Paul, a teacher, who died of cancer at the age of 45 in November 2009. When he knew he was dying, there was no time for self-pity. He became absolutely focused on doing whatever he could to continue being a good dad to them throughout the years, even though he wouldn’t be here in person.
He wrote this for his children….
Be courteous, be punctual, always say please and thank you, and be sure to hold your knife and fork properly. Others take their cue on how to treat you from your manners.
Be kind, considerate and compassionate when others are in trouble, even if you have problems of your own. Others will admire your selflessness and will help you in due course.
Show moral courage. Do what is right, even if that makes you unpopular. I always thought it important to be able to look at myself in the shaving mirror every morning and not feel guilt or remorse. I depart this world with a pretty clear conscience.
Show humility. Stand your ground but pause to reflect on what the other side are saying, and back off when you know you are wrong. Never worry about losing face. That only happens when you are pig-headed.
Learn from your mistakes. You will make plenty so use them as a learning tool. If you keep making the same mistake or run into a problem, you’re doing something wrong.
Avoid disparaging someone to a third party; it is only you who will look bad. If you have a problem with someone, tell them face to face.
Hold fire! If someone crosses you, don’t react immediately. Once you say something it can never be taken back, and most people deserve a second chance.
Have fun. If this involves taking risks, so be it. If you get caught, hold your hands up.
Give to charity and help those who are less fortunate than yourselves: it’s easy and so rewarding.
Always look on the upside! The glass is half full, never half empty. Every adversity has a silver lining if you seek it out.
Make it your instinct always to say ‘yes’. Look for reasons to do something, not reasons to say no. Your friends will cherish you for that.
Be canny: you will get more of what you want if you can give someone more of what they desire. Compromise can be king.
Always accept a party invitation. You may not want to go, but they want you there. Show them courtesy and respect.
Never ever let a friend down. I would bury bodies for my friends, if they asked me to . . . which is why I have chosen them carefully.
Always tip for good service. It shows respect. But never reward poor service. Poor service is insulting.
Always treat those you meet as your social equal, whether they are above or below your station in life. For those above you, show due deference, but don’t be a sycophant.
Always respect age, as age equals wisdom.
Be prepared to put the interests of your sibling first.
Be proud of who you are and where you come from, but open your mind to other cultures and languages. When you begin to travel (as I hope you will), you’ll learn that your place in the world is both vital and insignificant. Don’t get too big for your breeches.
Be ambitious, but not nakedly so. Be prepared to back your assertions with craftsmanship and hard work.
Live every day to its full: do something that makes you smile or laugh, and avoid procrastination.
Give of your best at school. Some teachers forget that pupils need incentives. So if your teacher doesn’t give you one, devise your own.
Always pay the most you can afford. Never skimp on hotels, clothing, shoes, make-up or jewellery. But always look for a deal. You get what you pay for.
Never give up! My two little soldiers have no dad, but you are brave, big-hearted, fit and strong. You are also loved by an immensely kind and supportive team of family and friends. You make your own good fortune, my children, so battle on.
Never feel sorry for yourself, or at least don’t do it for long. Crying doesn’t make things better.Look after your body and it will look after you.
Learn a language, or at least try. Never engage a person abroad in conversation without first greeting them in their own language; by all means ask if they speak English!
And finally, cherish your mother, and take very good care of her.