Malcolm Stanley Reynolds. 10th December 1933 – 31st December 2014.
A Life Well Lived
15th January 2015
To William and Ethel, a son.
Husband. Father. Brother. Grandfather. Uncle. A mentor, benefactor and example to so many.
He has had a wonderful life.
It is a wonderful life, alive in the hearts and memories of all who knew him, especially those of us that love him.
For us it is as a legend, almost a fairy tale of romance, nobility and triumph against all the odds. That is why, though very emotional, I can feel no sadness at my father’s story; only joy, pride, satisfaction at a life so well lived. Would that we could all cross the finish line in first place, for my father has the gold medal around his neck and he is our champion.
Until the build-up to war in 1938, William, my grandfather, could not get regular shifts at the steelworks in Newport. There was no food on the table and my father was severely malnourished. 50 years later after winning a scholarship to Oxford, in union with the woman he adored every minute of his life, he was at the top of his profession: one of the leading commercial lawyers in the UK, an extraordinary achievement, a measure of our time.
Yet nothing mattered to my father except family. That’s not that it was more important than anything else. It was all that mattered.
So we have had our fair share of petty squabbles and division but never, not once, has he, nor my mother, been diverted from a deep and abiding love for each one of us. For his five children, he provided the total security, material and emotional, that enabled us to go out into the world and make our own mistakes, achieve our own successes in which he took so much pride.
My earliest memory is of him hopping down the path of our bungalow in Gorleston to a waiting ambulance having put a garden fork through his foot. Hugh was not yet born, so I was younger than 18 months old but I remember it like yesterday.
We all have special memories. It is impossible to pick between them. I recall him taking me on my first visit to the cinema, the Acocks Green Odeon, to see Zulu – and the great Welsh pride in that. Later, I recall seeing James Bond films with him and he introduced me to the books, including the naughty bits, so risqué and daring at the time.
In 1970, I accompanied Dad as a VIP guest to the Alcan Open, a golf tournament in County Dublin. We were both mischievously plied with drink, me having just passed 13, and we nearly missed our plane home.
In the past year of his life he endured the tragedy of Jonathan’s untimely death. With great dignity he has led this family to where we are today. Nothing has ever given me more pride than to take him to his last formal occasion in October when he saw my son, Richard, called to the bar. I know he was equally overjoyed a few weeks later to visit Jacob at his college in Oxford.
What characterises my father’s life throughout is enormous generosity, both of spirit and in material terms. Even to those who had wronged him or against whom he had just cause for complaint, he has always been there, always a ready hand to those in times of need.
Indivisible from my father’s life is his union with my mother which transcends death as much as any relationship ever can. I believe his love and legacy will sustain her forever. They deserve each other as much as the night deserves the sunrise. Nothing will ever extinguish what is between them.
Dad often used to speak in French. I’m not sure why but I fondly remember being called John-Pierre or John-P. So I will never say goodbye to him. Instead, the French express it so much better: au revoir mon pere.