So last week the phone goes and it's my Uncle. He isn't really my Uncle, he's Dad's cousin but he's all the family we have now on that side bar my Great Auntie May and she has Alzheimers and hasn't got the faintest idea who we are, and Jim has always been Uncle Jim to us.
Now it's not unusual for my Uncle to ring me. Since Dad's death (they were very close) he keeps in touch and we try and meet up when we can which is harder than is seems as he lives in Ayr and can't drive any longer due to having the hellish illness that is Parkinsons.
Anyhow he's on the phone and telling me that he's moved house. I'm shocked. Him and Auntie Margaret had a great house and they've been in it for about 20 years. Then he tells me he's bought a wee one bedroom flat in the town centre. I'm puzzled. They had a gorgeous old victorian house before with oodles of space.
Then comes the bombshell. HE has bought a one bedroom flat in the town centre. My Auntie is living elsewhere. They have seperated and are getting divorced! I am no longer shocked. I am truly flabbergasted. My Uncle and Auntie were a great couple. They have been a couple all my life and more. In fact according to my Mum they have been married for about 40 years!
40 years? That's a huge milestone in this age of throwaway marriages. Now though it is no more.
Worse still it seems to be a bitter and acrimonious split as my Auntie has an injunction out on my Uncle and he was put in Jail for breaking the injunction and going home! In Jail? He's 62 years old, disabled and can barely walk properly!
I have no idea what the hell caused this or why and really I have no wish to know. I can guess it involved shouting, arguing, general disagreeing and an element of throwing things around the house which most likely came to a head after a period fo frustration on both sides. My Uncle is not the young, lively, popular man he was in his youth. He is no longer the Regimental Sergeant major, the brave and fit soldier my Auntie married and put up with for 26 years while he was in service. My Auntie is no longer the RSM's wife. She has had her own ill health and has had to deal with the change in this man and their lifestyle.
It's about 18 years since he left the army. The house was full of army bits and pieces. It was their life. There kids were born in Germany. They moved house every few months. My Auntie was a proper Army wife. Their house was regimentally tidy and my Uncle was a proud and popular soldier. Life was ordered and planned as it always is for a family with a member serving in the forces.
It was hard for them all when it ended. When my Uncle went back onto Civvy Street. Could it really be though that 18 years later the change, the illness, the fact they are not the couple they were in their hey day has finally taken it's toll?
I think maybe so.
And it's sad.
So it seems my sister and I have misplaced another member of our family. It's unlikely we'll see my Auntie again. It's almost like a bereavment in a way.
Still onwards and upwards. We'll head through to see the old Uncle and see how he's doing. It's what Dad would do and he's so like Dad there's a wee comfort to be found in chatting to him!