Philip McQuillan’s short book is not only wonderfully sweet, loving and deeply touching, it also raises a very important question:
“Who among us can remember, much less write even a scrap about the life of our grandfather’s uncle?”
As it so happens my family is struck with longevity; almost everybody, who did not die during the war, lived past their 90th birthday. That means that I personally knew one of my great-grandfathers and one of my great-grandmothers. However, since every able man had to serve during WWII I knew neither one of my grandfathers; both of them died at the Eastern Front, in Russia.
Which makes Philip McQuillan’s point – I know nothing about them! While I have heard some stories, I have no idea how they walked and talked, how they laughed and loved.
McQuillan decided to hinder that his father would become part of such a void; he is keeping his father alive – with a book. A wonderful writer Mc Quillan created a portrait, which lets “Big Philip” (his dad) become a part of every reader’s life:
“…He was a man of simple pleasures who loved reading, cooking and getting in a few rounds of golf or tennis. A swim in the ocean, a game of cards, classical music and great literature—these were a few of his favorite things. It always seemed that whatever he was doing, that was also his favorite thing. I have yet to meet anyone with so few dislikes, so few complaints and such a wonderful acceptance of life just as it is…”
It turns out that Big Philip also loved poetry and quoting famous authors (‘the masters’), he also read and reread them. Big Philip liked to prepare chicken (no dinner was complete without a bird), loved the lighthearted competition of a card game, and most certainly his vegetable garden. (The book includes a picture of Big Philip working the garden.)
As I am listing only these very few facts I am proving the author’s point: I know more about his dad than about my own grandfather.
I like this author’s dad. In particular I like the fact that “Big Philip” used special words to give his life and his perception of the world his flavor:
“… his own inimitable brand of understated humor. That, as you can see, was one of his favorite words. Inimitable—a wonderful word that describes him completely; truly he was one of a kind!...”
Big Philip also liked the word ‘connoisseur’ and to me it is clear that he was a connoisseur of life itself. It must have been the teaching of these special qualities, which made his son, “little Philip”, reach beyond just telling the story. ‘Little Philip’, now author Philip McQuillan, is encouraging his readers to participate and share stories about important people in their lives. I think it a wonderful idea. Grandfathers are supposed to be story tellers. Once their stories are written down they can stay story tellers forever. Seriously hoping that McQuillan can take such a project off the ground. In theory I could even see it as a sort of project for cultural understanding. Who knows what we could learn from grandfathers from different countries. Getting carried away I could even see this as a world-wide project for father’s day.
An awesome idea, Philip, keep on going! You are onto something!
Your book is highly recommended.
Gisela Hausmann, author & blogger
(review of free book)