Last week I buried my second father.
Shirl, for that was his name, was a huge character. Not in a hugely gregarious, in-your-face kind of way, but he collected people as he wound his way through life. He seemed to have a very easy way with almost everyone he met and people in the main couldn't help but like him. Not least of all, me.
The circumstances that we were introduced to each other were far from perfect, he and The Mum got together at the cost of my Dad and I held him responsible for quite a while. At on point The Mum was genuinely of the opinion that I was going to shoot him (the fact that I didn't own any kind of firearm or even have the first clue where to get one didn't seem to get in the way of the theory).
But the thing was, he and The Mum loved each other hugely and I took the view that it wasn't for me to stand in judgement or shout the odds - and this point of view, looking back, was facilitated mainly by my Dad's almost superhuman efforts to never bad-mouth anyone.
Years went by and he became part of us as a family. He was funny, warm, kind and just great friend. When my relationship of many years broke down he said things to me that meant the world. I will miss his advice and his company.
That's him, on the right. With the fancy shorts.
Cheerio Shirl, it was an honour to know you.