I dedicate this song to my sister-in-law, Jill on her birthday that she celebrates today. Jill is the sister to my ex-wife. Janet. When I courted her older sister after returning from my ‘time out’ in Canada, Jill was but a child (10 years younger than her sister Janet). Jill was still being taught in Primary School. She wore pigtails and sported a spotty face. With her mother having been newly widowed but a short time earlier than me coming on the scene, I naturally did as much as I could to occupy both widow and youngest child when her oldest daughter (my fiancée) was resident at ‘McMillian's Teaching College’ in Bradford, training to become an Infant Teacher for three years of her life.
Little sister, Jill naturally formed a closer than usual bond with me due to having no other father figure to relate with, and I was only too willing to fill the emotional void wherever possible that the loss of her father at such a young age made. I would frequently take Jill and her widowed mother out at weekends in the car and would do odd jobs within my capabilities about the home that her dad would normally have done. Indeed, my relationship with her mother was never one that is customary between a young man and his future mother-in-law. Instead, she treated me more like a son. When Janet and I wed and had two children to our marriage, it was Dorothy who came to our house between 9.00am and 5.00pm daily to babysit her grandsons. This was a task she loved doing and her daily care cover enabled both me and my wife to hold down our full-time jobs.
During the 13 years of my marriage to her oldest daughter, my relationship with Dorothy (mum-in-law) grew from strength to strength. Even when it became obvious that my marriage to her daughter Janet wasn’t working out, (despite the birth of two lovely sons, James and Adam), Dorothy never commented adversely or offered the traditional unasked-for mother-in-law advice.
When the children were aged 4 going on 5, Dorothy was diagnosed with advanced cancer of the lungs. She was a smoker in her early 60s, and instead of going into a hospice (a place she would never have gone to spend her last month of life), I insisted that she return to my marital home to die. I took compassionate leave from work so that I might be with her during the daytime hours when her daughter was working as an infant teacher at the nearby school. It was somewhat difficult because the doctor had never actually told Dorothy that she was dying (she having been assessed by him as being someone who did not want to know of her imminent death). She was with us around one month and I stayed off work during this time to nurse her as she died in our house. It was during her last few days of life when she asked me to do something for her. I asked her ‘what?’ and she held my hand and said, “Promise me, Billy, that you will never change? Never stop being the person you are!” She might have asked all manner of things but instead, near the moment of her death, she acknowledged the love and respect she truly felt for me, God rest her soul.
After her mother’s death, my wife obtained a significant financial inheritance and insisted that we end our marriage, and over the next dozen years after our separation and divorce, my ex-wife refused me whatever access to our two children that she could. Through numerous court hearings that ran into the dozens (costing me tens of thousands of pounds I could ill afford in the process, but was nevertheless obliged to pay), the only person who was prepared to speak for me on my behalf in court was not any of our six close neighbours (who did know the truth, but would not say so in court because all their infant children were being taught by my wife, Janet at the school they attended ). The only person who knew the truth and who was prepared to testify to it in court was my wife’s younger sister, Jill. She was the one person who stood up for me in open court on several occasions and who financially also assisted me when I most needed it.
Jill, ever since you first came into my life, I have loved you for the good person you were then and still are. You ask for very little out of this life and expect even less, yet you give all. I have often thought (like the romantic films of my early youth would frequently show) that I ought to have waited another ten years for you to mature into womanhood and walk the youngest sister down the aisle instead of the older one! There is only one compliment worthy of paying you on this special day that celebrates your birthday, Jill. It is the very same compliment your dear mother paid to me on her death bed, “Promise me, Jill, that you will never change? Never stop being the person you are!”
A very happy birthday, Jill, and please accept my song today in celebration of your special day as a reflection of the love and respect I hold for you. Love Billy xxx
Love and peace Bill xxx