Thursday, 7 October 2010

Major George Wilkinson MBE

My dear father in law, George Wilkinson, has died at the age of 94.  I've only known George during the last 12 or so years of his long life, but it was a privilege. I can't tell you about his military career, of which he was so proud, - he would regale any audience with reminiscences of his life in Germany during and after the war. I can't tell you about his early life, born as he was into a very modest Yorkshire mining family and destined to go down the pit, until the army opened up an entirely new life and unimagined opportunities for him. I can't even tell you much about his later career as a gun dog trainer, and country sports enthusiast. Suffice to say that his son, my husband, has to this day a somewhat ambivalent attitude to roast pheasant, born he says of the many ever-so-slightly-past-it's-best, game dinners he endured as a child in the post war years.  And we will draw a veil over the apocryphal Roast Swan I Thought It Was A Goose incident.

What I can tell you is that George was one of the Old School. He was a gentleman and a charmer to the end.  He was engaging and funny to talk to whether you were young or old, humble or grand. Because there was no silver spoon for any baby born into George's family back in 1915, he appreciated and enjoyed the good things that had come to him in life, perhaps like only those who have known a degree of deprivation can do. A potter in his pristine garden, followed by a good dinner with a glass of red wine, (or two), and a dog at his feet, and life was good. And although I only knew him in his later years, I can truly say I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.

Ninety four year olds are not often known for their witty riposts, but George would often surprise you, even in the last months of his life when you thought he wasn't really listening, or able to take things in, he would suddenly add some little aside, make some little joke. Just a week before he died, he and Marjorie celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, there was a write up in the local paper, since 70 years together is pretty special, and amid the cards, photos and congratulations George was heard to ask "Do I get a long service medal yet?"

We will miss him.

14 comments:

  1. Dear Kathy, Obviously a remarkable man who lived a long and fruitful life. It is no doubt that there will be an enormous hole left in your family but a life well lived is cause for celebration. You all have such wonderful memories to comfort you at this very sad time.

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  2. I am sorry for your loss of what sounds like a wonderfully interesting man. There are not so many like him these days. The picture of him in his uniform is very dashing!

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  3. My condolences to your husband and the whole family. I'm not good with words of comfort, and I'm sorry, I know he will be missed.

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  4. So very sorry for your loss. He sounds like a marvelous person.

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  5. He sounds like a wonderful person. I'm sorry that you have lost him, but glad that you had him with you for so long.

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  6. Dear Kathy,
    What a marvelous person your George must have been, hold strong his memory and live life as he did.
    Doc

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  7. So sorry, he sounds like an amazing man. Condolences to the family. Diane

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  8. My thoughs are with you at this sad time. I found a poem:

    Not how did he die, but how did he live?
    Not what did he gain, but what did he give?
    These are the units to measure the worth
    of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

    Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
    But had he befriended those really in need?
    Was he ever ready, with word of good cheer,
    to bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

    Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
    but how many were sorry when he passed away

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  9. Thoughts and best wishes to you all. He sounds like a really interesting and funny man - it's good you have such happy memories x

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  10. very touching mum and what a photo xx

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  11. aahh he sounded lovely - sorry he has left you in body, I am sure his spirit with keep with you all forever.

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  12. I have just caught up with your blog

    my best wishes and thoughts are with you

    johnx

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  13. Thank you for all your thoughts and poems, I am deeply touched by all your kind words.
    Kathy

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