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I haven’t got any pictures from the late forties of the four of us together in Poulton, the Lancashire village that was our home. That’s Mum, Dad, sister Lynda and me. With the war taking Dad away for the duration, Lynda was nearly five years older than me. I guess I knew when visiting the grave of the Grandfather I never knew, before I’d started at school but able to read and already keen on sums, that the words on his headstone, ‘The Day thou gavest Lord is ended,’ meant it was likely I’d be the last of the four to die. In not quite the predictable order, so it has proved.
The forties were even before the Brownie 127. A box camera was the technology. A fifth party had to take a family photo, and the first example of that I’ve found is well into the fifties and after we’d moved to Southport. We were a family then, the four of us, plus dog Rex and cat Chloe. My memory doesn’t fail me. It was a good home.
That family had broken up by 1961. Lynda had married and unusually for the time and place Dad moved out for someone else. The only pictures with all four of us since are at family weddings with Mum trying to stand as far away from Dad as the lens would allow. Both Rex and Chloe lived into old age but of course they’ve both been gone many decades. Dad died in 1998, Lynda in 2012 and Mum went two weeks ago, two days after my seventieth.
I didn’t really live at anywhere I could call home once I left University. Nothing unusual there, most of us didn’t. In fact, more come back afterwards to live at home now than then, with property prices high and marriage unfashionable. My present family is still half with us, as family dog Timmy reaches old age. I hope the three kids think that my wife Janet and I have given them a good home. And that they’ll still be around and think that in fifty years time.
Those of you who’ve read ‘Where’s Sailor Jack?’ will know how I try to see eternity through science or those quirks of inexplicable meaning sometimes thrown up by events. Maybe some events are there to make us wonder, even to see wonder. But if anything makes me hope for eternity it’s just this: We were a family, we are a family. Maybe there won’t be many mansions for us in heaven, but there could be a terrace of houses.