Death in the Family

Harper Lee died this week, as the world knows. So too did Umberto Eco. Unnoticed by the media, the cognoscenti, and the society pages, but mourned by those who knew and loved him, my ex brother-in-law Neville passed away too – modestly, as he had lived, without fuss and palaver. As good and decent a man as you could hope to find, kind to a fault, without a mean bone in his body. You can’t do much better than that.

The last time I saw Neville would have been at my daughter Kathy’s wedding, half-a-dozen years ago. My divorce from his wife’s younger sister was in the final throes of completion, after a long and painful struggle, and I hadn’t seen any of her side of the family for several years. Yet all of them – Neville included – greeted me with nothing but kindness and compassion, a gift for which I will always be thankful.

Divorce may have taken us our different ways, but that doesn’t mean you stop loving the people you love.

Go in peace, Neville. My thoughts are with you and your family.

6 responses to “Death in the Family”

  1. I felt the same about my ex mother-in-aw, Rube Hudson. She was one of the most kind and compassionate people that I have had the pleasure to know and love. Despite my divorce from her son, Jim, we still remained very close. She even remarked that no matter what happened that I would always remains her daughter-in-law. I am still in touch with my ex father-in-law, Bern, who has been very good with Rube to Emily, the grandkids and I. Love certainly knows no bounds.


  2. Never a fan of Harper Lee, and less so now, having recently learned that the “To Kill a Mockingbird” that many cherish owes more to the wisdom of her editor than her actual, full portrayal of Atticus Finch. However, I was/am a fan of Eco.

    And thank you for the family loss information. Theresa will pass on our condolences to the appropriate parties.


      • It was a long time ago…but three observations, perhaps. One concerns language, which most of my students found difficult to follow at the scale of a novel, even a short one. The second, as you’d imagine, was the recognition of shared injustice. But the third – maybe this is more about how I remember it – was the kind of double-take you get when teaching black students a book in which racial injustice is seen, not through black eyes, or the eyes of the oppressed, but the eyes of a privileged white child.

        Liked by 1 person

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