I have one remaining relative – Dad’s father, my Uncle Peter. Well, I tell a lie. I do have two cousins in Sydney – Robyn and Pippy (or Phillip) who are the children of my mother’s two brothers. Pippy is seventeen years older than me and I last saw him about 20 years ago. Robyn is quite a bit older and I don’t think I’ve seen her since I was about 14 years old – so about 90 years ago. 🙂 Not really close to my mother’s side of the family I’m afraid.

Dad had two brothers. David, who died in 2006, and Peter who is now 88 years old. I met them both a handful of times when Dad and I visited NZ but it wasn’t until last year that I decided to make the effort to get to know Uncle Peter. I met him in February 2012 and it was a bit awkward but he did give me his mother’s five diamond engagement ring. My grandmother died about six months after I was born and Uncle Peter told me she loved horses.

This visit I took El Hubs with me up to Levin where my Uncle and Aunt live and it was a fun afternoon. This time, Uncle Peter was relaxed and chatty and I found out stuff I never knew. Dad was a fighter pilot in WWII. I knew that Uncle Peter had serviced WWII aircraft but had always assumed he’d been based in New Zealand. Nope, he was based in Guadalcanal, which of course was a significant strategic offensive in the Pacific theatre of war. I had no idea he’d been stationed there and he told me all about how the troops lived in harsh conditions, plagued by malaria. He also told me that on his return to NZ, people would often call those who served in the Pacific coconut bombers. He brought out the cap he used to wear during WWII (I presume it’s the RNZAF but I forgot to ask).

I also didn’t know that Uncle Peter was a commercial artist before he retired. In the living room of his Levin house, he has three of his drawings framed and clearly he was super-talented.

I asked him about his secret to long life because both my grandparents died young – my grandfather at 56 years and my grandmother in her early 60s. Dad died just short of 68 years. Uncle Peter’s wife, Joyce, is I think the same age (88 years) and both of them are in good health with my Uncle still driving and very mobile. His response was that he has never smoked nor drunk alcohol and Aunt Joyce makes all food from scratch, nothing processed. This is the same attitude as my mother and her father – both lived to 91 years, never smoked nor drank and were health fanatics.

I’m hoping to go up again to Levin to see them some time this year and maybe stay a little longer.

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Uncle Peter was clearly a talented artist.

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The cap Uncle Peter wore during his time in the service in WWII.

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Still very hale and hearty at 88 years old!

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Uncle Peter and Aunt Joyce with their adopted daughter, Linda. I’m the one with red hair.

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