again. My father did not see active service. His eyesight was not good enough. He has always felt both grateful and guilty about that. Grateful that he did not have to go because he detests violence of any sort and guilty that other people he knew did go to war.
He would, like so many of the men who did go, have been very young.
My father has a younger brother. There were only ever the two boys although my grandparents would have liked to have many more children. My grandmother lost seven children. She never spoke about them but, as I have grown older, I wonder how she felt about this.
It did not, as it might have, get in the way of a loving married relationship. My grandfather adored her. That was obvious. He was immensely proud of her.
My father's younger brother is a difficult, miserable old man. There is no other way to describe him. He was not always like this but mild strokes in the frontal lobe area of his brain have changed him. He divorced about thirty years ago and has never remarried. He had two boys and one died. It is something he has never come to terms with.
He is currently in hospital yet again. He has another "viral" infection according to his remaining son. My cousin had to 'phone us from London as my uncle refuses to have any contact with us.
His brother, my father, feels deeply concerned by this but any attempt to make contact results in violent and abusive language. We now leave him be because contact clearly distresses him but my father, indeed I, would still do anything he asked. He is family. He is still here with us, unlike all the young men who never returned and for whom their families can do nothing but remember.
I wonder what my grandparents would make of the rift between the brothers and I think it would distress them too.