We were all seated around the breakfast table on a Tuesday morning when the butler came in with the morning post. We had a guest round, one of mother's friends, Mrs Humpton.
"Ah thank you George," said mother as the butler came in and handed her the mail.
"Your welcome mam, is there anything else?"
"Oh no, that's all thank you" answered mother.
"Very well mam"
"Oh look there is one from your father here."
Me and my sister ran round as mother opened the sealed envelope. It wasn't a letter, from farther though. It was a letter from a very important man in the war. A very important man indeed who was cursed with the worst job imaginable. Passing on the news. The note ran something like this:
Dear Mrs Pickery
I am verry sorry to be the one to convey you this sad, depressing news. But it is my duty as officer to the regiment to write you this note explaining the heavy hearted death of your newly departed husband. He was killed instantly by a shell bomb projected by the Germans whilst we were trying to make a push. I think I can speak for all of us here in the front lines, when I say that he will be sorely missed. He served well and was used to the best of his abilities.
For a short while we were all silent, I could joke and say silent as the grave, father's grave, but back then I don't think writing a few jokes would help our misery, It was truly a bewilderment.
"I think you should go," said mother.
"Why what is wrong Helen?" said Mrs Humpton.
"Just go, please." replied mother.
"Very well contact me when you have sorted things out then," Mrs Humpton obliged.
"Don't worry dears," she said trying to push a smile through the everpouring tears streaming out of her deep dark eyes. "We. . . It's okay"
"We'll leave you for a bit mother." Dorothy said nudging me.
"Yes, you need some time alone." I said in concession to my sister.
"Thank you dears."
I turned and walked out with my sisters hand in mine, we got into the hall and sat on the stairs together. After a few minutes, Dorothy decided to break the tension.
"Don't worry Arnold, it won't feel bad forever."
I was still young back then, always dreaming of growing up to be like my father. Going off to war and living a true adventure instead of pretending, running around in the back garden. But that was when I realised that going to war was not a blessing but a curse. Going to war and returning alive was a blessing, and going to war and returning a hero was a godsend, and the amount of people who returned alive, let alone a hero was very few.