Well, Elin had not one, but two Valentines this year! Gifts from two gorgeous lads in her class, what a lucky lady! Of course, as regular blog readers will know, he heart belongs to Llew though. She sent him a Valentines too and a 'best friend' Valentines to her other suitor which Elin and I agreed was a nice compromise so as not to upset him too much :-) I think it's amazing that other parents and the school staff engage in this exchanging of tokens of love, its just another way of treating the kids the same as any other and as a Mum it is so cute I could cry. Why shouldn't Elin have a Valentine after all? She's definitely loveable enough :-) :-) So it was lovely to receive these gifts yesterday and we both had a bit of a tear in our eye as we displayed them in her room I have to say.
However, it was a bit of a bittersweet day today. February the 14th is usually a day for love, and today was no exception for us, but in a slightly different way than you would hope. Today was the funeral of Paul's Uncle Stan, for those of you who remember my post about Paul's two amazing Aunty's from Liverpool, Stan was married to his Aunty Sylvia. He died last week at 89, a couple of weeks shy of his Diamond Wedding Anniversary. He was born and bred in Liverpool, right next to Anfield on Sleepers Hill. In a close family he was much more than just an Uncle to Paul and his two brothers and he was a wonderful father to his own three sons. Stan was the most gentle and caring man you could meet but he was also hilarious, adopting that dry Scouse humour that is so unique to the area. He would literally have you in tucks. Of course, arriving somewhat late to the extensive Drake clan I didn't meet Stan until he was already 75. It was amazing today to learn so much more about him (particularly as a young man) and I realised I was hearing stuff I had no idea about as is so often surely the case when a life of 90 years is condensed into a few minutes of speech. He served in the Merchant Navy from 16 years of age, earning many medals. 30,000 Liverpudlian Seamen were killed on the Merchant Ships during WW2, which is a figure I can hardly comprehend. Stan was not one of them, thank god. After finishing in the Navy Stan spent the rest of his working life as a printer alongside Paul's Dad Tony, who got him the job. ,He had many hobbies and adventures throughout his life. But the true love of Stans life, as anyone who knew him would have told you, was his family (closely followed of course by Liverpool football club) . I had thought that it was incredibly sad to have a Funeral on Valentines day- completely incongruous . But I was wrong, it turned out to be probably the most fitting. On a day meant to celebrate love (according to Hallmark at least!) I think we did end up celebrating the best kind of love. Selfless, enduring, gentle, humorous, proud, unassuming and strong. And that was Stan, that's how he was. Did everyone talk today about how good he was at his job, or how much money he had or how many holidays he enjoyed or whatever? No. We all talked about how he loved and was loved and how he made us all split our sides with a strategically placed one-liner, right up until the end. The values he gave his sons, the legacy he created with his love of life. On Valentines Day I don't think we could have witnessed a more appropriate message. Stan contributed so much to Pauls life growing up and all the surrounding family. His love will go further than he will ever know. As the Captain of the many Merchant Ships Stan sailed during the War would announce at docking into port every home-coming "Switch off the engines. Your work is done" .
Stan, your work is definitely done and none of us will ever forget it. Thank you.