My mother’s first cousin Bill Gee, son of Ronnie’s brother Bruce, came to visit from Toronto. Bill and Joan took us out for a great lunch and then we returned to Park Street to swap stories and photographs.
It’s funny – I have to remember that just because I don’t know something – some bit of family history – doesn’t mean others share my ignorance. Bill and I looked at several pictures of my mother’s brother, Bill Gee (“the other Bill Gee”). There are several photos of Mona’s brother Bill in which it his African ancestry seems pretty apparent, and there are several pictures of him with his grandmother Susan. Was he a favorite of hers? I have not seen any pictures of her with any of her other grandchildren. Anyway, I mentioned that I “thought” my mother’s brother Bill died in a VA hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. Oh yes, not only could my cousin Bill confirm that, but he added that he actually visited Bill Gee at that hospital.
“He is an interesting story. I saw him a few times in Romeo and a couple times after he came back from the war. On the first occasion, he knew he was going to die and was making the rounds of relatives to say goodbye. Can you imagine? In any case, he came waltzing into the house (only my mother and I were there at the time) with this breezy, happy attitude as though he didn’t have a care in the world. It was quite amazing. Shortly after, when I was about 12, I went with my parents to visit him at the veteran’s hospital in Battle Creek. He was laying in bed and still cracking funnies doing his best to make everyone laugh. I later heard from Jack that his mother never forgave Ronnie for not getting Bill deferred when he could have done so.”