Then Sings My Soul; A Tribute to my friend Roy McNeil March 14, 1947 to January 14, 2011

The Unbossiest Boss

A recent photo

The Smile and the Twinkle...and the beer!

He was so handsome and so very proud that day Kathleen.

A much younger Roy out ladies!

Perhaps, as a tribute to Roy,  you would like to play the song on the player below as it was one of Roy's favourites.

Oh Lord, my god..when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder...thy power throughout the universe displays...then sings my soul, my saviour God to thee....How Great thou art, How Great thou art.

When I, in awesome wonder, consider Roy McNeil, this song is the first thing that comes to mind.  Roy loved old hymns and quite often this one stumbled from those grinning lips unbidden as he went about his business of helping out a friend or flirting with the ladies.

Yesterday, Roy slipped away from this world and is now in another, far freer, more peaceful and joyful one unencumbered by silly human physical limitations.  Roy's heart ceased to beat so his spirit could soar.  He took that journey surrounded by love and family and the prayers of a multitude of friends.  No man could ask for more and none was more deserving.

I was talking to Kathleen, his daughter as she sat vigil with him,  and she told me he would be going to see God soon.  And I said to her, "when you really think about it...that's exciting for him...sad for all the rest of us but awesomesauce for your dad!"

Leave it to Roy to find the best party while we're all just sitting here!

Now.  To describe Roy. Mission Impossible but I'll give it a go!

Roy was, above all, a giving man.  I think his get up in the morning philosophy was, "who can I help out today?"  He helped people move, helped them move again, drove them places, gave them his car, took them into his home, invited them to his home(his place was a 24/7 open house).  God knows how much  money  he loaned to people, God only knows how much he simply gave.  He just did this.  There was a need.  There was Roy.  People were concerned he would be taken advantage of.  He never really was concerned about that.

Roy was  a happy man.  That saucy twinkle in his eye, that mischievous grin as he took a sip of his drink, pure happiness.  It was infectious, it was attractive, it was one hundred percent Roy.  People loved him.  It was hard not to.  Impossible really.  When I look at all of the parties I've gone to at his house over the years, there is always a mix of new friends he had just made but over and over the same old friends would show up.  I myself knew him for over 20 years and to go to Roy's last summer was a repeat of the first summer at his pool.  Welcome, have a drink, did you get something to eat? Smile.

In case you are unaware, Roy was also a boob man.  Yes.  I know, shocking.  You thought this was going to be a "sad, weep for Roy, he's gone piece,"  But that's not Roy.  He would prefer I tell it the way it was, and truth is, yup, he was a boob man!

I remember how he tried to peek as I nursed my baby on my way to Newfoundland(he gave me a ride there 16 years ago with my two older girls). And he didn't do it secretly,  nope, overt peeking with a grin and a "I'm a red blooded man, Carolyn!" as I smacked him away with laughter.

Over the years, I don't think I ever visited him without some request from him to take a peek.  I remember a few years back when I was sleeping over and Roy got up to go to the bathroom and missed the door and fell headlong down the stairs.

He was seriously injured.  His hand went through a glass picture and his head went through the drywall.  He had a mild concussion and required stitches in both his hand and his head.  I was working quickly to assess the injuries, bandage him up, stop the bleeding and apply some first aid before he went to the emergency room for treatment.  Then I noticed he was white and shaking and I said, "Roy, you're in shock," directing someone to get something to wrap him in to warm him up. 

Without missing a beat, with his devilish grin and twinkling blue eyes,  he said, "I'm in shock that I got this close to your beautiful breasts!" 

Dear Lord, how are you supposed to pull drywall chips out of a man's forehead with tweezers after that? 

Even during my most recent visit, he joked that he might not have long to live and that I should finally let him take a gander at the girls.  When I protested, "Roy, what about your weak ticker?" he grinned and said, "It might shock it into working right or it might stop it, I'll take me chances!"  Perhaps I should have yelled "CLEAR", hauled out my big old defibrillators and gave him a show!

Since I'm being straightforward here,  I'll just come out and say the truth of it.  Roy loved women.  He was an incorrigible flirt!   He had numerous girlfriends in the years I knew him.  I did notice though, that the women he dated were always great people.  Warm, loving, intelligent.  He had great taste in women.  And he loved them all.  It wasn't like he was this big, mean, manipulative player, he truly enjoyed their company.  And many, if not all of the women he dated and loved throughout the years, remained his close friends long after their romance was over and that is rare.  I think it was because Roy was so easy to love, but just as important, he was so easy to like.

Roy was, above all, a family man.  He was a dad.  He truly loved his children.  I watched him over the years and he was the kind of dad that just sort of loved his kids for who they are.  I never heard him criticize them  for their choices and to me, when he spoke of either of them it was never with disapproval.  They really could do no wrong.  He loved them, they loved him. He was dad and that was it.  It was probably one of the easiest parent/child dynamics I've ever seen.  And it shows in the dedication they all have shown to him over the course of his illness.  His strong, quiet acceptance is  the best gift a dad can give to his children and they'll miss that most of all in their daily lives.  And a testement to that is how well all of his children have turned out.  All are truly remarkable in their own right and, not to subtract anything from their moms' but I think it's because they carry a lot of Roy in them.

It is hard to get to the depth of a man with words on paper or on a screen.  I know how his spirit felt when you were in the room with him.  I knew he loved people and life and laughter and a drink of rye.  He sparkled like the sun glistening on the ocean in the moments before sunset.  He moved easily through life and enjoyed its gifts fully.  He never seemed to worry much or think much of the past.  He lived the moments as they came and I'm told he smiled even in that last moment.  The words, "then sings my soul," describe him best, because his soul did sing long before it left his body, its voice and rhythm moving outside of him and touching all who knew him.

He was a great man.  But most of all he was a good man.  He is loved and will always be loved.

And he will be greatly missed.  Someone said, "it's the end of an era," and that is how I feel.  Roy was more than a man, he was an experience.  Rest in Peace, my friend.

Thank you to Roy's family for your invitation to read this tribute at his memorial service on Tuesday.  I am honoured.


Anonymous said…
Thank you Carolyn. Great tribute!
That was Roy. A good man, A giving man, A family man, A ladies man, and oh yes a boob man! lol. I will miss his mischeivious smile, his sense of humour, his big heart. He has past his caring nature and undying wit onto his children... A part of him will always live on. Rest in peace dear friend.
Sherry Smyth
Oh Sherry, won't we miss him so? It's hard to believe somehow. Yes he will live on in the family he left.

RNSANE said…
Of course,I didn't know, Roy, Carolyn, but I feel like I did after this lovely tribute and description you wrote. I am sorry that the world lost thi wonderful man. My heart goes out to his family, his friends, and to you. His memory will live forever.