My niece is 10 years old today, it's flown by, and so we celebrated her birthday this lunch time with a party at her house, where all her surviving grandparents were present as was myself, my sister and brother in law. Not a big party, but she's going to have a party early next year at the local leisure centre, as normal.
We had a pleasant time at her house, whilst she played with her new toys from both Christmas and now Birthday, all was well with my mum and myself for that matter. Nothing was wrong and no problems we knew of.
Once home however that's when the pain came. We got a phone call to say that my God Father had passed away on Boxing day. Uncle Fred as I knew him had been in a home for the past few years and if I'm honest I'd not been to see him for a few years, but he was always with me if you know what I mean. He was a neighbour to my parents and sister in the house before they moved to where we've lived for the past 35 years. He and his sister became very much close family friends, if not part of our family, and remained so after the houses they and my family had lived in had been pulled down. As my grandfather died whilst I was a baby or just before I was born, it was at a point where I didn't remember him or even know him, my Uncle Fred became the closest thing to a grandfather that I had, and to lose him just hurts so much. The guy was legendary, apart from him being my grandfather he was a well known butcher in Salford through the 60's and 70's, people knew him far and wide. I recall being in Florida on holiday in the early 80's and some one stopped our family as they recognised the Salford accent. After telling us where they'd grown up, they then asked did we know the butcher Fred... We travel thousands of miles on our holidays and we are asked by a random family if we knew him, that's the measure of the guy.
I feel awful not going to see him for so long, but it's been difficult, and it's a big regret. I doubt he'd have known who I was however, he was losing it the last time we spoke, but he'll always be a part of me. It was strange that only last night at mum's with some of her and dad's friends around we mentioned my Uncle, and talked with passion about him, unaware that he'd died. I'm sure if there is something after death, then right now, he'll have met up with the rest of his family and my dad wouldn't be far behind to catch up on the past few years they've been apart.
To my Uncle Fred, thank you for all the wonderful tales and times you spent with our family. I'm really finding it hard to come to terms with the news, but where ever you are, make sure you've some sausages made for when we next meet, it may have been over 25 years since your butchers shop shut, but I've never found a sausage that I've enjoyed as much as yours....... Here's a poem that I found online about my uncle and his butchers shop. You see he was famous enough to be found via google.
CROSS LANE remembered by LILIAN SWANWICK
Cross Lane was famous for all it's ale-houses,
And shops that sold frocks, and men's baggy trousers,
Pawnshops, chip shops, and good theatres, too,
And some, like the pot shops, that sold dolly blue.
Fred Oddie, the butcher, with a good sausage trade,
And a barracks nearby, where soldiers were made,
There were bicycles, handcarts, and tramcars with bells,
And the markets, of course, with linoleum smells,
Lucketti's hot potatoes, and ice cream in tubs,
But the best of Cross Lane was the piano'd pubs