My brother Roger died recently on 5th August, 2003. It was very sudden and a terrible shock. Thankfully my younger brother Liam was with him - he died on his way to hospital with a massive heart attack. We are trying to take consolation from whatever we can and we are glad that he was not alone and that he did not have a long illness. However, it is hard to accept someone dying at 47 - it seems too young.
Roger was the second youngest of the seven of us - the oldest is Drew, then me (Pat), John, Catherine, Danny, then Roger (named after our great uncle) and Liam. We were a pretty happy little family who enjoyed the benefits of being part of a large extended kinship. We saw our aunts, uncles and great uncles every day (my mother's family in Old Kilpatrick) and paid frequent visits to my father's large connection in Clydebank. We also went in pairs with our aunts for long holidays to relatives in Co. Donegal in Ireland.
Affection was showered upon us and Roger, the baby and toddler, received lots of attention - there was a large gap of 5 years between him and John and we all loved the baby. However, our family met with tragedy when Roger was four as then John sustained brain damage.
Suddenly our family was knocked assunder and our mother and father disappeared off to Ireland for three months, where John was desperately ill in hospital with tetanus. Aged thirteen, I had to leave school to help in the family - in particular to take care of Roger. It proved to be sore on him suddenly having no parents around and no longer being the main focus of everyone's attention .
Our mother had another baby, Liam, when she was 46 and she spent most of her pregnancy in hospital. John was at home for a while but suffered from severe epilepsy and had to be admitted to hospital in Dumfries - over a 100 miles away. These traumatic events affected Roger badly and as a child he required support from psychological services.
Whilst he grew up to be the quiet man of the family he was always laughing, he was very popular and made many friends. I think we will mainly remember his laugh and his smile.
He did not go far from home to start his working career and became an apprentice upholsterer at Frank Rennie's - just at the bottom of our street. This proved to be the ideal trade for Roger and he became a very accomplished and highly sought after tradesman. However, he was not overly influenced by the work ethic, whilst his skills were always in great demand, it can be said with some certainty that Roger worked to live rather than lived to work.
Nevertheless, some of his happiest times were spent working in Kelvingrove Art Galleries where he was a technician for five years. He loved the Galleries and enjoyed showing us behind the scenes. He was also happy working in the West End refurbishing antiques.
Still, his social life was more important. Roger made lots of friends throughout his life and those folk he met at the Triangle Youth Club in Old Kilpatrick remain friends till this day. He liked the lassies and they liked him - he was good looking and fun to be with. Roger was married briefly to Maggie McLachlan and although the marriage did not go too well they retained a fond friendship. He suffered more than one broken heart but spoke fondly of his old flames - Big Maggie, Wee Maggie and Vivienne.
He enjoyed some particularly close friendships - the list is too long to mention but in particular he spent a lot of time with Ian, Ken, Jim and Evelyn. They have all been deeply touched by his death and Ian was moved to write a poem in Roger's memory No Rain.
He was a regular in the Glen Lusset Pub and also the Glen Cafe, where he had his lunch almost every day - last night Christine came to ask for a photograph of Roger to hang in the cafe.
He was content to stay around the village for the main part spending time with his friends and his brothers. He was good at keeping in touch and we spoke on the phone every other day. We saw each other often, he never missed a family occasion and was unlikely to decline an invitation. Roger came along to Jim's gigs, to homecomings, to parties. He enjoyed watching films, eating curries and going to the odd concert with his brothers - he held onto his Lou Reid and Bob Dylan tickets.
He brightened up many a family celebration yet had a strong inclination to solitude and spent lots of time on his own.
He knew a lot about a lot of things and enjoyed discussions on outlandish topics with his friends Ian, Ken and our cousin Charlie French. He loved the village and walking to Bowling Harbour with Darren Mullen popping in to chat to Rab Garnett on the way. He loved going to visit our relations in Ireland and in 1981 he spent four months in Buncrana with Michael, John and me. I was doing research for my dissertation and he worked there with a local upholstery firm, we made new friends and had many happy times. We lived in our caravan out in the country beside our cousins and loved the views across Loch Swilly.
Catherine was always asking Roger to visit her in Canada and he has kept all her letters but he never made plans to go. He spoke about the idea vaguely every now and again but really he was a homebird, however, he was thrilled when she came home with Alastair, Lauren and Sean. One thing he never missed was a family celebration or get together. He would always be there adding to the fun and laughing.
Roger would listen to your problems with great patience - though if you were going on about nothing he simply switched off. He had a huge capacity for providing support in a crisis. When our father died after a lengthy illness and when my mother was in hospital prior to her death Roger was the mainstay; although he was a very young man then.
There was something very vulnerable about him and there were hidden depths. When he had a drink he tended to talk rubbish but often, and more and more lately, he just didn't talk at all.
We wonder if he knew how ill he was and just didn't say. He would not have wanted us to worry. Once most of our grieving is done we will have many happy memories and think of his smiling face. We will acknowledge his trials and tribulations, be in awe of his courage, and we will treasure the joy and laughter he brought into our lives
Pat, September, 2003