Some people leave an indelible mark on your childhood. If you're lucky, like me, they're all good ones. And last week, we bade farewell to one of the people to left his mark on MY childhood.
Uncle Don was no relation to us, and we didn't see him that often. But whenever we did, it was a treat. If you can imagine Father Christmas before his bushy beard turned snow white and he got the North Pole gig, then you'll get an idea of how I saw Uncle Don. He was always full of humour, bonhomie and with a seemingly inextinguishable twinkle in his eye.
The last time I saw him was at the funeral of my father a few years ago. And ironically, it was the same beast - cancer of oesophagus - that claimed Don a couple of weeks ago.
Another thing Uncle Don and my Dad had in common was that indefinable quality that meant people always remembered them once they met them...
....as for me, I remember him as one of the people who helped add warmth, colour and laughter to my formative years.
I couldn't be at his funeral last week, but I hope that his son (with whom I shared a strong platonic bond despite our age difference of exactly eight years), his daughter (who always seemed impossibly beautiful, gracious and glamourous to me) and their mother (one of my mother's life-long friends) know that I was thinking of them.
I'll be raising a glass of robust red to Uncle Don this Christmas and remembering him with much fondness.