Don’t do it, Un­cle Dick!

Now we know why Dick strug­gled

Chat It's Fate - - Contents -

Wrig­gling my toes as I lay on the sun­lounger, I sighed hap­pily. Mum, Elis­a­beth, then 48, was doz­ing be­side me. Then, sud­denly, she sat bolt up­right.

‘Don’t do it, Dick, please,’ she begged.

Un­cle Dick lived in Bri­tain, while we were in Syd­ney. Agi­tated, Mum tried to call him.

In the 1960s, me, Mum, Dad, and my three sib­lings, lived with my grandad and un­cle in Kent. Later, we moved to Aus­tralia, but Mum kept in con­tact with her brother. The door­bell rang. Po­lice! Un­cle Dick had gassed him­self in the oven, they said. Mum was pow­er­less to help.

On in­her­it­ing his house, in Oc­to­ber 1972, we re­turned to Eng­land. Not be­fore Mum had the gas oven re­placed by an elec­tric one, though. Only, that first night, my brother David ran into mine and my sis­ter’s room. He’d been in Un­cle Dick’s room. ‘I heard shuf­fling noises,’ David blurted. ‘Then, the room be­came cold. I could smell gas. I think it’s Un­cle Dick.’ Chilling. Some years later, Dad in­vited me and the kids over. ‘Why aren’t you in your usual spot by the fire?’ I asked. ‘Last week, I was sat there when I heard Dick say, ‘‘You’re in my fa­ther’s chair.”’ Dad shud­dered. Years on, I be­came a nurse. That’s when things made sense. When we lived with Un­cle Dick, he was full of life one minute, shut­ting him­self away the next. I re­alised it was due to bipo­lar dis­or­der. In 2005, my daugh­ter was di­ag­nosed, too, so I told her about Un­cle Dick. ‘Let’s plant a rose bush by his grave for his birth­day,’ I sug­gested. Back home, we were met by the scent of roses. ‘It’s Un­cle Dick say­ing thank you,’ I said. Now he knows we un­der­stand why he strug­gled so much in life.

Juliet Derry, 65, from Herne Bay, Kent Mum, Dad, my brother and sis

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