Truthfully, it’s hard to come up with something sensible to say about Fin. The first reason is that he was a man of few words. It seems wrong to offer hundreds of words in tribute to someone who thought just a few dozen words were more than enough for the remarkable occasion of his 100th birthday.
The second reason relates to that. Fin lived for over 100 years. He had a perspective that none of us are ever likely to match. How on earth are you supposed to sum up all that living, all that change, all those things that happened? It seems hard enough to live through it, let all alone try to capture it.
But somewhere in there is the clue. Fin made a success of his life because he always knew exactly who he was. In ten decades of living, he never let what other people thought get in the way of what he knew was the right thing to do at that moment. He had a certainty about his life that I can only envy.
And his life threw up a lot of challenges. Fin wasn’t even three months old when his father, George Kidman, passed away. George never saw his son; he was on the road for a droving job in Queensland when Fin was born in 1915.
I often think about that. However tough we might find Fin’s passing, we all had a good chunk of 100 years of him. He never even had 100 seconds with his own father.
Yet he had a loving family, always. From his mother, Isabella; to his aunts Kate and Sheila, absolute rocks of his young life; to his wives, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his in-laws, everyone along every branch. And he inspired that same devotion in others.
We knew he was there, always, in this house in Darlington, watering his garden, a man of routine. What had to be done was done.
Fin embraced certainty. He was always certain himself. And sometimes certainty meant doing things that other people might judge too difficult, too uncertain.
He was the first member of his family to go to university, but also the first to decide that wasn’t the right path for him. He married and had a child, but when that marriage faltered, he didn’t let 1950s morality trap him.
Nor did he let that stop him expanding his family when he married again. When new branches were added, he accepted that, accepted them, and kept going. There was no question, he was certain: that was the right thing to do.
So what’s the right thing to do today? To acknowledge a man who has been a huge part of all our lives; to celebrate all that he brought to us; and to recognise that even if he is no longer with us, his memories will live on with us forever. Of that much, even I am absolutely certain.