Sunday, July 3, 2016

You angel you, you got me under your wing (Bob Dylan)

You angel, you (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 2, part 2)
Uncle Jack with his two nephews, his mum and kid sister

1967 was massive. 

It was the year of Sgt Pepper (music would never ever be the same); it was the year I turned 10 (my birthday in October was a special one); and it was the year the concept of death became real for me. 

From 1967 onwards - my life was never going to be the same.

Albert Henry Adsett (never called that, he was always 'Jack') was 16 when a baby sister arrived. She would prove to be of use in the years to come, as she supplied plenty of good eating. 

Dulc' would bake a sponge and see it devoured by her ravenous brothers in short order. She never appeared to mind. In fact it was a tale she'd often relate with obvious delight. She loved her brothers!

Jack was always and forever a bachelor. I have no idea if he ever had a girlfriend but somehow the question was completely unnecessary. Jack appeared complete within himself. 

During the time I knew him he only ever lived at 11 Kawau Rd., One Tree Hill, with Ma. To me he was clearly a white knight, a good guy, a protector. He was a big guy, a man's man - tough and strong, but quiet, at peace. He was seemingly invincible, a giant in our lives.

My beloved Uncle Jack.

He was a great playmate for a little boy. He always seemed satisfied with whatever he had or with whatever he was doing. Nobody's perfect, but he was as close as it comes.

We'd often visit him at his work at the Alexandra Park raceway. I'm not too sure what he did there but he enjoyed it, as he enjoyed his life. He'd often take us around the horse stalls - Cardigan Bay was a champion of the day and we saw him up close! 

Jack was a keen angler, with his brother Roy. About the only tangible legacy I have of him is an old calendar he owned, showing various fishing scenes from around New Zealand, including his favourite place - Rotorua.

The Adsett clan at my parents' wedding, Jack far left.

I would come to cherish the times we'd spend together, with Ma ever-present and all my memories of him are as a gentle giant who was kind, who loved me.

And then, on June 12 1967, he was gone. 

I awoke sharply, having heard the phone go in the darkness and sensing something was wrong. The light was on, there were voices.

By this time I had moved from sharing a bedroom with Ross to a back bedroom which backed onto my parents' room.

Suddenly my light was on and mum was explaining to me what had happened. I suppose it's around the age of eight or nine that children begin to be conscious of death and I had certainly already had conversations with my parents about this. But it was an abstract concept, so nothing would have prepared me for this devastating news. I cried and cried. Tears of confusion, tears of pain, tears of rage. Tears for my Uncle Jack and tears for myself - I wouldn't be able to play with him anymore.

Life is short and cruel and parting is so often, sweet sorrow.

Love and peace - Jack's nephew.

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