Three years ago today my uncle, Frank Phillips died at age 86 , though his memory is still vivid for those of us who knew and loved him. We shall not forget his forensic memory for tales and places of long ago, his love of English and the repository of poetry he kept in his head from his schooldays. He is also remembered for his sense of mischief and how he delighted in ‘rising’ people to the limit and sometimes beyond ! He was trenchant in his views from immigrants to people with an intellectual disability (a term he never used !) and he seldom gave any ground in an argument.
What I miss most about Frank on this his third Anniversary is his huge sense of nostalgia for the past and his detailed accounts of growing up in rural Ireland in the lean years of the 1930’s. The fields he ploughed, the potatoes he planted, the horse and cart he drove, all recalled by him with an intensity of emotion that brought them back to life in the telling. He came from a generation where life was hard and everything was earned by laborious toil and many became so caught up in the tough business of ‘living’ that not much thought was given to anything else.
Frank though was always one to reflect on the bigger issues of life and informed by his wide selection of reading reached conclusions that didn’t always square up with the prevailing norms in the society around him. He maintained this ‘maverick’ streak right up to the end of his life and inspired me, especially as a younger man to plough my own furrow and think for myself. Thank you Frank for the richness of your legacy and those precious memories of your life which are very present with us today as we commemorate your passing.