My dear Uncle Bill died on Monday afternoon in Bendigo, Australia. He was 97 years of age.
I received the news from my mum during a break in a photography class I was running that night. Being a bloke I was able to put it aside and go back to work. But in the early hours of the following morning, during the hour of the wolf, the memories started coming in thick and fast.
He was a lovely man, a straight shooter and as solid as a rock. A family man and a pillar of the community Uncle Bill gave a significant part of his life to serving the poor. Sadly missed, but remembered with joy and admiration.
Of my mother's 4 siblings, all boys, he was the last of her remaining brothers.
I never knew Little Tommy, my mother's brother killed by a car when he as a toddler. But my memories of my uncle Bill go back to my childhood years when he and his wife, Lorna, would visit us in my hometown, Hamilton. I doubt that there were more than a handful of visits from any of mum's brothers over the years. But I remember them all and the joy those visits brought my family.
When I was 17 I spent some time convalescing from a severe and prolonged bout of Glandular Fever at Bill and Lorna's home in Bendigo. I still remember the address, though I've only been there once since. I was 1/3 of my current age then.
At Bills 90th birthday my mum told a story about when, as a very young child, she told her big brother Bill that she was cold. He reached out, took her hand and put it in his pocket. She remembers that story still, more than 80 years after the event.
I'm only sorry that I hadn't made the effort to visit Bill and Lorna over recent years. Ironically I'd spoken with my youngest sister recently about organizing a day trip where a few of us kids would be able to travel up together and spend some time with the two of them. They say it's the thought that counts, but action counts for much more and I wish I'd got it together.
Much loved and dearly missed, Bill Gearon may you rest in peace.
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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru