This is Cyril.
The youngest brother of Tim James, my mother's father. Officially, he was my maternal great uncle, but told me 'great uncle' made him feel old, so he went by Uncle Cyril.
He turned 96 last autumn, and it will be his funeral on Valentine's day. He wasn't sick, he was just old. He wasn't alone, and I'm told it was 'peaceful'. He wasn't afraid, he didn't fight, he just . . . died.
Very much an 'old school' gentleman, complete with traditional, church based moral code, Cyril copied admirably when we broke to him the news of my pregnancy (before we'd set a date for the wedding). Smiler arrived, and the following year Cyril travelled to Bristol from London with his wife, Pam, to attend the wedding. It was Cyril who signed as a witness. We didn't see each other often, just once a year, but exchanged letters and phone calls regularly.
He was very preoccupied with his own mortality, constantly making plans for what would happen after his death, often ending phone calls with 'of course, I shall die soon, so this will be the last time we speak', and I do find it weirdly comforting to know that if his belief system works out, he's sitting in an arm chair, surrounded by broadsheet newspapers, a generously poured glass of sherry in his hand, gleefully telling anyone and everyone who passes within earshot 'I was right! Look at that! I said I'd die soon!'
Thank you, Uncle Cyril.
I hope I made you proud.
I'll miss you.
I promise, they will always remember you - you brought them ice~cream.