I have finally got around to getting this photo of my grandfather and his identical twin brother framed. He's on my mother's side and we used to spend every summer with him and my grandma in their town in North Wales. We called them Nain (Welsh for grandmother) and Taid (Welsh for grandfather). My Taid, Brynmor, is on the left, my (Great) Uncle Meirion on the right.
When he was born, he went to live with his auntie, just up the road from his parents and his twin brother - to make life easier for everyone, I guess.
He died when I was in my very early teens, I think. I remember my mum getting the phone call - my dad was making pancakes in the kitchen, something he used to do on Fridays and I remember my mum calling for him and my dad saying 'shit, it's your father' - I was struck at how he had said 'your' in the sentence, as if he was speaking to my mum even though she wasn't in the room. My Taid had been ill - he had skin cancer but eventually died from pneumonia. I don't know how old he was, but I don't think he was very old.
I do remember things about him and he is quite clear in my memory. He was bald and he told me various stories as to how he lost his hair, but the one that seemed most believable to me at the time was that his hat had rubbed it off when he was in the war. The same thing had obviously happened to his brother - they were identically bald.
He had a story about how when they signed up for the army his brother had an infection, or something that meant he might not pass, so my grandfather stood in for him as they wanted to be together. I don't think they got away with it, but I forget the whole story now.
He used to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse in his garden and checking those tomatoes was our 'thing' to do together. When they were ripe, he would pick me one and I would eat it sprinkled with sugar - delicious!
When we would stay with my grandparents for the summer, we would put a bunk bed in their room, right next to their bed and my brother would sleep on the top and me on the bottom. I have no idea where my sister slept! I know as we got older we all relocated to the attic. It was a proper attic, not a converted room - just a step ladder leading up to it and no windows at all. It was full of stuff and junk and stored furniture, and oppressively hot in the summer months, but over the years the 3 of us slowly made it into our little room.
Those summers were carefree and fun. My Nain would record all the children's programmes and we would be so excited to watch Timmy Mallet, Why Don't You and whatever else was on at the time. At that time, TV in Dubai was limited and didn't even begin until 4pm. There was a sweet shop we would go to - I would dream about that sweet shop all year long! We would head down to poncai (ponkey) park with our friends to eat blackberries and play in the playground, which had the most enormous slide - I would love to see that slide now, just to see how big, or otherwise, it actually is.
My Taid would go to chapel every Sunday and to get in his good books I would occasionally join him - my brother and sister rarely did. But because my name was unusual and my sister's name was Welsh, the minister would always say 'and it's lovely to see Brynmor here with his daughter Cerys and his granddaughter Angharad' and I would feel that my efforts were wasted.
When he died my sister was still quite young and a bit hazy on who was who. She says now that she clearly remembers going to chapel the summer after Taid had died and seeing him sitting there - she couldn't understand what was going on and why no one else was shocked. But of course it was his twin brother, our Uncle Meirion.
While I wish that Taid had lived longer, even long enough to have met my husband and and maybe even my children, in some ways I'm glad that he knew me only as a child and not as the young adult who was a little too fond of late nights out and boys, that my Nain knew when she died some years later...