When I told him about my kidney cancer, this was the immediate response from my Middle Brother, Geoff. It pretty much sums up all that he is to me – generous, funny, warm, interested, consistent, wise and reliable.
And this is why I still call him my “Middle Brother”…
Looking through the early photos, Geoff was always sitting or standing in the middle between Eric (eldest brother) and myself. This is a lovely one – on one of our Sunday morning walks through the fields with our Dad and his Kodak box camera.
Geoff was my baby brother for six years (til Les was born) and in the first year of his life he was often poorly. I didn’t know anything about what was happening to him, but I missed him when he was in hospital time after time and I remember all the worry and concern in the house. I was told he was having trouble keeping his food down and the next thing I knew was having my baby brother home with a red scar on his stomach. Here he is with our Nan, who adored Geoff, in 1948 on holiday at Eccles Beach in Norfolk.
Geoff made the most of life – and still does. He treasures his family and he and Pat are Mum and Dad to Kevin, Justine and Alex. He also has an amazing memory and can fill in the details of any family incident or event from our childhood.
When we eat together, I always find myself watching him to see if he smells his food before he tastes it! When he was young I used to watch him sniff his Marmite sandwich before he took a bite and I still wonder if this dated back to his early feeding problems… Haven’t seen him do it recently though! We’ve had some happy times together in recent years – visiting their son Kev in Sheffield and taking in a walk around the city and a quiet time in the beautiful Sheffield Cathedral, followed by an evening meal.
When our son Dom was at home with us in 2011 with terminal cancer, Geoff phoned every week without fail to talk with us and with Dom. The love and support from his family is so precious to us – and Patsie is the sweetest sister that I never had as a child. We love them all very much.
Geoff still phones every week and now and again I remember to beat him to it. When the grandchildren want to speak to him, he says he’s Billywhiz! John tells me that name has a few dubious meanings but I’ll stick with Beano or Dandy…
We had a lovely time last summer when we rented a little cottage together in Northumberland for the Walkefest family gathering near Hexham. We were cosy, very much at home and made lovely memories. This was our shared view…
I’ve been thinking alot about how to thank you both, Geoff and Patsie, for this extraordinary love and support you give us through our grief and fears and for the smiles and laughter we can often share in our lives. Last week the actor John Hurt died and he has said ” My life is full because I know I am loved”. That about sums it up for us, eh?
I wonder if you remember that you gave me, many years ago, a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets? Well, this one, number 116, is for you…
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken,
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come,
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.