A fond memory and story of my beloved sister May.
While Nazi troops goose-stepped in Paris, at home I was becoming ever more mobile and vocal. I adopted a habit of going around the supper table with an empty teacup asking everyone for a share of their tea. From each I received a small amount poured in my cup, and once satisfied I’d received enough, I sat down in a corner to drink it.
Lily, meanwhile, was coping well with running the home, although not often popular with other members of the family. Her authoritative nature was not well received by her younger brothers and sisters. Fulfilling her roll as mother and yet remaining a sister was a very difficult task. May was at an age when she was expected to contribute considerable help with housework. However, just as stubborn as Lily, they often ended up doing more arguing than cleaning.
I fondly remember a story May told me some years later. She’d arranged a date with a soldier on a night when it was her turn to look after me. Lily refused to let her go out unless she took me along. Meeting the young soldier with a baby in her arms wasn’t May’s idea of dating. Determined not to give in, she finally stomped angrily out of the house, taking me with her. Showing up with a baby was a poor start to the potential romance! I can imagine the soldier’s reaction upon seeing me. He may well have believed I was May’s baby, and the scandal associated with being an unwed mother in those days would have been quite outrageous. His opinion of my sister’s moral standards would have been probably low, if not in the gutter. Even if he accepted that I was her brother, the date would still have been a total disaster. How could they hope to snog and kiss with me in the middle? Maybe I helped with the kissing!
May smiled as she retold the story of that disastrous date saying, “I used to hate you, Mr. Eric.” She was joking of course, but I’m not so sure. Back in 1941 she may well have hated me. I would have hated me under similar circumstances. Calling me “Mr. Eric” was a common practice in our family. My other two brothers were also referred to as “Mr.” – not so much a mark of respect, but more as a hint of friendly sarcasm from our sisters.