Tribute to a Great Aunt

Aunty Doll 2015

13th June 2015:        Dear Aunty Doll……..Forty Five years since you left us, but it feels like only yesterday; when we played, ‘doggies’ on the bus, made pancakes and ate chips from newspaper bags, You left so very suddenly, no time to say goodbye. The trips to the post office, how I loved those, you created some wonderful memories for us, memories never to be forgotten or dismissed too lightly. I still appreciate and remember daily, those halcyon days, and more. Our trips to Auntie Rose’s house and our walks to the nearby pond, feeding the ducks, and the red cabbage in the sweet jar that came out at Christmas. We always seemed to have Christmas’s at Auntie Roses. She would bring out the nuts and oranges, and I vividly remember her   green bathroom, I guess it was the height of fashion in the 1950’s.We were only allowed to peek into her upstairs bedrooms but I can still remember seeing those deep, deep satin covered quilts, unforgettable for a small child who had only ever seen thin grey army blankets. Our times in the Northwood road flat with its bare scullery, solitary gas stove, and outside toilet (although it did have the comforting light of a flickering candle) to guide a seven year old to the toilet in the dark nights. Darkness pierces my mind as I remember our little eating area by the black range, we didn’t have the luxury then of instant electric lights. Sitting at your cosy wooden pine table where we ate our Hovis rolls and sipped our tomato soup. Where we drank our nightly cocoa, which we always poured into the saucer to cool before pouring back into the cup to drink, or did we drink it from those saucers? You taught us to do that. We played Ludo and dominoes on that same table. There was the old fashioned food cupboard with the slatted doors, complete with the smell of dust and mould; bizarrely even today that smell still evokes happy memories for me. It was in that bare back room by the coal fire range as I’d stared into those burning and charred embers of a dying fire, that I made an inner vow. Yes I vowed never to love anybody again. I loved you way too much, and it hurt to think that one day you would die and leave me. Even as an innocent seven year old, I recognised that love was a dangerous thing. The horse hair chaise lounge in the front parlour, a particular delight as I remember its black Sheen with the prickly horse hairs desperate to escape, is vivid to this day. The chalky whiteness of the Taj Mahal, sitting safe in its protective glass dome, and the Persian half moon rug before the empty black grate, I want to cry out with passion thank you God for such rich lasting and vivid memories, you provided those, you never knew how much you enriched our childhood. You let us play out in the street with the Bolts, your cousins who lived next door, street games fantastic, thank you……… We played until dusk, and those games were made much more exciting because at home in our council house we were so protected, we were not allowed outside the garden gates……On bonfire nights we had to watch from the bedroom windows the fire and fireworks. Dad was so afraid that something would harm us, but not you, you allowed us our freedom. I can never leave out the faith healer Mr Wheeler……..the memories of how God healed you from cancer, the Lord’s Prayer being said as you sat in the brown wooden chair. Old ladies who drank copious cups of tea from bone china teacups, and those angel pictures on the walls carefully watching it all, what memories. As we walked home we would always stop at the sweet shop to buy sticky blackjacks and lemon sherbet. It was you who sat with me while I cried tears of dread in the Dentists waiting room, and you who held my hand in the doctors, I was always so afraid; but you were there bringing Gods redeeming love into those traumatic situations. Happy days yes, and that’s why this letter is so important. I want to tell you how sorry I am that I made you so unhappy in your last years. My one abiding memory is of you standing by the kitchen stove, still making the cocoa drink before your bedtime. Your once beautiful hair in a long grey plait, I could see your tears, tears of sadness and suffering……It must have been so desperate for you to see your nieces whom you loved with a quiet passion, turn into monsters before your very eyes.

The day I saw you in the mortuary, although only fifteen at the time and certainly more interested in getting myself some black lacy tights for the occasion, I knew that wasn’t you, you had gone. A deep inner voice said you had left us; you were no longer resident in that body. It was to be for me a not to be forgotten revelation. There is so much more I could say……but just THIS ONE TRUE THING……..I love you still with all my heart, I have to say the words……please forgive me, although I already know the answer…..I am forgiven and loved………… Your inspiration, love, and prayers are clearly seen in my writing of this Blog, in the writing of my memoirs, and in my courage to stand up and tell the world th

(2 Corinthians 1: 5) will bear fruit………Fruit for the kingdom of God……..that would have been your wish. Angela


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