Mum just called to tell me that my Great Uncle Len has died. He was my mother’s uncle. I had intended to visit him on Sat­urday after­noon while we were in Sydney but I had a nap instead because I was so exhausted.

He never mar­ried. When we were little, he used to sit us on his knee and tell us stories about when he was a little girl. I have never quite been sure whether that was just a nar­rative trope for us as little girls or a secret way to explore some­thing he wished he could have been brave enough to be. It was a dif­ferent world then, and much harder to make those kinds of steps across gender divides if that is what that was about.

He was funny and kind and he was a war vet­eran. Rest in peace, Uncle Len. If we have a baby boy, we’ll give him your Hebrew name, Leib. Like mine (Rasha Elka), it’s Yid­dish, not Hebrew, as it turns out, and it means lion. A brave lion indeed.