The only one missing from this family portrait is one brother - perhaps he was away at Uni or wielding the camera, though Pa was quite nifty at setting a timer and nipping round to get into the picture.
Pa didn't leave us any money - he had none to leave - but his legacy to me was a love of words. When I was at college I got a letter every week. Mum's were short and sweet and handwritten - you could sense her thinking "What else can I tell Lizzie now?" but Pa's were thumped out on his old upright typewriter and his personality lifted from the page to envelop me in thoughts of home. The letter was always single-spaced on one side of a sheet of foolscap - sometimes two, if I was lucky - while on the reverse were his old sermons. Pa never threw paper away if it could be re-used.
I even read those sermons because he knew how to string words together and they were never boring,, though the sheets he had recycled were seldom consecutive - and the force with which he had bashed the typewriter keys was evident in the way the full stops broke clear through to the other side. He used to do the same with the Gestetner sheets for the Parish Magazine.
The Rectory shelves were full of books and if I asked what a word meant we would look it up together in the "Enc Brit". Did you have a set of those Encyclopaedia Brittannica? Gold tooled red binding on a set of about 24 books, and we even had a special bookcase to go with them. They must have cost a fortune, no doubt on the "Never-never" but we got our money's worth out of them. I've even written them into a book of my own!, Once Id found a word and its meaning, Pa would explain how it was derived from the Latin or Greek or Hebrew. I did only a term on Latin but I can still use what Pa taught me to understand a new word.
And the reason for all this retrospection is simple - yesterday was his birthday. He was born in 1905 and he lived to be 90.
Happy Birthday PA. I love you.
PS. I still wander round a stationery shop like an addict after a fix, and I have paper that's decades old waiting to be used. He'd be proud of me.