Andra’s recent titles have had me singing along…
Today we bury Billy. Eighty six years of a full, active, loved life. Nearly sixty of those years have been spent with Eileen. Now deceptively frail, she spent all those years by his side, and took up residence in an uncomfortable hospital chair for his last few days. She didn’t leave him, knowing that he was about to leave her. Strength, love and togetherness- that elusive something special that we hear about, that we all hope for: they had it in spades.
See that cherubic curly haired chap? That’s Billy in about 1929- can’t you tell he’s full of mischief? While his sisters are scared of the photographers toys, and his parents and elder brother are posing, Billy is enjoying the moment.
That’s the only picture of Billy with a full head of hair I’ve ever seen. By the time the family expanded and a picture of all the boys was taken, Billy (on the left) was his adult self.
Many years later, a crowd of happy brothers and sisters at a wedding (Herself on the right, Billy second from right at the back).
Billy was with both of his parents when they died. He lost a daughter, and six siblings. He raised seven children and had the love of many grandchildren. When he died, he was with Eileen, his children, some grandchildren and some of his brothers and sisters.
When we were little, we’d look forward to seeing Billy, the way people look forward to roller coasters or the dodgems. He’d come into the family home and chase all the nephews and nieces for kisses or tickles, for the sheer fun of us all squealing in delight. Last week at the hospital, we were queuing up to kiss him, and tease him that we were taking advantage now, getting our revenge in, 40 years later.
He’d find the fun anywhere and he knew everyone. Like so many of his siblings, he enjoyed a good arguement. Black was white, if he so decreed. When he and Nora (anxious with a bear in the top picture, on the left in the bottom one) got together to argue opposing positions, nobody else got a word in, and they had a great time.
Billy was the boss. Our patriarch. Gentle and determined. Modelling all that is good in people.