[A write up by Keith’s granddaughter Julia on his funeral for those of you who couldn’t make it. Posted by Atanu.]
On Thursday 25th May 2017 it was Keith Hudson’s funeral at Haycombe Cemetery & Crematorium. It was a humanist service, as you would have expected and it was a beautiful, day with the sun shining, just for him. The day started with the humanist celebrant Clare Hanson-Kahn opening the service. Most unusually (as you would expect from him), she had already met Keith, twice, and he had pre-arranged what he wanted to be said at his service. Clare started out by thanking Jan, on behalf of everyone for her dedication to Keith. The fact that he was able to stay at home, and pass away in peace surrounded by his cherished books would have been exactly what he wanted.
Clare talked about how each of us develops a different set of beliefs about death, but when someone close dies we share the same feelings of sadness and loss. And although completely natural that you should be sad, we should all not be sad for too long. Instead we should enjoy looking back at the moments that defined our relationship with Keith.
After Clare had taken us through Keith’s own annotations of his colourful life, his daughter Sue took to the front of the room to give a Eulogy about her Dad.
“I am Sue, Keith’s daughter and I’d like to celebrate his life by sharing some memories of him from my childhood. Whilst I cannot say I had a hard childhood, it was certainly a different one. And I am sure this was debated by my friends as they waited outside on the garden wall for me, waiting to play, whilst my brothers and I had our daily compulsory one hour of music practice.
They may have debated how we kept the milk in the garden pond. Or how Christmas presents had to be found as part of a treasure hunt round the house. Or how our neighbour had made their child take up the trumpet as retaliation to the noise we made. The music practice regime had a lasting effect, as all three of us still enjoy playing our instruments
Dad was a great innovator and was good at spotting an opportunity. Back in those days we had Bob a Job weeks from the Boy Scouts which has long since stopped. I cannot help but think Dad contributed to their demise. One year he had them digging the hole for the garden pond. The next they began digging out the foundations for the extension to our house. The following year…they did not ring the door bell and were never seen again. The foundations by the way impressed the Coventry City council planning department so much that the whole of the team came out to have a look at them.
He was a multi-tasker, and regularly watched Panorama or the news whilst reading a book and smoking his pipe. But when walking around, he had the habit of putting his still lit pipe into his trouser pocket with the result that he would regularly set fire to himself and his clothes. He eventually switched to snuff.
Dad was an avid reader of non-fiction, always keen to acquire knowledge. He would take me to my weekly music lesson and go the local library to exchange his ten books of the week for a new set. His move from Coventry to Bath may seem a strange one as he had no local connections with Bath. The reason was, that after much research, he established Bath had the largest density of books shops.
As any reader of his blog will know, he was very much focussed on the future. He told me about how powerful the internet would become when it was more of a concept than reality so he was well ahead of everyone else.
He didn’t quite get the concerns about Bird Flu right. He told me to stock up with four weeks-worth of supplies in case of an epidemic stopping civilisation. Whilst on holiday I received an urgent phone call from him. He just said ‘6 weeks’. Rather surprise, I asked 6 weeks what? To which he replied he had recalculated and I needed 6 weeks of supplies.
So with Dad you never knew what he was going to say or do, or when. I grew to realise and appreciate that I should never be surprised by anything he did, because I had no ordinary Dad.”
Next to speak was Helen, Keith’s Granddaughter who gave her Eulogy:
“Our grandad was very different to what I expect other grandad’s to be like, for example when we were younger he bought us all antique snuff boxes (much to my mum’s horror) and marble chess sets and our own encyclopaedias which was based on how much we weighed! He always pushed us academically and to achieve our potential, when we were younger he tried to get us to learn mandarin, he bought us all musical instruments I learnt the tenor horn, Julia learnt the trumpet and Kate started off on the trombone but after struggling to hold it she later switched to the flute. I know he was very proud that we all went to university and pursued our interests academically.
I have so many memories of his eccentricities, and even people who didn’t know him were amazed by this eccentric manner. For example, we met up one weekend for a pub lunch and suddenly this big crowd of tourists swarmed around us and they all asked for a picture of him because they all wanted a photo of this eccentric English man with his long beard and big hat with his scruffy dog.
More recently, I got to spend a lot more time with my grandad as I was living in Bath and I used to really enjoy our chats together, which I’m sure as you can imagine were sometimes more like lectures. Our topics of conversations ranged from can atoms carry information to the future of genetics. He went through a phase of buying different types of salami. He would buy a few at a time then we would have to guess which one was which. He gave me some to take home with me but most of the time I was going onto university so I would spend the whole day with this salami in my bag, scared everyone could smell it. During our conversations he’d always ask me what I was studying and learning, and obviously he already knew a lot on the subject matters. He even gave me ideas to research for certain projects and as I’m sure everyone knows his breadth of knowledge was incredible. He’d always be reading 3 or 4 books at a time.
The last time I saw him was about a month before he passed and this is a memory that I will always cherish. Although he was struggling to talk, he managed to ask me and my sister Julia “How do your jobs contribute to the modern economy?” At the time, I remember laughing thinking that only he would ask a question in such a manner, but he always wanted to learn more and understand the world that was so different to the one that he grew up in. He really was one of a kind and I have never been more proud of what he achieved and the fact that he was my and our grandad.”
At the wake, after the funeral we sat by the river Avon in the sunshine reminiscing about the day and Keith. Max, Keith’s youngest son stood up to pay one last tribute to Jan, thanking her again for ‘being an angel’. Everybody had one big cheers to Jan and praised her again for her patience, humility and love that she showed Keith – especially in his final years.
Writing this blog has taken me far longer than I would have liked it too. In the interest of you, his readers, I wanted to keep it short and concise. I drafted a few different copies, but none of them I was quite happy with. Sue and Helens’ Eulogies demonstrate just how he was such a big character and an influence to us all, in different ways. I couldn’t bring myself to cut down any of their personal memories. Keith’s own musings of his life that he shared with Clare completely sum up the Grandad that I knew and love. The fact that he was so self-aware of his imperfections, but embraced them should be a light of guidance to us all. Please do not be sad, Keith wouldn’t want it. Go forwards and be your best self, make him proud.
I have attached for you all a copy of the order of service that my sister, Keith’s Granddaughter Kate created. I think you might recognise the image (it’s from this blog), as well as you will appreciate the colourful visuals adequately reflect the colourful personality of Keith.
If I could ask you all to comment below with your memories of Keith, we would love to hear them!