Monday, 14 October 2013

Aunt May

                            Feeding chickens

“Go on round and see your Auntie May.” So I did, for then I would get out from under my own mother’s feet and from being bullied by my brother and picked on by my sisters. But best of all I would not have to look after baby while Mum was cleaning up or whatever mothers’ did that it was best not around at that time. So I sauntered round to Aunt May’s house that had a garden that stretched out miles at the back where I could explore and count the chickens and breathe in the scent of the flowers and maybe get a treat too from Auntie May. It might only be a biscuit but it would be for me alone so I would feel special and be able to look inside their house where it was always so tidy and had lots of books and a grandfather clock and it would be just us two alone. Uncle Bill would be at work but even if he came home early that would be alright too as he would pick me up and spin me round and say to me “What have you been doin’ my little rascal.” I wouldn’t have a lot to tell him but the very fact that he would be speaking to me alone would be special and I loved that.

But it was just me and Auntie May that day and I suppose I helped in the garden as she knelt down in her flower beds and talked to the flowers encouraging them to bloom and scolding the bugs for eating the leaves and touching me lightly on the arm would point to the bees as they sought out each flower and came out dusted with pollen. Sometimes if we were very quiet the birds came down in the garden as well and spying the turned soil would scratch and scrape at it finding a snack as Auntie May would nod with approval that all this was right in her world especially if a pesky snail was captured.

Uncle Bill was fun too as he could play his ukulele at family gatherings and sing country songs to make us all laugh. They even had a piano too but we never heard it played but it sat in solemn silence waiting in vain for its notes to be tinkled. I never asked Mum why that was so and now I never will. Children know so little and it is only years later do we learn a little of others lives. Sometimes it is better that we do not know as youngsters for then we are selfish in our understanding.

So it was that I became a regular visitor to see Auntie May and when they went away for a few days I used to go round and feed the chickens and gather the eggs and place them in the bowls in the cool pantry ready for their return and take my allotted share home to Mum.

As I grew uncle Bill even gave me my first driving lesson in his ancient Ford and thus I grew up and away and never knew the sadness of Auntie May’s life or why she was always pleased to see me in those beautiful days of childhood. I was far too young to know that he had beaten her so bad that the baby she had carried inside her stood not a chance and her hopes and dreams of a life fulfilled were dashed…except for her sister’s scrawny child who she loved and hugged when I went to see her. Little did I know then that I was a form of replacement for what she had lost, but of course I was too young to know that other than being with her with her garden and tending her chooks I was an important part of her life. As I grew older I helped her bottle her pickles and stir the jams on the stove I was still helping her live her dream.

Later when I told her I was getting married, she seemed pleased but said a very strange thing. She said “Be gentle with her”

Now after all these years I so wished I had told I loved her so, but it is too late to tell her that now. 


  1. Nice tale, O.E. Might it be true? You ended it just right, "Be gentle..."
    The scars of of cruel abuse remain as long as one lives. It is hard to explain, but there is also a love that remains. It can remain regardless of whether or not forgiveness has been given. I know.

    1. Only a fraction is true Jim, but enough to invent the story. Thanks for the visit.

  2. What a beautiful story, so well told. Somehow, I think Auntie May knew she was loved, at least by a child whom she also loved.

  3. It's rather melancholy. So important for us to be aware that we touch every one we come in contact with and often touch even those we are not even aware of. Be kind in every single thing we do and say. I think if we all tried to live that way we would be so busy we wouldn't even have time for anything else.

  4. This was a very moving story, Robin. It is true that as children growing up we have no real clue about the lives of the adults that make up our circle of family and friends. There are so many things I wish now that I would have thought to ask, that I would love to know! I am certain that Auntie May knew her love and attention was reciprocated. I also hope that her husband felt great remorse for the way he treated her. Domestic abuse is a subject I know too well, that dirty little secret that is kept well hidden and leaves lasting scars. This was an excellent contribution to Two Shoes Tuesday, Robin, thank you!

  5. This is such a poignant tale, and very true to how we see the world as a child and then later as an adult. It's so unfair that it's too late when we realize what questions we want to ask and what words we want to say. Our comfort lies in being gentle with the carelessness of the next generation. They are ignorant, as we were.

  6. Cool, great story! I feel bad for your aunt. I am glad that you got to spend some time with her and make her happy and take care of her chickens!
    : )