One family member I was close to, particularly as a troubled teenager (is there any other kind?) was my paternal grandmother, Elsie May Williams, née Bent, known to me as Nan.
Elsie was an interesting, intelligent woman. She had led a somewhat colourful life in interwar London. She often used to tell me of her exploits with my grandfather Percy, whom I never got to meet, as he died of cancer in the late 1950s.
Percy was a solicitor’s clerk, a short, dapper, dark-haired, barrel-chested man and well … a very naughty boy, to put the most favourable slant on it.
I’ve never been a particularly family-oriented person. Don’t get me wrong: I love my family and think of them affectionately. However, I was taught to be independent and self-reliant as a child, and well, I took the lesson to heart.
Dad later apologised to my newly-wed wife for that. The seed of independence was sown in fertile ground, Dad. Don’t give yourself too much credit.
So … it was a bit of a surprise to everyone, including myself, when I embarked on extensive family research on Ancestry several years ago. Probably Dad’s sudden death in 2012 prompted it. I realised that my family, particularly its senior members, wasn’t going to be around for ever, and that there was a lot that I wanted to know.