The funeral was yesterday. It was a great send off. The husband of the eldest child did the eulogy and spoke eloquently of Lionel’s great character and personality, and his abiding love for his wife and family. The youngest son spoke about the things that made Lionel a great dad. The eldest grand-daughter spoke of Lionel, the grandpa, who made the kids laugh, spoilt them rotten and loved them to bits. The eldest great grand-daughter spoke simply of her funny popsie, who made them laugh and who loved trains. She finished simply with, “He was a great man.”
He certainly was. Admittedly, he wasn’t ‘great’ as the world defines it. He wasn’t wealthy. He didn’t have any power. He didn’t live his life in the glare of the media. He didn’t tweet inanities into the cosmos in an attempt to gain ‘followers’. He did have a webpage but it was devoted to his love of trains. Thousands of train enthusiasts from all over the world loved that page. My husband will continue to maintain it, in his honour.
So, how was he ‘great’?
I could talk of his role as amateur historian for the township of Peterborough. (I only use ‘amateur’ in the sense that he wasn’t paid.) The town’s historical society have dedicated a whole room to the Lionel Noble collection.
I could talk of his vast knowledge of trains and how they worked, but the Railway History group can do that better than me.
I could speak of his skill as a pigeon racer, or as a wonderful singer, or as a Sunday school teacher, or even his ability to speak ‘cow’. (He’d bellow and every single time the cows would come running. He once led a herd of cows through a country town, simply by mooing every now and then.)
I believe that what made him great was his love and compassion for other people. He made every one he met feel special and appreciated. He took the time to remain in contact with people for years and years. He’d faithfully write hundreds of letters – and in the latter years of his life, emails – every week to his family, his past workmates, the wives of deceased workmates, and even people in foreign countries who were trying to improve their English.
He was humble to the point of almost being paranoid about getting any attention.
He was generous but he preferred that no one knew about it.
He loved life and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even in his last days, he was quick to smile.
He had a great sense of fun, loved a good joke and delighted in making his family and friends, laugh.
He spread peace and love into the world.
Noble in name and noble in character.
I’m privileged to have known him. I’m sorry he’s gone but I live with the hope that I’ll see him again.
He was a great man.