The architect

30 Jan
Probably taken in the late 1940s

Thursday marked 7 years since Dad died. I hadn’t remembered the date, perhaps to my shame. But I realise I don’t lodge death dates in my brain, except for Great Uncle Walter, who died on my birthday – I remember the phone ringing and me expecting it to be someone wishing me happy birthday! The excitement! And then the accompanying sadness, and a sense of guilt that I felt so annoyed that my birthday was ruined by this news. But Uncle Walter had been a grandfather figure to me and my siblings throughout our childhood, when our own grandparents were living in South Africa. Perhaps I will write more on him another day…

Dad was born in 1920, in Berlin. He came to the UK in 1936 to finish school somewhere he would be more able to flourish. The Nazi youth were already being pretty brutal by all accounts. Dad studied architecture, through the war, was interned in Canada for a year and on his return made Scotland his home.

In the early 1950s he had a whirlwind romance with Betty, who was travelling around the coastline of Britain on a white horse … Dad was entranced and a few weeks after they first met, they married in Fortwilliam under the moonlight. I should say that I knew nothing of this story until a few months ago when my sister, his daughter from that first marriage, came to visit.

Coming up to Christmas a few years after his divorce, Dad went to the local gift shop to buy Christmas cards to send to his family in Germany. He had a large family, but only bought one card. The next day he returned and bought another card. And again the next.

Mum was working in that gift shop, and Dad just wanted an excuse to keep returning. They married in March – I’ve never discovered if it was 3 months, or 15 months after they first met.

I inherited the ability to water divine from Dad
Dad designed and had built a ‘wee house’ at the bottom of our garden. I LOVED that wee house – here I am enjoying it with my two brothers.

Anyway, Dad was an architect. And when I come to Galloway, I see him almost everywhere I look – his thumbprint is on so many buildings here, his legacy is all around me. But he left so much more than physical buildings – he left friends who adored him and family (near and far) who loved him. And when it comes to it, what more do we need to leave behind than love?

Dad with his big sister and his Dad
Dad with his two sisters
Dad, a year before he died, at the opening of an exhibition of his student work (yes, his STUDENT work, created more than 70 years earlier)

2 Responses to “The architect”

  1. Jan January 30, 2022 at 7:51 pm #

    I wonder if Betty finished her book.


  2. Susan Garnsworthyl January 31, 2022 at 8:01 pm #

    Such a beautiful memoir of your father, a man I never met, but knew a little about, from his sister Lilo. He comes alive in your description and I regret never knowing him.


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