This week, Sonel’s B&W Photo Challenge is ‘Family’. I recently borrowed my mom’s old photo albums, as I had suddenly realised how little I knew of the generations of my family who had gone before. As I turned the pages, I was filled with sadness, thinking of the many family members I should have known and loved, but never got to meet, and others with whom I had just a brief encounter. My Great Aunt Mary was my grandma’s sister. What a beautiful woman she was, both inside and out, and so loved by my sister and I. We used to have such fun with together, and were absolutely devastated when she died of cancer in the prime of her life, and our adventures with her came to an abrupt halt.
When I was a child, we often visited my Great Aunt Sue and Uncle Harold. I remember that my eyes were always drawn to the photo which stood on their piano, of a handsome young man in army uniform. Alfie their only child, was one of the many young casualties of the second world war. The piano had been his, and was never opened after his death. Here he is in happier times, with his mom and dad.
My mom has often spoken with pride of her older brother Fred. He was her hero, a great swimmer and competition diver, diving from the top of cranes in Hong Kong Harbour. The two of them were very close.
He went down on an unmarked Japanese POW ship which was torpedoed by the allies in 1943. A Military Medal is little compensation for the loss of a beloved son and brother. His name is at the bottom of the first column on this segment of the Roll of Honour.
I know I would have loved to have had him as my uncle. Maybe he would have taught me to play the trumpet, as well as how to swim, which is something I’ve never really mastered.
This birthday card was the last correspondence mom received from him. I kept the flower in colour. I’m sure Sonel won’t mind, as it’s so pretty. 🙂
Mom’s Uncle Bob is another man I would have loved to have met. He would have been my great uncle, if only he hadn’t also been killed in the war.
My dad’s dreams of studying to be an engineer were shattered by the outbreak of war, and he was in his late teens when left his home and family in the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia, to join the Royal Dutch Navy on the submarines. At the end of the war, he fell in love with my mom in England and they married. Because he hardly spoke any English, he was forced to settle for a very mediocre job as an electrician in a coal mine. Times were very hard, and any job was better than nothing, especially with a young family to support.
My dad survived the war, physically unscathed, but he never saw his mom and dad again, and my sister and I didn’t get to meet our grandparents. My grandfather was killed by the Japanese, and my grandmother died when we were very young.
As I pored over these faded B&W photographs, my heart was filled with sadness, thinking of how war can change the course of people’s lives for ever, and usually not for the better. These words spoken by General Robert E. Lee, are so true: “What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.”
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