There’s a phase of adulthood where you only tend to meet old friends and family en masse at weddings… then later some will gather for baptisms, or other ways of marking the arrival of children… Later still, around the time that those children’s weddings become the focus of such gatherings, there are also, sadly meetings at the funerals of parents.
Yesterday, for me, was a day definitely in that third phase, as Sally and I attended Thanksgiving Services for the lives of the fathers of 2 different friends. In both cases the pain of my friends’ loss was relieved both by the faith shared by them and the fathers, and the fact that both men had lived long and active lives that did not end in overly prolonged illness. At both services a member of the family, a granddaughter at one and a son-in-law at the other, paid fitting and funny tributes to the deceased, and I suppose it was the second of them that made me compare and contrast things with the life and funeral of my own father, Thomas James Campton.
Whilst adulthood tends to come in the phases outlined above, there are exceptions (and as the years go on, with marriage and family life not fitting into old patterns the exceptions may become the norm). In the case of our family, only 1 of our boys’ grandparents is still living, with one, Sally’s father Bob, dying before we were married (indeed before our official engagement), my mum Margaret, dying before either boy was born (just as I entered theological college), and my dad dying 17 years ago yesterday. So you could see why I would start to make comparisons.
One of the most poignant songs in the current mega-hit musical “Hamilton” asks “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?” so given that I still have a few days left before I go back to work after my sabbatical I thought I would spend a wee bit of time telling the little I know of Thomas James Campton’s story. It’s not particularly dramatic or unusual (he’s no Hamilton) but everyone’s story deserves to be shared, so I’m going to set down his here over a couple of days, if for no other reason that perhaps his grandsons might stumble onto this at some point in the future and learn a little of a man that they never really had the opportunity to know.