“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.