Gerald never forgot his promise to Megan to make the old house into a place that
they would both love, and over time the house did get done, though at first it was
a lick of paint and some pretty basic repairs.
"How about that Megan?" he had asked when he completed the last of the front
windows. The front of the house was on three levels and it was easy to see that there
had been additions from time to time. There were eight front facing windows, and
they had all required maintenance, some major and some minor, and some, including
the first floor master bedroom, needed to be replaced completely.
"What do you say then?" he shouted out, expecting his wife to be as enthusiastic
as he was. She came out of the house, tea towel in one hand, her youngest son,
now three following on behind.
"Wonderful dear." she said, genuinely pleased that all the rotten woodwork was
gone, replaced and newly painted, "Its looking more like a home all the time.
It was, Gerald knew, only a small triumph, and though the battle had yet to
be won, he was confident of eventual victory. He also knew it would be a long job
to do all that was needed, but he devoted whatever spare time he could and gradually
he worked through, one job at a time, until his vision and reality became the same.
Of course, while there had been a lot of sunshine in their lives' there were
the inevitable showers from time to time, and the Bomally's did not, any more than
anyone else, have a life free from problems.
David had been born in May, nineteen seventy five. Everything seemed to be
alright, and Megan was pleased to have borne another healthy son, in spite of the
hard time she had endured doing so. But later on some difficulties emerged, which
were to cause concern, when his parents began to notice certain behavioural oddities.
Where Richard was bright and active, David was quiet and withdrawn. Richard
was challenging, bold and often naughty. David was meek, obedient, compliant. Where
Richard was the driver, David was driven, and for the first two years of his life,
he gave the impression of being retarded.
Their parents loved then equally, but the sons of Bomally could hardly have
been more different.
Both parents however noticed a difference when Richard started school, and David
was able to immerge from his elder brothers shadow. Not that it was immediately
noticeable, but gradually it dawned on Gerald and Megan that it was the strong dominant
personality of their first son, that had been smothering that of the second. And
so it seemed, for by the time David was going to school, his own quite different
persona had become apparent.
"Thank the lord." Megan had once observed, when, contrary to usual, it was David
who had been guilty of some minor act of defiance, and had been suitably punished
"I never thought we'd see the day."
"Thank the Lord indeed." Gerald had agreed. Neither of them wanting to countenance
bad behaviour, but both were relieved to see that spark of independence which previously
had been missing.
They had been greatly relieved by the presence of Mrs Simpson throughout these
difficult times, for not only had she been a steadying influence on Richard, she
had, at the same time been an encouraging one for David. In addition she had become
their unofficial referee whenever a dispute developed between them. Mrs Simpson
was by now totally absorbed within the family, and, all agreed, indispensable. Both
children respected her special place in the household, and generally accepted her
opinion. Even Richard, whose strong will could overcome most others, would usually
concede to her judgement.
Nevertheless, they could not know at this time that it would be Richard who
was going to be the greater worry. He had always been a difficult child; moody and
sullen one minute, then agile and energetic the next. He was always very bright,
getting good marks and invariably near the top of his class in most subjects. Yet
he was often in trouble, and, his parents discovered, unpopular with his fellow pupils.
He was very active, chasing about here there and everywhere, but somehow not quite
in control. Despite this he did well in all his school subjects, without the irksome
need for lots of swatting.
His school life progressed in this vein, crisis and confrontation, but throughout
it all he always managed good results, until eventually, he easily won a place to
Though life got better for David as the grew up, he could not have been more
different. Shy and reserved, he seemed to have been overawed by the physical dynamo
that was his brother, and never had his buzz. He had to work hard for any success
he achieved and might easily have fallen by the wayside but for the help and encouragement
he got from his parents, and quite a lot of extra tuition. For him the school years
were a grind, but by his own efforts he also managed to earn a place at university,
albeit only just, and with minimal entry qualification, but he got there. Perhaps
inevitably this was followed by the uncomfortable experience of always feeling that
he was on the edge, always struggling, and usually just managing to scrape through.
For David, university meant three long years of slog.
For the family these years of gradual discovery could be described as the sunshine
and shower years; that period when the family developed it's personality, separate
and distinct from the personalities of the four members of it. It was perhaps, viewed
from the outside, one of success, confidence, and stability; solid and unshakable.
But all was not what it seemed, for closer examination would reveal that there
were cracks in the foundation.
Nineteen Ninety Four was a watershed year for the Bomally's; a year that contained
sunshine and tears in large measure. It was in that year while both the boys were
away at their respective universities, when, on one occasion they were surprised
when they were summoned to go home. Fearing some awful occurrence, they were of
course naturally pleased to find both parents in excellent health.
"But what is it then?" First one had asked, and then the other, puzzled by the
'Cheshire cat' look upon both faces, as their parents toyed with them.
"Take a look at that." Gerald said at last, handing a letter to Richard.
David watched as Richard read, noticing the Downing Street embossment at the
top of the letter, and then impatiently pulling the letter from his brothers hands,
when he appeared to have stopped reading.
"Good God." Richard responded bluntly after a few moments, and with little to
show that he was pleased for his father. This was followed somewhat less verbally
by "Well I never." from David.
Both boys were dumbfounded by what they had just read, but it was the younger
of the two, David, who responded first, throwing himself at his father and clasping
his arms around his neck.
"Well done father;" he shouted, and then saying in a mock upper?crust manner,
"Arise Sir Gerald."
Richard's response to his fathers forthcoming recognition was somewhat less
exuberant, as he extended his hand. "Congratulations Father." was all he said, and
soon afterwards he took his leave.
Gerald's greatest accolade was made some time later, when he knelt before the
Queen as she lightly tapped his shoulder with a sword.
"Arise Sir Gerald." he imagined he heard her say, though he was in too much
of a spin to be certain if it were she, or the memory of David's excited chatter
when he had read the letter.
His success had been well earned; his honour for services to industry well
merited, and Gerald felt that he had more than justified his faith in himself. The
family was as stable as most, better than many, and was able to ride the occasional
arguments and disagreements that visit all families. These were the little cracks
which are easily patched up, and do no damage.
But unseen, another unsuspected crack was about to open, which would quickly
become a major fault and would destroy the very foundations of their comfortable
and affluent lifestyle. In that same year the bright sunshine of Richards knighthood
was followed by stormy clouds. Hardly had they got over the excitement when Megan
fell ill, and after some tests it was discovered that she had a cancer. It was a
shattering blow, and in the months that followed, the trauma of the treatment, and
indeed the threat of death, was ever present.
It was a period of adjustment for Gerald and Megan; a period when values and
priorities were examined, reassessed, and many changed. It was a period when their
Christian faith was challenged, and put under threat. That they managed somehow
to hold on was an achievement in itself. But hold on they did, and after nearly
a year of treatment, Megan was told that the cancer was in remission, and after a
period of further treatment she was given the all clear.
The sun was shining once more.
But another crack appeared when Richard, his university years behind him, announced
that he would not be joining his father in 'the business'
"Why ever not?" his unbelieving father had asked, "you'll be set up for life."
"No way," Richard had replied "we'd be at each others throats from the word
It was the first time, at least the first significant time, that the uncomfortable
truth that father and son did not get on, had been voiced.
"Besides, I want to see something of the world; fly my own kite; live a little."
Soon he had left the family home to 'find himself' as he had put it, in London
"To lose himself more likely." his father had said, taking it as a personal
rebuke, and bewildered to have been rejected.
About two years after Richard had flown the nest, David returned home with his
brand new and hard won degree, in business studies. Unlike his brother, he had no
hesitation in joining the family firm, and Gerald was pleased to have at least one
of his sons to groom.
By now Richard was working in the theatre as an assistant stage director; a
grand title for someone at everyone's beck and call, but he had found his niche,
and perhaps for the first time in his life he seemed to be truly happy, in control,
he thought, of the forces that bedevilled him. Forces he had never understood, but
which had always made him feel different, aloof, from other people.
For him, in the theatre, the best was yet to come, but as they say in business
‘There's no such thing as a free lunch'. Somehow, somewhere, everything has to be
paid for, and Richard was to find that success came at a price; more costly that
he could ever anticipate.
The last few years had been good for David too. For four years he had been
estranged from his brother. Not emotionally, but physically and mentally; free from
the shadow that the outspoken opinionated Richard always cast.
He was happy to admit that he had found the going tough, and at times did not
think he would make it. But he did, by his own effort, and was justly proud. The
dissimilarity between the boys was often remarked upon, and few who did not know
would have taken them for brothers. But David had finally developed a personality
that was positive, confident, and pleasing, and his success at the university, against
the odds, had given him a sense of pride he had not previously enjoyed.
He took his place at his fathers side, while his brother was apparently happy
making his way in London's theatre world. Megan was well, and Gerald had been able
to resume control of his ever growing empire.
The sun was still shining for the Bomally’s, but on the horizon, unseen, dark
clouds were gathering