A bit of a sad one …

Last Friday night I got a Facebook message from one of my cousins, out of the blue, telling me one of my uncles was very ill, by Sunday morning he was dead. He was in his 80s and had lived a long and fruitful life. I believe he was refusing treatment and I think I was supposed to have received an email about it the week before but due to the joyous vaguaries of the internet it never arrived. Due to the joyous vaguaries of my mother’s memory loss, I never heard from her either – she would be the usual source. She thinks she wasn’t told but she has dementia too. I suspect she simply forgot.

My uncle was a lovely chap, the oldest on my Dad’s side, and a great character. He used to phone me up every couple of months for a little chat which would last exactly eight minutes. I was always touched by this, after all, he didn’t have to and as our most distant (geographically) uncle, we didn’t see him as much as our other uncles so I didn’t know him as well. He was also kind enough gave me a stunning print of Ely Cathedral – because we used to live in Ely – which now hangs, resplendent, in our hall.

He and my aunt and cousins lived near Colchester for 33 years. Ironically, just up the road from where I live now. He was vicar of a parish just outside Colchester. Needless to say, we lived in Sussex at that point. We used to go and spend a night in the Marks Tey Motel on our way to holiday on the North Norfolk coast and pop in to see him. We would spend a day running wild with our cousins and the dog, Seager, and then go on to holiday. Later, after my aunt died, he moved to near Glastonbury, eventually living with one of my cousins. A few years ago he moved again, to Guildford, which was great because it was much nearer to Mum and Dad so they were able to see him far more often. One of my other cousins, who lived near him, would bring him over for tea and a chat with Dad several times a year.

The highlight was always a trip over during Wimbledon. They would have lunch together smoked salmon sandwiches, salad, crisps and strawberries and cream which they would eat off their laps, while sitting in front of the telly while watching the tennis.

Usually, after lunch, Mum and my cousin would take a wander round the garden while Dad and his brother had a good old chat. Last year, I managed to get to the Wimbledon get together, too, so it was great to see him. The home had managed to put his hearing aids through the wash in his trouser pockets so the poor man was ‘without ears’ but we had a very pleasant lunch, nonetheless. I did what is known in my family as ‘Mum’s Joyce Voice’ after the way she used to speak to a deaf friend. It’s a bit embarrassing and you can feel a bit condescending doing it to start with because it’s basically loud and clear (but keeping the treble up).

However, it seemed to work and apart from the fact that my Dad behaved abominably, mainly because he is too far gone to understand that you need to speak a little louder and more clearly to deaf folks and then got annoyed with my uncle asking him to repeat himself. Even so, it all went off pretty well. Luckily this is Dad’s older brother, so maybe he had enough memories of little brothers behaving badly to remain unfazed and unperturbed by a modern day repeat! He was sweet with Dad, anyway.

Only a couple of weeks ago, Mum and I were discussing arranging another visit and talking about how much we were looking forward to it and also, naturally, our faint hopes that Dad would behave himself this time. Wimbledon will not be the same this year, indeed, I doubt there will ever be another Wimbledon without me thinking fondly of my uncle. I think his funeral is going to be sometime during the week after next so I will go to represent my parents. There’ll be no-one to look after McMini not enough notice for McOther who is too busy so I’ll have to take him out of school and bring him with me but it should be OK. If it looks like it’ll be a long service, we’ll bring Beanos.

I don’t normally post pictures of my family but here is one of my uncle – on the right of the picture in the smart light brown suit, having a laugh with Dad (bottom left) in better days and Mum (fuzzy head in the RH corner) at Mum and Dad’s sapphire? 40 anyway, wedding anniversary party. The one below that is my uncle on his 82nd birthday, I think, back in 2011 anyway. Lovely shot sent by my cousin Matthew just afterwards.




Filed under General Wittering

9 responses to “A bit of a sad one …

  1. I don’t think your uncle would have wanted any other eulogy

  2. My condolences. It is very hard to lose the coherent ones, especially one who made the effort to see you and your parents. So glad your memories are such lovely ones.

  3. I am sad to hear about your Uncle, he sounds like a lovely person, and what wonderful memories you have.

  4. Lovely memories, and a lovely man. I think 40 is ruby (my parents had that). Have a strawberry tea watching wWimbledon and raise a glass of fizz to him each year. He’ll like that.

  5. Diana

    What a wonderful tribute to your uncle. I am so sorry you didn’t get the news early enough to visit — but perhaps just as well if you would have had difficulty getting to him. Instead, we get this lovely glimpse into your relationship with him (and your parents’). The mention of the 8 min phone call made me laugh — and wonder if there are charges involved in his calls, or if he just didn’t like being on the phone much. In any case, I am glad you are taking McMini to the service, whenever it happens. And I anticipate more stories following the gathering. May you find much joy in the event, even as there may well be tears.

  6. Condolences upon the loss of your uncle. I hope that the good memories of him help you to grieve with a small part of the joy he gave carried alongside you.

  7. I am sorry you uncle has died so suddenly. Your eulogy is wonderful – he must have been a fantastic uncle.
    Your mention of ‘Mum’s Joyce Voice’ made me giggle. My late mother-in-law (also called Joyce) was quite deaf towards the end of her life and had hearing aids but wouldn’t stop fiddling with them. They were always going faulty. She poked at them with sharp objects either because of the fault or causing it, we were never sure. ‘Stop mumbling!’ she bellowed. My husband had great difficulty talking to her over the phone until I suggested he pitch his voice a little higher, which worked. My husband talking in a falsetto voice brought out his Manchester accent and had me sniggering uncontrollably. We called it his Alan Ball voice. My brother-in-law wouldn’t try it and just shouted at her.

    • Oh that’s hilarious. What a hoot! My dad is also deaf but had long since refused to wear his hearing aids saying he can hear perfectly well! He doesn’t hear that well of course so sometimes I get shouted at for mumbling too.

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