Goodbye Uncle Roy

Things have been relatively quiet around here, after my pretty hectic schedule of posts during March. The main reason for this, was the passing of my Uncle Roy on the 31st of March. I’ve been writing this post for a while, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it worked out and posted. This meant that I couldn’t post anything else, as I felt I had to get this post completed and put to bed. Finally tonight, I sat down and this post is the result.

My Uncle Roy, from my Dad’s side, emigrated back in the late 50s early 60s. He was posted in and around Australia and liked it so much he decided to stay. My Aunt Mickey, Roy’s sister, also emigrated to Australia, but that’s another story. Maybe that’s where I get it from, having been in Canada myself now, for over 10 years.

Now the dates and things are a little hazy, as I was only a small kid, but as I remember it my Uncle Roy, his wife Sandy and children, Fraser and Tiffany came to England sometime in the late seventies. I think they only intended on staying for a year or two, but stayed a little longer. During this time, I got to know them all, as we frequently went to visit them. They lived not far from the Elephant and Castle, a place that always sounds more like a pub than a place. My brother Alan and Fraser, as I remember it became as thick as thieves. They also worked for my Dad on a few occasions, on one occasion, shovelling horse manure. I heard my brother grumbling about that for an eternity after.

I always remembered Roy as a very large figure, with not much hair, as with many of the Meeks men, but through sheer luck, not me. Not yet anyway. He always wore a hat, very similar to his brother Davey, which maybe, as some people think, had something to do with it. In all those years that he was in England, I don’t ever think I heard him raise his voice. I’m sure Fraser and Tiffany would tell a different story, but to me he always had an undeniable confidence and exhuberence.

When establishing yourself in another country, you have to embrace it wholeheartedly. I don’t think you could have embraced it any more than Roy. I never thought of him as English, or indeed an ex-pat, to me he was always an Australian. Even in their stay in the UK, he was always Australian to me, rather than English.

I can remember him taking us, my Mum, Dad and me up into the Hinterland, to some kind of wild reserve, when we were in Australia, for his Daughter Tiffany’s wedding, in 1994 I think it was. I can still see him as holding this huge lizard thing by the tale, like some Crocodile Dundee character. I’ll have to see if I can dig out the picture for that. I’ve got it in my collection of photos in the basement somewhere.

Over the years it’s hard to stay in touch, especially with me emigrating to Canada, but it in the last year or so, Roy and Sandy discovered Skype, which meant that we spoke more often. They also sent me a letter with photos, which we received just a few weeks before Roy passed away. He looked so happy, as he had his kids and grand-kids around him. As always in hind site, I wish I would have replied sooner, but conventional letter writing is not my forté. In fact I hate hand writing with a passion, getting my wife Sherri to fill in conventional forms.

As is now all too common in this digital age, I found out on the Thursday morning that Roy had had an aneurysm. My cousin Tiffany posted on Facebook that she was jumping on a plane to be with him. I called her on her cell, just as she touched down on the Gold Coast and said to pass on our love. Unfortunately, little did we know that he’d already passed away.

It’s funny how emotions can take over. Without wishing to sound a bit uncaring, I don’t think you could say I was that close to my Uncle Roy, but I did love him dearly. I was kind of unprepared for how devastated I was. When Tiffany posted that he’d passed away, I know that there’s never anything you can say to help ease the pain, but I wanted to reach out, just to say I was there. Unfortunately it’s hard to help, when you are a blubbering mess. I was a similar mess when I finally got hold of my Dad, who was in Spain. I think the think it forces you to realise, is that you are getting older and I think that’s kind of scary. In my head I’m still a fairly young 21 or so. However now, I’m a Dad of 5 kids and it forces you to ponder on your own mortality.

I realise this is kind of a sprawling post, but it’s one that’s been brewing for so long and kind of cathartic to do.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose a sibling, or parent, but my thoughts are with my Aunt Sandy, cousin’s Fraser and Tiffany, and their extended family. Over a month has passed and I know that the old cliché that time heals doesn’t help now, but just know that our thoughts and love are with you.