My father passed away earlier this week.
He was a truly wonderful man – taught me to ride a bike, swim, and always do my best for others. He was a brilliant gymnast and high-board diver. By the age of ten I could dive off the 10meter board in the local pool (couldn’t do it now tho). He once dived into a river and saved a woman from drowning whose car veered in and landed upside down.
As a teacher, he worked with the most challenging kids in school, doing his best to get them back on track. Years later I met so many teaching assistants who loved him and said he changed their lives.
He was a true old-fashioned hero in every sense of the word, who’d gladly give up everything he had to help others. Right to the very end he held a deep socialist belief that we could change the world if only everyone would work together.
His favourite song was Imagine by John Lennon.
Even though he lived such a healthy life, 25yrs ago he underwent massive open heart surgery, and then 23yrs ago was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Still, he kept himself so active and well. Conversely, these illnesses gave him the focus to pull forward his retirement dream of moving to France and he lived fifteen blissful years there with his amazing wife, Sue, before they returned to Cymru. Nobody thought he’d make it this far, but he had such a gift for creating beauty out of the most impossible situations.
Witnessing him do this was absolutely an inspiration to us when planning to move into the van. You can’t wait for tomorrow to live the life you want because you don’t know what tomorrow holds. Work towards your dreams right now.
I feel so deeply honoured to have this man for my father – he was such a generous, kind soul, and a staunch environmentalist. In the evenings, he would sit on the bench outside his French farmhouse and watch the bats and fireflies for hours ❤️🌿💚🌳
Love you Noel McKeand, the best dad, granddad, and great-granddad. 💔
(Old photo is of me and dad, the others are of him with his granddaughter Rhi who he loved so much; taught her to ride a bike too – he owned a bike shop for a while.)