My beloved aunt, who left us on 11 July this year, was a truly remarkable one of a kind person who cared deeply for all life.
She was one of my late father’s two elder sisters. Before I was born, they all lived in the same smallish town where I was to grow up and gain some sort of sense of what the strange world around me was all about.
She was very beautiful, both inside and out.
She married and had three lovely daughters, my cousins, whom I didn’t see very often as they went to a boarding school in a town some two hundred kilometres away. I was quite busy trying to make some sense of my own school career and the various afternoon activities I considered interesting at that time.
My aunt lost her husband fairly early in life, before her youngest had left school as far as I can recall, and she never remarried.
When I was small her elder sister lived between two banks. No, I’m not implying that she lived in the local river with a family of otters. One bank was on one side and the other bank on the other side, but instead of a river flowing between them, there was a flight of stairs leading to a lonely flat with no neighbours, being in the central business district of town. I always imagines how they could have drilled through the walls were they ever short of cash.
My aunt lived in a comfortable house with a suitably large garden to accommodate her passion for all things green.
My aunt had a flair for art and painted some serenely pretty scenes, mostly of flowers. Unfortunately she never really had a chance to develop her potential as an artist. Had she done so I have no doubt she may have had her work shown in galleries. Love for nature shines through the few works which I’ve had the opportunity to see.
Not long after I left school I moved with my mother and stepfather to a city a thousand kilometres from her, so I didn’t see my aunt as often as I would have liked although we sometimes chatted on the phone. We also met up at when I returned to the part of the country I grew up in to attend my father’s memorial service.
A number of years later we found ourselves in the same city again and I began to visit her more regularly. She stayed with her eldest daughter for some time where I used to visit her and one of my cousin’s lovely Dachshunds.
Later my aunt moved to a cottage in an old age “village” and I continued to see her, but not as regularly as I should have.
She lived a full life and will always be remembered for her great love and compassion for every living thing, especially those who cannot speak for themselves. She chose to be a vegetarian on principle because she hated the idea of any animals being harmed. She was so sensitive to human and animal suffering that she eventually refused to watch the news. Her little pocket handkerchief garden rewarded her loving care by presenting her with the soothing sight of beautiful blossoms. She had a semi-feral cat whom she used to feed and provide with water as well as shelter in the form of a little kennel outside the front door, facing towards the flat for shelter from the city’s notorious wind.
She also made friends with numerous birds, even a shrike whom regularly came to the doorway to see whether perchance she had some cheese to spare that day.
None of those who came in contact with her, whether human or non human, can forget her, and her spirit lives on every day in all the little acts of kindness which she inspired in those privileged to know her.