At times like this, it’s always difficult to know quite where to start. How to attempt in a short space of time to try and sum up an extraordinary life.
Well, while looking for a notebook to jot my thoughts I inadvertently knocked a box of children's chess pieces off one of our book shelves. And as the pieces flew every which way and the lid fell to the floor, the answer lay there staring me in the face. Because in the corner of the broken hinged lid my eye fell upon the spidery handwriting of a child. In clear pencil the words were quite legible. They read: A. M.Pearl, Avondale Road, Liverpool.
Dad would probably have been no more than ten years of age when he left his mark on the lid. And it’s touching that a piece of his childhood should manifest itself in our children's world of board games two generations later.
One of eight children, he was brought up in Liverpool’s poorest back streets and had no formal education to speak of. Indeed, I remember him telling me that some of his teachers were the poor wretched souls who had seen action in the trenches of the first world war and were still suffering the effects of shell shock. But despite the obvious hardships, he never spoke a bad word about his childhood and bore no grudges over the very obvious lack of opportunities that presented themselves. Indeed, his memories of childhood were always recounted with great affection. One gets a sense that any shortfalls in material possessions were more than made up for by a loving family environment. And I guess it was these formative years that helped shape those qualities that we remember him for. His modesty, generosity of spirit, selflessness and desire to help others. These were traits that certainly carried his name.
He will always remain in my memory as a remarkable husband to our dear mother – caring for her right up until he went into the home three weeks ago; an incredibly supportive father to his two sons; a loving grandpa to his four grandchildren who he adored; and a cherished friend to so many. And today as we remember him for his generosity, wisdom and good humour, I’m comforted by the thought that these qualities will undoubtedly live on. Because in no small way, he left his mark on all of us.
Alex Pearl is author of Sleeping with the Blackbirds