My ‘Big Brother’ – but neither TV programme nor from 1984 book

Another special, personal, post. I hope you find it to be of interest. It is NOT related to  COVID-19 in any way.


Just last week, I completed one of those lockdown lists of questions. It had been posted on Facebook by my friend Julia, so I decided to open up about myself. First on the list asked if I swear and, yes, I do – especially when having MS means I cannot grip anything in my left hand. Not even a piece of paper.

Further down the post, it asked about siblings and I answered: “One sister, one deceased brother”. That made me stop and think.

My brother Graham, 11, sister Averil, 7, and the baby me. The earliest picture I have of the three of us together.

My brother, Graham, had been 11 years older than me and had died when he was just 48. I had been 37 then and am 67 now. Hmm, 30 years.

I was not sure of the exact date but, after checking around, my nephew Scott said his dad had passed on April 18, 1990. Ok, I missed the anniversary by a couple of days, but I am sure he wouldn’t mind.

Ours was not a family in which the children played together, probably due to the age differences. When I was 7, my sister Averil was 14, and Graham was 18; a child at his first school, a teenage girl in her third year at secondary school (year 10, today), and a young man in his first job.

Family portrait 1959. Averil, 13, Graham, 17, Dad (Henry), 43, me in bow tie, 6, and Mum (Peggy), 37.

Both my brother and sister had their own serious relationships at the same time with Graham marrying Pat two months before his 21st birthday with Averil wedding Bob when she was 18. By the time I was 11, then, both my siblings had left the family home. For all intents and purposes, at home, I had become an only child.

Graham and Pat (actually Priscilla, and now on Facebook as Cilla Franks) stayed in the same town and that, in fact, let us get closer together.

I used to watch him play football (soccer).

When he switched to refereeing, I used to go with him and be a linesman if needed.

Later, I qualified as a referee and took charge of adult matches while aged just 16.

We both played cricket for the same team every weekend.

He also played the drums and sang in his own dance trio, but I was not involved there. Me? Musical? No chance.

Report of my brother’s inquest that appeared in a Folkestone local newspaper in June 1990.

Eventually, Graham and Pat moved several miles away and his interests went with him. As time went by, I got married and moved in the opposite direction ad that really ended our joint sporting endeavours. Anyway, by then I was playing hockey, field not ice, at club level. Strangely, where he had been his football team’s goalkeeper, that also became my position on the hockey pitch

Graham and Pat had six children but their marriage ended in divorce. He fathered another three with his second wife, Catherine.

He was much-loved and is still missed by his family, and his sudden and unexpected death seems to have been a tragic accident.

Graham had got up early to go to work running his own carpet cleaning business. He ran a bath while he shaved and appears to have had an epileptic seizure that caused him to fall into the bath and drown without regaining consciousness.

Regular readers will know I have MS, or multiple sclerosis, but only a few will be aware that I also have epilepsy which is totally controlled by medication. Tests prove it is still there, waiting to pounce. So, despite being seizure-free since 1975 – yes, 45 years – that medication will be taken twice a day for the rest of my life.

In some ways, April is not too good a month for me:

but it was different one, extra special, year:

  • 2010 – I proposed to Lisa “when we are both free” and she accepted. Two divorces and 18 months later, we enjoyed a sunset beach wedding in Florida. It was in glorious weather, with dolphins playing just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. A super-sweet, loving, and ever-lasting memory.

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Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.

For example:

Centre                              not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control)                  Colour                              not color                                                                                                                      Diarrhoea                       not diarrhea                                                                                                  Haematology                not hematology                                                                                Haematopoietic          not hematopoietic

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.


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