Reminiscing about Sweet William
This is my memory of my brother-in-law. I first met him when he was just a small boy, cheeky, energetic and normal. William was his name, “Sweet William“ I used to call him, although I was only sixteen myself. His family comprising two older siblings and two younger. William in the middle. Their father was a stern man who ruled the household with an iron fist. That fist being the only one he possessed owing to the mine accident which had robbed him of his right arm.
William and his brothers often felt the might of that one remaining arm and they each kept a low profile.
At nineteen William was so good looking that it was often said that he resembled a young Frank Sinatra. He was just twenty when he met and fell in love with a girl who lived across the road. They were an unlikely couple to some extent as she was fiery, quick-witted and educated.
William had never read a book in his life. He was a little slow on the uptake and, unlike his new wife, would avoid confrontation at all costs.
When offered advice he’d listen, nod his head and then do the exact opposite as he really didn’t wish to offend by openly disagreeing.
William’s father assumed he’d join the family business, as his older brother, my husband, had done, but young William had other ideas. He planned to get as far away from his father as possible and had no intentions of spending his life working alongside him.
He was afraid though of facing his father with his decision, but his young wife stood up to her father-in-law and once refused him entry into their shabby broken down home.
On reflection it would have been better financially for Will to work for his Dad as he never was able to hold down a real job.
At first he tried selling insurance door to door, but his cheap suit and obvious ineptitude didn’t instil confidence and sales were few.
He ambitiously tried to renovate his simple house by removing a wall between two rooms not considering it may have been weight bearing! He once knocked a hole in the kitchen wall for a serving hatch then he wallpapered over it when it became too draughty, without first filling in the hole. So proud was he of his efforts though, that one hated to disappoint him by pointing out his mistakes and seeing that beautiful smile slide off his face.
His life continued in the same chaotic vein, scraping a living with mad schemes whilst his long-suffering wife brought up their two small children.
Eventually things were going so badly they emigrated to Australia to join some of their family, even though he’d done his best to manage his life without their help.
Moving to a new country didn’t help their fortunes, William’s biggest problem was that he missed England, and all it stood for. He missed the pubs, football and the bad weather.
Eventually the pull of the homeland was too strong and back to Derbyshire they returned, but tragedy was to befall this small family some years later when their only daughter died in an accident in her early twenties.
William was inconsolable, his drinking habits got out of control and his long-suffering wife could stand life with him no longer. She left him and returned to Australia, leaving a lost soul to drink and smoke himself to death.
No longer was he the Frank Sinatra look alike, at fifty years of age with his flat cap permanently perched upon his now balding head, a cigarette in his nicotine-stained fingers and rotten discoloured teeth. He was now an old man.
The stresses of debt and the death of his beloved daughter made him a shadow of a man. Food became unnecessary, his calories derived from the eight pints of beer he consumed every day. He still had a ready smile which fleetingly disguised the deep lines of sadness and stress that life had dealt out. He caused no problems to anyone even when he was drunk, he would simply stagger back along the well-worn path to home.
That was when someone noted that they hadn’t seen him for over a week.
The police broke in to the house to find sweet William dead on the old shabby sofa. Alone.🤓