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Graham Yarrow Obituary

So the loss of Dads beloved Sheila was too much to bare. His life without her was no life worth living for him. He seemed to be coping well, taking daily walks, playing the piano, gardening and taking up table tennis again. But when you’ve lost the love of your life, the person who you’ve loved and cherished for over sixty years do any of us know how we would cope ? The days must be long, surrounded by memories and only your own company to share them with. Dads short term memory was also fading fast which he found incredibly frustrating. Ask him his army service number and that would be rattled off quick time but ask him what he had for breakfast and that would be a near impossibility.

So he took matters into his own hands while he had the capacity. He did not want to survive Mum and he did not want to leave their home of 45 years in anything other than in his own words ‘ his box. ‘ One was not in his hands the other certainly was and I for one admire him for taking the course of action that he did. Its one thing talking about it but quite another following through and I hope he has found the peace he must have been looking for.

Graham Yarrow was born 3rd October 1935 in Enfield. An unsettled childhood ensued. His parents were divorced by the time he was ten or eleven. I don’t know if he ever felt any stigma as a child of a broken home, divorce being quite uncommon in those times. However he talked of times spent in the Orchard in Grange Park fondly, exploring the woods, playing in the stream there and enjoying the outdoors in general. He attended Merryhills Primary School (as would Alan and I in later years ) and was progressing nicely when he was told that he was going to be sent away to a boarding school as his Mother found it increasingly hard to cope with as he described himself ‘ a lively child’. This decision was to have a long lasting detrimental effect on Dad. He hated the school, the regime and being away from his mother. His stay there was for about 18 months, but the memories and re-occouring nightmares would last for years after. In fact the nightmares would only recede once he found out much later in life that the school had been demolished. He returned home to Grange Park a different child one suspects. He carried on mainstream schooling in a technical school as he had missed the exam for grammar or secondary schooling whilst in the boarding school.

Dad talked of starting his working life in the draughtsroom of an oven manufacturer in Enfield but soon found he was ill suited to this and with help from his Uncle Edward, was found a position in the post room of an insurance company in the City. It was here that he was to meet his one true love. After completing his National Service in the Royal Artillery he returned to the insurance company and to pursue his relationship with my Mum. They married on 20th November 1957 at St. Andrews church in Enfield, set up home and carried on their careers in the world of Insurance. But Dad felt unfulfilled in his work life and explored other avenues, eventually deciding that teaching was for him. He turned out to be a quite brilliant teacher going on to specialise in teaching children with dyslexia which he found truly satisfying. Later in life he would receive letters from former students saying how much his teaching had helped shape and transform their lives. How many of us can say we have had that effect on anybodies life ? What a special gift and talent he had.

Around the time he started teaching I arrived followed by Alan 2 years later and so my parents family were complete. They were not huge socialisers preferring each others company doing things they enjoyed such as ballroom dancing. One thing that Dad did do on his own was table tennis. I don’t know when he started playing but he certainly talked of playing in the Insurance leagues of London. A break in playing came with his new career and children but he was to start again in the early 80s playing at Ellenborough table tennis club. He loved his table tennis, and through this I started to play, and in fact played with him in the same team along with Trevor and Judy, his long term team mates, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Later, Dad would take his grandchildren to Sunday morning table tennis training at Ellenborough, as I had done. Thomas and Alfie have carried on table tennis, playing in the local leagues where we now live and in fact this season the three of us played in the same team which was a very proud moment for me, and this comes from Dads encouragement.

I suppose on retirement Dad thought he could put his feet up but Alan and I were to find him a new career, that of Grandpa !! A devoted Grandpa to Thomas, Matthew, Jeremi and Alfie. He and Mum were to be a regular fixture in my boys lives in particular as they would child mind once a week for Donna and I. They would pick them up from school, take them to the park, play board games, read with them, and just be a loving, caring pair of Grandparents. The boys, I know will miss them both dreadfully.

So we will all have our memories of Dad and hope that you will remember the happy times that you had with him whatever the relationship. Be it Grandpa, daughter in law, sister, sister in law, cousin, neighbour, team mate or friend.

If there is something hereafter then I truly hope that Mum and Dad are together as they were when they first met. Young, carefree, beautiful and handsome.

Rest in Peace Dad.

Robert Yarrow

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