Eulogy for David Charles Sowrey

The following was the eulogy read out at my father’s funeral. It was written by one of our closest family friends, Mrs. Claudette Robinson, who also did the reading.

David was a multi-talented man. What was his calling? Hmmm…let me see now…

Well, David was a salesman, a carpenter, or more precisely a cabinet-maker, a handyman, a poet, an architect, an engineer, an electrician, an auto mechanic, a painter, a plumber, a gardener, a boater, a traveler, a cook, a conversationalist, a connoisseur of impeccable scotch, (although he was fond of saying, how he had long ago given up on quality …it was quantity that mattered now…) an animal lover, a lover of classical music, and as we all know…an incredible host and a friend to all of us here and oh my… if you were a friend in need…was he ever a friend in deed! I would like to expand against this background.

David the Salesman:

When it came to heavy equipment David was a superb salesman. Not only did he sell equipment, he followed up on all his sales to make sure the equipment was functioning properly and those of us that knew his love of heavy machinery always suspected that he was also making sure that his beloved machines were properly maintained with 15W40 and not abused in any way. David practically adopted all his customers and became indispensable to them. I was just driving by he would say to his customers and thought I would drop in and … by the way…when was the last time you changed the oil on that sucker uh?

David the Cabinet Maker:

The Sowrey’s residence is material proof of David’s prowess as a carpenter… witness the kitchen cupboards, the bay windows, the oak floors, the oak railing, the deck, the wine rack, the greenhouse, the stairs, the new washroom, the built in furniture in Geoff and Cathy’s room, the kitchen table, the tile countertops the made to measure bar drawer with special heavy duty sliders…to name but a few. The sauna has remained to this day, an unfinished project something unusual for David. I personally suspect that after a few years of waiting for its completion Linda finally decided to store all her files in this space and this, in my mind, prompted David to decide (and you will have to excuse me here for wanting to quote him precisely) To Fuck the sauna!

David was a perfectionist who paid great attention to details and showed incredible patience when working on a project. He did not enjoy working alone and his most faithful gopher a.k.a. Linda was always there to fetch a tool for him or as she would say: in case he needs another pair of hands. Time meant nothing to David when he started on something nor did lunch hour and I must admit that occasionally Linda was seen rolling her eyes and shaking her head (she was probably starving!) to which David’s typical response would be: Now Linda…don’t get your tit in the wringer!

This expression that he loved to use was always accepted with a grin except the one time that David (perhaps under the influence, but I ‘m not sure of that…) made and error in judgment and used it on his very proper Scottish mother Bea…

Oh my! If looks could kill we would have lost David on that very day many years ago.

David the Electrician:

Electricity fascinated David and he could wire anything! Pot lights, spotlights, central vacuums, stoves, appliances, speakers, anything in fact under 1200 volts. Some of his less capable friends, jealous no doubt of his multi skills, actually blamed his mid winter tan (noticed on his hands and face only) to a jolting experience. This by the way has never been confirmed and I personally find it shocking (if you will excuse the pun) that someone would even think of this…sheeesh…his hair never even sprung curls …to my knowledge (as David would say).

David the Painter:

David could paint anything and wallpaper anything as well. That was the easy part, what he did in preparation however was something else and being his helper required the patience of Job, those walls were so clean …thank you TSP that it hardly seemed necessary to paint them when he was through with the preparation. He did the cutting out…the rolling, and the cleaning of all equipment afterwards. I did notice though that when putting up wallpaper, the plumb lines were not as straight at the end of the day as they had been at the beginning…. Hmmm I am not a hundred percent sure (as David would say) what to attribute that too.

David the Poet:

It seems to me that David was one of those rare persons whose both sides of the brain worked equally well. Not only was David brilliant at math and figures and conversions but he was also very artistic (a trait he undoubtedly inherited from his dad). If the mood struck him, David could whip up a poem at a moment’s notice witness his earlier Xmas letters and he could pen a fine letter “to boot” as he would say and did I mention his calligraphy skills? And so on and so forth…again as David was fond of saying…

David the Gardener:

David embraced gardening with his usual enthusiasm and the green house, first ours, and then theirs, opened a new world to him. He had the patience, not to mention the moral fortitude to plant with the help of tweezers over a million individual seeds every year. This whole process began in January and continued until the 24th of May weekend. This period, by the way, was noted as being very beneficial to LCBO stores and to DuMaurier stockholders as David spent an incredible amount of time nurturing his plants and watching them grow as he sipped his scotch and enjoyed a smoke.

David the Car Lover:

The Wheel’s section of the Star was David’s favourite reading of the week and with his incredible memory he would, over a few drinks of scotch or a beer,or a cognac relate to Don all the new things happening in the car industry. He loved cars and owned so many of them over the years that when I inquired from his family for a list of his cars (my guestimate is that he had over 20 of them in his lifetime) they told me it would be easier rather than to list them to just mention that he never owned a Volvo …He looked after his car as a treasured and valued possession a quality he passed on to Geoff and Cathy when they became car owners…You change your oil every 6 months or 5000 kilometers and only use 15W40…That’s what they use in back hoes and they work so warm it up for 20 minutes in the winter… For Christ sake!

[Ed. Note: Actually, Dad *did* own a Volvo. If that’s not an indication of how many cars he owned, I don’t know what is.]

David not only loved cars but also loved driving and his favourite retirement plan was to travel to a warmer southern location and find an RV park. When I inquired as to what he did once he got there he responded: Oh… just shoot the shit with the old farts…

David the Boater:

David was in his element on the water. He loved it! He loved boating and owned two large boats, namely Mamicat and Calvados. With his usual generous invitations to friends to come on board and have a few, he once again maintained a buoyant economy for Canada all through his boat ownership years.

David the Animal Lover:

David had a soft spot in his heart for all animals and in his lifetime he owned 3 pussy cats, 4 dogs and for the last few years a granddog: Bear. He gave them treats, brushed them, washed them and talked to them, loved them and disciplined them: No Puss Puss, you can’t have your dinner! It’s not 4:30 yet! This discipline however was not applied to friends when they dropped by in the morning. David would in his usual inviting way say: Sit down dammit and have a drink! But it’s only 10 o’clock David…Well it’s past noon in Newfoundland! Now do you want Rimmer or not?

David the Conversationalist:

David could talk to anybody on any subject especially from an historical viewpoint. His most animated conversations were on politics and politicians most of whom he had limited regard for… He was fond of saying: They couldn’t organize a pissup in a brewery for Christ sake!

David had a colorful way with language and if you will indulge me for a few more seconds, I would like to share or remind you of some Davidisms (to coin a word): These are direct quotes and were such a part of David that none of us will ever hear these again without being reminded of him. My apologies if anyone is offended by them…

  • Well…To be brutally honest…I don’t give a damn!
  • Hmmmm…. I’m not a hundred percent sure of that…
  • I don’t give a sweet rat’s ass!
  • If my memory serves me right…
  • In a pig’s arse!

And his all time favourite:

Oh fuck that! Let’s have a drink!

In closing, we will remember David mostly as the generous, kind, giving, helpful, friend that he was to all of us. I doubt that any friend oh his in this room did not receive his help at one time or another…

Obviously I have missed some things, but as David was prone to say when he felt that you already knew the end of his story:

Tra la tra la tra la….

Death of David Charles Sowrey

If you had told me that I would one day dread hearing the tune to Auld Lang Syne at five o’clock in the morning, I’d have thought you crazy.

But like many things that I thought not possible, this is precisely what happened.

Early on the 15th of February, Dad suffered a stroke, a result (assumedly) of his brain tumour. This put his health more into question, and bought me to Oakville on the 20th. I visited with my family, and tried to spend time with my father.

I didn’t sleep well while I was at home. But upon returning to Calgary, I slept considerably worse. At first, I assume it was because of a cold that I had developed while in Oakville. But things didn’t get much better after the cold had cleared up.

This morning, I realized why I couldn’t sleep. I was expecting a phone call. “The call.” My cell phone is programmed to play the tune to Auld Lang Syne when it received a call from my parent’s phone number. That is precisely what happened at 5:14:53am MST. It was Cathy. There was only one reason why she’d call at that time.

David Charles Sowrey passed away this morning, finally succumbing to the cancer which had spread though his body. My father is gone.

I don’t think it’s hit me yet. Aside from some heartfelt best wishes, it’s been … easy. But I’m probably still a little numb, and I haven’t been home yet.

Well, I haven’t been to Oakville yet. I can’t go “home” anymore. Home doesn’t exist anymore — not like it used to be. My father is dead, and with him dies my sense of “home”.

It is only one of many changes to come this year. It’s by far one of the largest, and of the most significant. But it’s a welcome change. At least now Dad can rest — his pain is gone, his worries ended. And Mom and Cathy can try to get back to their lives — once they’ve … once we’ve recovered from the loss.

I cannot say “goodbye” — I don’t believe in them when someone is that close to you. His memory and spirit will live on, and will be a part of me for the rest of my life. I will not say goodbye, for I will never give him up.

May you rest in peace, dear father. Find in death the peace you could not have in life.