TOBY JARVIS EULOGY
Earlier this week, I stood by the Church gate as the sun was sinking, looking across to Home Farm, thinking of Toby. It is a view that can have barely changed, since 48 years ago, when Toby brought home one Mary East from Longthorpe as his young bride, to start married life in a caravan in the yard of Home Farm.. Life was hard on farms in those days and it was no different for Toby and Mary. Most people think that Toby had earned Mary, having bicycled in all weathers, and latterly driven across the park in the milk delivery van, for the previous six years to court her, sometimes in the company of people like Eric Jinks who is carrying the cross today. It is a view that can hardly have changed since Toby was born, albeit at Belsize. It was a view that was to remain the centre of his life. Jarvis corner someone called it, for Mary and Toby were to be one of 13 Mr & Mrs Jarvises in Marholm village, where the three brothers, Toby, Stan and Peter lived and farmed; and where Toby and Mary reared Wendy, Andrew and Martin. Where beloved grandchildren came to play, for Toby adored all seven of them.
Of his 69 years, I have only known Toby for six, and for nearly four of them, he fought a desperate and determined battle, with courage and dignity and quiet faith. I slowly learnt things about Toby that most of you here have known for years. And the hymns and readings chosen by the family can speak better than I can about Toby. For Toby too, was a man of trust that no cares could destroy. His illness might have overcome his body but its cares never changed him. He was a man of direct faith, whose hands too, were skilled at the plane and the lathe. If life had been other he would have been a carpenter. Each of the brothers brought different gifts to the farm, and one of Toby’s gifts was that of craftsmanship. Even a month ago he was still welding in the yard. There is one Stan’s forks at 1 Church walk, repaired only a few weeks ago, but needing to cleaned and oiled before handing back ; – for Toby was meticulous about caring for things, and if jobs were to be done, they should be done properly, thoroughly and completed to the best of one’s ability.
Toby too was a man of kindliness, always with time for people, and a cheerful greeting whoever they were. If he was in his garden it could take 20 minutes to pass No 1 Church Walk, even when he was ill. He was too, a man with strength in his heart; a strong heart that was to amaze all, including the staff at Thorpe Hall as his life ebbed away.
Toby was also a man of gentleness; one of nature’s gentle, gentlemen, soft-hearted even; who cared secretly and passionately for his children and delighted in his grandchildren. He would beat for the company, but not really shoot, and he loved the world of nature. Much as he enjoyed company and people, with a word for anyone, he also loved the world of nature and the countryside;- the birds of the air, the flowers of the fields from dandelions to fuschias, the grass of the meadows, the tall trees in the greenwood; taking time for reflection by himself, for that is where he did his thinking as he went to Burmah Wood for his morning walk.
He was a man who was up betimes, come cold winter wind, or pleasant summer sun, who worked hard all his life; donning the blue boiler suit even in the last few weeks to do jobs, in the yard, in his garden; – the Tuesday before he went into Thorpe Hall he was in his greenhouse doing his cuttings, carrying on as normal. And towards the end appearing for the farm sale to see, for the last time many friends and fellow-countrymen. For he knew it was really the end, – one night he turned and looked at me, and said “time to send for the vet, William,” but he still met the end with dignity and a strong heart, never giving up hope and faith.
For the last part of the battle, even if he seemed gone from us, he was not alone. He was in the company of our God, who in the person of Jesus, trod this earth before us and treads it with us now; who as one of us had felt the worlds keenest woe; who knows what it is like to be Toby, you and me. The God who knows and cares when even one of the sparrows of his created order falls to the ground. We cannot know this side of the great divide why God does not catch it, but the promise is he knows and cares; how much more then for us. So fear not for Toby. For Toby is fine; he is allright. His body is at peace, free of pain and discomfort. He is with the Good Shepherd who both knows and cares for his whole created order, who has numbered the very hairs of our head. Rightly be sad for Mary, and for Wendy, Andrew and Martin, in whom he lives on in this world, be sad for ourselves yet also treasure the memories and also give thanks to God for the life of this good man and all he gave; for he rests in peace. Amen.