Tanjoubi omedetou! 誕生日おめでとうHappy Birthday – not to be – to uncle Willie. I can just visualise what would be going on in your mind, if you had hung on in there till today. From knowing you… it would be that you were fast reaching the age of your father who passed away at 81 years old. The same would have been applicable with your grandmother. A privilege that none of your brothers or sister were to ever have visited upon them in life. I know too that your heart and mind would have been concentrated on the April weddings of your nephew in Houston,Texas and grand-niece in Ireland respectively. It wouldn’t have surprised me if you’d even planned to go to Texas, because – as with the rest of the relatives you were terribly fond of travelling the globe, providing of course, temperatures are not too warm. I think this time of year in Texas would not be stifling hot and would have been appropriate. You probably had friends there, as in your line of work you had them from all over the world. I used to admire your gift and ease with people. People sought you out far and wide and you always made them feel relaxed. You enjoyed being with them, and it showed, despite your highly developed Japanese reserved mindset. I learned so much from you in life. You treated me the way that I would so much like to be treated by people in general, because you saw the worth in me. You treated me no differently from the rest of the nieces and nephews who were brought up with silver spoons in their mouths. I loved you for that. I know that Mama was so fond of you and it would have pleased her so much to know that you cared and looked after me in the manner that you did.
I gave you so many digs in life because you had the opportunities that I never had, but was also with you so much when you told me about that tall lanky awkward fella that was always hungry and in the way at his boarding school in Wexford. I could relate to the difficulties you had with always wanting to hang out with your older brothers who seemingly did not want you in their company because you were too young. They wanted to be with their peers and not this younger gangly thing that only reminded them of helplessness and of home that they too missed so much. I remember the time you told me, albeit in a shy way, about having received the highest marks in the State exams at St. Peter’s College that covered the whole of Leinster. Wow! That was a big achievement. Nonetheless, your hardened father who spent 25 years serving as an officer in the British army in India and Burma, and who subsequently had a 1,000 men under him was not going to give ‘the long fella’ a swelled head. He kept it from you until you were an adult. I know that you were so proud of the academic and work achievements of your brother Tom who reached the zenith of his career in Canada when he became director of WHO and who was planning on going into Canadian politics just before he died at 56. I think it might be equivalent to the Senate where achievers are sent out to grass. I don’t mean that in a cynical way.