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A Shout From The Attic: Childhood Sweethearts

Ronnie Bray is the "forgotten son'' when he attends his father's funeral.

To read earlier episodes of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

The George Frederick Bray I saw at Hartley Grange old folks’ home was a much changed man, and the better for it. Somehow, he got in touch with a lady named Phyllis who had been his sweetheart as a lad before he met Mother. She was a widow with a son, David, and a house in Swallow Lane, Golcar, and they got married soon after their reunion. I learned of the marriage some months after it had taken place. I went to see him at Golcar a couple of times. Phyllis kept a good house and looked after him.

He looked as if he had a new lease of life. The last time I saw him he had returned from a week’s holiday at the coast. The week had been good and the weather had been kind but when they got back, he developed a cold, which laid him low. I saw him on the Wednesday when he was more himself. He had been hallucinating and seeing intruders and had wanted to chase them around with a poker. A couple of days later he rallied, became better, and brighter, but then he died.

He was laid out at Taylor’s Funeral home Cowersley. I saw him in his coffin. He had a sort of overlaid garment covering his breast that was intended to depict his military service. It looked theatrical and cheap. He was cremated at Fixby Crematorium after an address by a vicar who did not know him. No vicars knew him.

The vicar said that he left behind a wife and a stepson, and that he had another family, Norina, and Janet by a previous marriage. I did not feel left out: the minister did his best with poor material, and you cannot tell what you do not know. However, that was not the end of my father; we had not quite done with each other when we said goodbye at the fire.

Phyllis did not last much longer after Dad died, but when Norina called at the house, David was gruff and made it plain that Father’s family was not welcome. The consensus was that he was afraid one of them would want to get their hands on the house. Nothing could be further from the truth, but greed mixed with paranoia makes a vicious master.

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