I’ve written about Dad’s service.
In preparation for this, Mum and I had written down a bunch of notes for David (the priest). Well, Mum did most of it; I added a few things and a few jokes. David asked a few more questions, to fill in some missing background. This formed the main content of the ceremony.
What I’ve done, here, is taken both sets of notes and put them together, with some editing and tweaking.
This is the story of my Dad.
Douglas Charles Harris, born 19th March 1938 in Dagenham; 2nd of 2 children. His older sister, Rose, passed a number of years earlier.
During the war he was evacuated to Ilkley, in Yorkshire, but after 6 months the family came back to London.
He went to school in Albion Road, Dagenham.
He met Stella in October 1958; she’d just left school and he’d been demobbed from National Service. The relationship got off on a misunderstanding as to where Stella lived; Western Avenue or Western Green. Sadly for Doug, Stella lived further away than he thought so he had a long journey back home!
They got engaged when Stella was 17. Doug changed jobs from being a butcher at Sainsbury’s to work at Fords, so he could save money for a house.
They married on 22nd July 1961 at St Peter and St Paul, Dagenham. People said it wouldn’t last… but here we are, 56 1⁄2 years later!
They bought their first house in Dagenham. Stella surprised Doug 2 years later by putting it up for sale while he was at work. The house sold the same day.
They moved to Limburg Road, Canvey Island. Doug worked in Basildon, Stella traveled to London.
1968 Stephen was born. Never was a man more proud than Doug. Then to their delight Jason was born in 1970.
The family spent many happy years camping on the Isle Of Wight, and in France.
Both boys did well at school. Jason was always popular with his peers and enjoyed sport. Doug and Stella even qualified as referees to support Jason’s football team. Jason gave up football and took up squash, but Doug continued to referee for many more years. He was so devoted to football that he would fall asleep with it on TV at every opportunity.
Stephen was the studious one. He was accepted to attend St Peters College, Oxford. Doug was proud; as he said, he didn’t even make grammar school.
Jason began working in London and soon moved into a flat with a friend. Stephen came back home when he graduated. At last Doug had someone to go down the pub with! Stephen then moved to Hornchurch and Doug had to wait until Christmas for the boys to take him down the pub!
Doug decided to take early retirement at 52 and tried hard to keep busy; golf three times a week, badminton and keep fit twice a week, housework and gardening to fill in the time until Stella came home from work as a teacher, something Doug encouraged and supported.
One time, Doug decided to do some decorating and encourage Stella to go to Spain with a friend. She returned with a lovely present for him… another house, this time in Spain!
Jason married Lorraine, and in 2001 Doug became a totally besotted Grandad to Stuart. This never changed.
Many happy times were spent in Spain, in every school holiday. After Stella retired more exotic places were added to the holiday itinerary, including cruises to far flung places. Always where it was sunny and hot. Doug hated the cold.
This year Doug showed how much he loved Stella; he took her to chilly Iceland for whale watching, then back to Spain to thaw out! And then the trip to Tenerife, to capture the last of the sun.
Stella and Doug had so many lovely memories of the trips they had taken, and had more planned for next year.
Doug was a fiercely loyal man, devoted to family and friends. He enjoyed good food, good company and, after he gave up golf and badminton, he took great pride in his garden. His cry of “It’s Christmas!” will not soon be forgotten!
Tori, Stephen’s partner, remembers Doug as the most welcoming, kindest and funny of men.
He did most things his way, which usually turned out to be the right way. Well… except when he electrocuted himself changing a light bulb. Or when he fell off a ladder, cutting a tree branch. Or breaking the computer. Or…
He will be greatly missed… but the cry of “Stella, I’ve broken the computer!” won’t be.
Doug’s death was sudden, and a shock to everyone. He died in the middle of living; he lived until he died!
And only fools would wish is so
Memory is the yesterday that gives us courage for tomorrow
And that, my friends, was my Dad. A sun worshipper. A good man.
In 1992 I had taken a vacation in Florida and bought a cheap disposable camera (which is why these pictures aren’t so good). I had 4 shots left on it, so took these from my bedroom window in 1993. They show my Dad doing what he loved best; tending the garden and sleeping in the sun.