Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Last week my lovely brother in law, Pete, died. It was utterly unexpected so we are all reeling with shock, and he will be sorely missed by everyone in particular by his son, his sister and the friend he spent a lot of time with.
My first memory of Pete was when I came down for a weekend to stay with Pip on his working boat (where he lived). We sailed over to Helford as it was a lovely evening, picked up a mooring and rowed ashore where, unbeknown to me, Pip had agreed to meet Pete and his girlfriend, Pat, for a meal at the Ferryboat pub.
I stomped up the beach, head down, wearing Pip’s sailing hat and old jacket on top of my t shirt and shorts as it was late and I was a bit cold. I then came to a pair of large feet, and followed them, looking up to see a tall man with a twinkle in his pale blue eyes, and the most gentle expression. There was also a twitch of amusement in his smile. “You must be Flowerpot,” he said. “I’m Peter.”
I’ve known Pete for 18 years and would be hard pushed to find a kinder, more considerate, gentle man. Life has not been as kind to him as he deserves, and he suffered from various ill health most of his life, but he rarely complained. What I do remember is the closeness of the two brothers. They had worked together for most of their lives, and often helped each other out when needed: when Pete’s marriages broke up, and when Pip got into trouble (which was frequently).
There is much I don’t know about the brothers, but I do know that while being chalk and cheese,they complimented each other perfectly: made a perfect whole. While Pete was steady and cautious, Pip was the ideas man, full of verve and enthusiasm. One balanced the other out.
Almost exactly four years ago, when we found out Pip only had days to live, Pete said, “We are like a marriage,” which summed their relationship up perhaps best. They were like identical twins, as their sister said, and neither functioned properly without the other.
When Pip died, Pete was always there for me, for which I am profoundly grateful. He thanked me for bringing such happiness to his brother's life, and for keeping him alive longer than he would have been otherwise. He was endlessly patient, and I hope I gave him some comfort as I was the nearest he could get to his little brother.
I knew how much Pip relied on Pete, but I hadn’t realised just how much Pete needed his other half. I don’t believe in an after life, but in a curious way I feel that the two brothers are somehow reunited. I feel honoured to have known such a wonderful pair, and even more privileged to love them both.