Family Left Baffled By Eccentric Brother's Home After He Passed Away
It's never easy going through the belongings of a recently-departed loved one, but one man in Merseyside gave his family the shock of their lives when they discovered the weird and wonderful world he had created inside the rented home he lived in.
Ron Gittins rented a ground floor flat in a Victorian terraced house in Oxton village, Merseyside, where he was often spotted in the streets pushing an old-fashioned pram filled with the bags of cement he used to build his giant fireplaces.
From the outside, his home looked like any others along the street. However, when his family entered the flat after he died last September - the first time they'd been there in seven years - they were astonished by what they found.
His older sister, Pat Williams, knew that Ron had a theatrical streak, having grown up seeing him walking to the local post office in vintage military uniform.
A month away from his 80th birthday when he died, Ron's behaviour grew increasingly eccentric over the years, having turned up to Pat's 80th birthday in a thick coat, wellies, a wig and a hat 'in case his head got cold'.
But even those experiences couldn't brace Pat for what she found behind his front door, which included three-metre-tall lion and bull fireplaces, vivid murals and a life-sized papier mache model of Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
Pat, 82, said: "When we first went inside after he died I had the shock of my life because it was absolutely full of all sorts of stuff. How he coped in there I just don't know.
"I don't appreciate all his art but what he's done is incredible. The fireplaces are extraordinary."
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Remembering her brother, she continued: "As a child he was hyperactive and very creative.
"When he was a boy he used to make little soldiers out of Plasticine that were from all types of regiments and countries. The details in the uniforms were incredible.
"He used to get into trouble in school for attention seeking and being what was thought to be mischievous and a little bit naughty but I think he was just bored a lot of the time.
"Today he would be diagnosed on the autism spectrum, I'm sure of it, and be treated with much more acceptance."
While Pat and Ron had stayed in touch until he passed away, their relationship was sometimes strained - partly due to Pat's career.
Pat, a former Wirral Mayor and was a Liberal Democrat councillor until she retired from politics at the age of 79, explained: "He resented the fact that I was the eldest and a woman. He had this view that men are really the ones that should be in charge. But he was a very big supporter of Margaret Thatcher."
But while they would sometimes argue, the last time they met Ron had visited Pat at home with a big bunch of flowers for her birthday - admittedly a few months late.
When Ron died, Pat decided to place two of his hats and a wig on his coffin, rather than the more traditional offering of flowers, which she felt he would have enjoyed.
She added: "I was sad that he died on his own but he didn't want everybody to know he wasn't well and he didn't want to go to hospital.
"He lived life on his own terms."
Featured Image Credit: Liverpool Echo