I remember one day a few years ago looking around a cemetery with Dad. We were researching our family name together. I heard my Dad say something like ‘Oh my God” and looked up to see him appearing very pale and shocked. He was looking at a headstone that read “Charles Neville Vasey”. What was astonishing was that this Charles Neville Vasey had been born in the same year as our Dad but died quite young. Dad was shaken but I know he was also very happy to have lived so much longer than his namesake.
I can truly say that I have never met anyone like my Dad. He somehow found a way to develop and share interests with all three of his sons no matter how different we were. Whether it was walking down the beach together looking for stones, digging medieval pottery from old sand pits, or looking for old Roman roads – all of these things created and developed an interest in geology and history that has, in the end, shaped my life and I know that my brothers can find many similar examples specific to them. He was a true mentor who always encouraged, through example, each of us to attain to the best we could be and then, in later life, became our best friend.I could tell you all so many stories about him. How I would come home from school with a puncture and he would ask if I was going to fix it. I’d say maybe at the weekend or something. The next morning there would be my bike… all fixed and ready. How he wrote to me in college telling me that, whether I passed or failed, he was proud of me because he actually knew how scared I was to fail. How he was still putting up curtain rails and shelves for me well into his late 70’s. Dad was amazing. His sense of humor and his ability to create things from nothing – working canons that really shot tennis balls, the first mobile phone made many years ago from little light bulbs, photosensitive cells and a couple of old phones, the Dalek he made, the working electric car… the list is endless. He was a truly multi-talented and multi-faceted man with a sharp mind and a curiosity that drove him to read almost every book in the local library! He could talk on almost any subject to anyone….
Dad’s life had some tough periods early on and, because he was an intensely private man, this may not be widely known. He lost both his mother and his brother within months of each other and I know that that made him more determined and capable of enjoying his own family. He had a good and happy life even to the end and he was much admired for those unselfish acts of kindness he showed to many of us. He was the true role model that a Father, husband, friend and son should be.
Dad was also ‘psychic’ but he kept this supressed. His mother had been a medium and Dad told us that when he was a small boy, Mum had asked him and his younger brother if they would like to see her guide. She apparently promptly changed visibily before them into a chinese man – not an experience he found at all encouraging and this experience kept him from exploring his own spirtuality and abilities too greatly.
My Dad’s life was filled with activity. He traveled, he explored, he learned and he always found a way to be mischievious. He was able to develop good relationships with almost anyone and took it upon himself to be proactive when it came to helping those around him. He wasn’t one to be idle and kept himself busy often with projects in the shed that produced those marvels or by solving intractable problems with his keen insight and indisputable logic. He also had a good memory which meant that 30 seconds into TV movies you would often hear him say in disgust “This has been on before…” and he would then retreat to a good book or to the shed to do something more interesting.
If Dad had been born a little later I am pretty sure that he would have easily navigated through college and become a technologist where he could explore that curiosity and create even larger marvels. I like to think that last Tuesday his curiosities about life and the Universe were finally resolved. I’m pretty sure his first question on arrival in heaven was probably about global warming!
I’m so pleased that he made it back to the Czech Republic this year. He liked Brno a lot and what other man of his age would try to learn Czech! He was well the entire week, enjoyed the food and company and even had a few beers down the pub with his eldest son. That’s how I shall remember him… a happy, unselfish man who even at the age of 82 insisted on paying the tab.
God bless you Dad.