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  • Kay Fletcher

Childhood 03/10/2014

A phone call came this morning, just as I got in from taking our little boy to school. My Auntie had passed away at 11 p.m. the previous evening. I hadn’t seen her or talked to her for a couple of years. She always sent our little boy money at Christmas, Easter and birthdays. We sent thank you notes, birthday and Christmas cards back and forth and my mother kept us up to date with news of how she was doing. She had never met our son and now I regret not having made the effort to take him to meet her. It was never as simple as that in reality, and that reality seems even sadder now. Auntie Rose felt like a permanent fixture to the back drop of my life. She was steadfast and dependable. She had always been there; she would always be there – in the background. Her familiar presence reassuring and safe, just like her set ways. It seemed you would always find Auntie Rose in her pinny, always find her at home and in her kitchen. We would have been stunned to have found she was out and shocked if her house had ever been a mess – we knew to take off our shoes and leave them outside! But we also knew she would always welcome us and usher us in, in to her ‘best’ room. She also made the best welshcakes I have ever tasted. No matter how many I have sampled since I have always been disappointed. None have had the lightness and melt in the mouth effect of Auntie Rose’s freshly made offerings. It feels as if lots of things have gone with her passing – a vital role lost to the family. A lynchpin, a main link broken. She was my Auntie, and my cousin’s Nana, and it felt like she was made for these roles – she was steadfast, calm, consistent and unflappable. It’s funny how someone can seem so solid and so defined by their role that you really do take them for granted, not that I realised I was doing this until it was too late, until something unthinkable had happened to one of the characters held in the stasis of childhood imagery. A familiar certainty has been challenged; a direct access to my childhood has been taken away. My childhood was surely a snapshot of forever and now the anchoring of my childhood memories is weakened. It is funny how something happening now in my adult life can seem to impact upon my childhood; it’s as if I’m scared I will lose her from the fabric of my childhood, that by her exit from life she will no longer be a part of the canvas of my childhood. As if her death touches the child of so long ago, as if her passing reverberates through time and casts a pall over the sunny memories of beach holidays, visits to the Brecon Beacons and family parties. It’s hard to explain, but it’s the child in me that feels she has lost something – a background to my childhood that both boundaried and enabled it, safeguarding its imprint on my memories. Is there also a sense of a role model leaving me, and being left to navigate this life as a role model of the next generation? Perhaps a sense of a beacon handed on, an era ending? While the links with my past are disappearing, no longer here, no longer available to me in this life in order to validate my feelings of childhood complacency? Auntie Rose has always been in the background of my life, and I now realise that it is the people in these roles who become ever present mainstays, but who get overlooked in the certainty of ‘so it has been, so it will always be’. She was a mainstay of my childhood and I loved her very much. I wish I had realised the importance of the background in my childhood. My childhood is not a snapshot of forever then, as slowly the cast list really are exiting the stage, existing only in holiday snapshots now, in flashbacks and connections remembered as my own son asks his questions. He, then, has become the link to past, present and future, the way to go forward, to remember Auntie Rose and keep my childhood memories safe. Nos Da Auntie Rose, I love You. Thank You.

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