My Auntie G, has died. She died yesterday afternoon, after a four year battle with a rare form of melanoma.
I am full of mixed emotions, and not the least of which are sadness and relief. I am sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye to her. That’s now both her and ironically Keffi that I didn’t get to say goodbye to. Maybe this is this way for a reason, UT says maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to see her like that, to remember her that way. I think he’s probably right… now all my memories of her are of golden sunshine (all the sun that eventually gave her this cancer) and her dirty blonde hair, and playing, cuddles, kisses and her Swansea accent that I picked up years ago and never completely lost… now merely absorbed and subsumed by other accents, all melted together into one unplaceable sound.
This was my second mother, the woman who helped to raise me. I’d lived with her off an on during the course of my life, and she was both Auntie and Big Sister, a seemingly free spirit that managed to make you both groan and laugh at the same time.
My memories of her, are wrapped up with the smell of gasoline rising out of the back of her third hand minis, of her driving these cars clueless with the handbrake up; memories of how she introduced me to rock n’ roll.
How because of her, I have an appreciation for The Beach Boys, Led Zepplin, Queen, The Isle Of Mann (British Band from the Seventies, that one of her second cousin’s played drums in, and then later went on to play in Dire Straits).
Yes, she is the reason why I love rock n’ roll…
When she and then later UT lived in that marvellous old house I adored, Alvaro, the length of one wall was taken up with records, and she let us play them on her record players (assorted); my brother and I would put on a record and rock out in Alvaro’s front room, half naked and covered with sprinkles of sand; my brother and I, sprawled out in the front room of Alvaro, ages eight and nine, completely, deeply enthralled by her complete collection of the old radio special ‘The War Of The Worlds’…. that somehow never got boring, and we listened to it endlessly. Memories of going to the pool at Casaurina and eating hamburgers and fries as big as my head. Memories of her picking me up from school, and playing with her hair from the backseat; of her teaching me how to massage her, and then her wheedling extended massages out of me by saying, “You’re ever so good at it, aren’t you?” in her Swansea accent… I partied with Auntie G as a teenager, and as an adult, she was a LARGE part of my life.
My memories now are of Tog Tip, the house after Alvaro, and the house in St. John over Cattlewash… of the first time I got seriously drunk, when I was sixteen, and how she made me go to school instead of getting angry.
My memories are now being built out of the good times. Even the bad memories are no longer important, because there’s nothing for it, nothing to be done. I guess I’m choosing to remember her as I experienced her in childhood. I preferred the golden beach goddess anyway.
And there are so much to remember, more good memories than the bad ones at any rate. She was so much fun when I was a child. She gave the best presents, told the corniest jokes (thankfully I have forgotten my one inexhaustible supply of ‘knock knock’ jokes inherited from her), and loved me.
All my memories of childhood have Auntie G, in the middle somewhere… I’ve known her since I was five. She was my mother’s best friend for so long, it seemed they’d always be friends, but in the end, they grew apart.
After Keffi died, I was angry with her. Angry with her because I felt she had usurped my best friend’s children, but then in the end, what does all that matter. Keffi is dead. Auntie G is dead. I am here, UT is here, and the doodles are here too.
I will miss her. I will miss the golden haired beach goddess of my youth, but I guess the truth is I’ve been missing her for years, and the beach goddess was brought low by the repercussions of so much wanton gluttony of the sun.
Now Keffi’s daughters have that golden memory of her, pristine and unvarnished in their minds… and I have to reconcile that loving goddess with the crone she eventually became, like some maybe all women become.
My heart goes out to her father, who has been outlived by his wife and now his only child. I am sad for him.
My heart goes out to UT, who has lost so many people to various forms of cancer, who must be struggling with the weight of his own memories, regrets, wishings and such. UT, I know you’ll read this… I love you. I’m far away and cannot help you, other than to say I love you and my thoughts and sympathy are with you and the girls.
Mostly, my heart aches for her. She was both bubbly and deeply unhappy, generous and infinitely selfish.
It is my hope that she finds peace now in death, that maybe she never really found in life. I am, like I was when Keffi died, grateful she is not suffering any more. Cancer is becoming this tattoo, a part of the mosaic of my life, and it is with regret I turn over my loved ones, but with prayers for their elevation in spirit, to sit at the feet of God, finally at peace, suffering no more.
I shall miss her.
And I still love Rock N’ Roll…