cleanly man, and I remember that if there was a bit of fluff or dirt on your shirt, then he would lean over and remove it for you. He hated to see things out of place, and even now at the retirement home, he would walk around picking up things off the floor and giving it to the nursing staff to get rid of. With him everything had a time and place of its own and it was an ordered universe in which he lived.
He was a very helpful person, and Granny can’t even begin to remember how many people he would stop to help alongside the road, pulling their cars along when they got stuck with his trusty old Toyota Corona bakkie. Talking about cars, Grandpa was really passionate about his vehicles. One of his first cars that he owned when Granny met him was an old Morgan sports car. To this day Gran’s not sure whether she fell in love with Grandpa or with the car first. The car I will remember him the most for was his old Corona bakkie. He saw this old thing parked at the apartments where my mom and dad were staying and instantly fell in love with it. Gran and the rest of the family couldn’t understand it. It back had completely rusted off, so it looked more like a truck without a trailer. Still he persevered and managed to buy this thing off its owner. We don’t even think it was for sale at that time. Anyway, he fixed it up and had a wooden back-end fitted. This bakkie took him everywhere, and us grand kids had great fun on its back.
My mom remembers her dad of course as any daughter would. But she also remembers in particular how helpful he was when she and Ronnie first got married and moved out. Grumps went out of his way to help them and show my dad the tricks to DIY. Grandpa was a very practical person, and his garage was always packed with tools – all on their specially marked out places of course! He loved his woodwork, and I can remember him making all sorts of toys for us.
I remember my Grandpa as the great man that he was. I remember the time he spent with us grand kids, how he would take us for drives and walks, how we would sit staring over the Sedgefield Lagoon or run over the sand dunes. I remembering snuggling up against him late nights and watching the Lone Ranger riding into the sunset. He was a special man and we loved him dearly.
A good way to end this is by remembering his greatest passion during the year. He was an avid Formula One fan and wouldn’t miss a single race. He was a great Michael Schumacher fan and no matter how much I made fun of it, his man always seemed to win. Like Formula One, life is a race, and Grandpa has finally completed it. I think he won – but to him it was probably just the joy of taking part that kept him going. We love you and miss you. But we know that you will always be close by.