Sunday, 23 January 2011

Joking aside...

Abba sang "What lies waiting down the line at the end of 89?" Well, for my family, it was utter heartbreak. We lost someone so precious, so beautiful, with a heart the size of an ocean and just as full of life. My 36-year-old brother Rob was killed in a near-head-on collision with a 38-ton lorry. He left behind my darling sister-in-law Margaret who truly is a sister, and two of the nicest people it's my privilege to know, Angela and Harry, then 7 and 4. And of course he left behind the rest of us, his parents, grandmother, sisters, brothers, nephews and assorted in-laws.

What can I say about him? When he laughed, as he did so much, the street laughed; he was such a good dad; he kept in touch with me and a door open when I eventually left home "under a cloud" which is rather a nonsensical way of describing the events back then; he loved and he cared. He stepped in to give me away at my wedding when it looked like my dad wasn't going to be there; and I walked up the aisle with both of them holding me up.

He could also produce the loudest and longest farts of anybody I've ever met, before or since. And you should have seen him dressed in one of mum's skirts and tops with her lipstick on and some strategically-placed balloons. I don't remember what he did to disguise his hair...

He was a proper big brother too. Pulled my hair and teased me, especially as I was 10 years his junior. One of those unreasonable regrets that was so way out of anyone's control, especially mine, was that just when I was grown up enough to fully appreciate him, he was gone. Hah I still remember - torture of tortures - when he would do his round intricate jigsaw of trains, and wouldn't let me even put one piece in. Such torture for a puzzle addict, even at 5 or 6!

He was a chess champion at work, in fact fell in love via letter with Mags as they played a long-distance chess game. She was in Malta, in fact in 1973 I was the first member of the family, apart from my grandmother, to have met her, another event etched in the glass of memory. No computers, and the cost of long-distance phone calls - ouch!

They got married in June 1976, and I was one of their bridesmaids. Only I chose that year to have a growth spurt, and between being measured for the dresses in March and the event my dress had to be virtually remade. Awkward moo to the last, eh.

I loved him very much, was appallingly bad at showing it, but I still do, and I ache with his loss. Today, 21 years on, I'll remember the phone call at work, the policeman and woman, the hugs and the silence of the shock. I'll weep as I am now. I'll look at photos. I'll hug my loved ones just that bit tighter.

And I'll laugh to his memory.

1 comment:

  1. Sad but Beautiful memories, Jen :)

    They made me weep for my own family losses, in that bitter-sweet way one does, after time has healed that first, immediate grief.

    Take Care, Hun :)

    x x x