Saturday, June 24, 2023

Aunty Nancy

My aunt passed away yesterday.

She had been ill for quite some time, but has recently had lengthy stays in hospital. We learned she was back in hospital earlier this week and my parents had their last contact with her yesterday morning. It was during the evening call attempt when we found out that her health had deteriorated further.

Nancy was, without a shadow of a doubt, the closest relative I had on my mother's side of the family. She was also my godmother, so that - I hope - strengthens my statement about how close she was to me.

Seeing as she lived over in Ireland, I didn't get to see her as frequently as I could have. With that said, she kept in contact a lot. She never forgot my birthdays and would even send us St. Patrick's Day cards every year.

I went to bed last night and thought of so many random things about my visits over there, or of hers here. I promise you they are very, very random.

There was one morning when she said she'd buy me a Flipper if I went with her to walk her dogs. I had no idea what a 'Flipper' was, but I was intrigued. 

I obviously took the dogs out with her and spent all that walk wondering what a Flipper was. She asked me if I had ever seen the dolphin. At that point in my life, I hadn't.

Anyway, on the way home, she stopped at the shop and returned with a paper bag. Out came a large marshmallow shaped like a dolphin and she was wiggling it like a fish in front of me.

'That's a Flipper!' she exclaimed.

Not long after that, I came across the Flipper TV series and it made more sense.

I am not going to check old posts right now, because I want to just throw out some memories that have flooded back to me, I know I wrote about the Jean Claude Van Damme movie - Cyborg.

Nancy wouldn't let me watch it because there is a scene in it where Van Damme (or somebody else) is hung up. She felt that my mother wouldn't have liked the crucifixion symbolism so told me to pick a different film.

A day or so later, she sent me down to the video shop to loan a new movie. That was my opportunity to get Cyborg. I reasoned that my aunt would have to let me watch it if I had brought it back.

I picked up the cassette case and took it to the counter only for the lady at the desk to look at me, raise her index finger in the air and then dive it down onto the image of the 18 on the box.

Plan thwarted, I left the shop only to find my aunt running down the hill. She realised that I wouldn't have been able to loan any films that were beyond PG, so came back into the video shop with me.

Can you guess what I tried to pick up again? Yes - Cyborg. Plan B failed as well.

All was not lost, though. we ended up renting a martial arts movie titled China O'Brien, which introduced me to Cynthia Rothrock, who - at that time - was in quite a lot of straight-to-video martial arts flicks.

I also watched Police Academy VI: City Under Siege that week. The less said about that the better!

On that visit to Ireland, she took my father and I on a visit to the Guinness factory. I recall it was the day before we travelled back home and I didn't want the day to end. I even remember that she handed me a bag of fudge for the journey home. They're the kind you still find in supermarkets nowadays which come in a bag and the bits of fudge come in see-through wrapping. On the occasions I've purchased bags of fudge like that - mainly from Asda - I always think of my Aunt Nancy telling me how much she liked it. 

It's going to be even more sentimental when I buy those treats in future.

The physical similarities between my mum and aunt were so strong you would think they were identical twins. In fact, I know two people who believed they were.

I once tricked my girlfriend at the time that she was my mother's twin sister. I came clean after a while and told her my aunt was the youngest sister.

The next moment of their twin similarities came when my youngest nephew met my aunt for the first time. This must have been close to his first birthday. My aunt had arrived here and I plonked him on the living room floor to sit down with some toys. My mum entered the room and sat on the sofa beside my aunt and they started talking. As they did, I noticed my nephew was sitting there enthralled by the two. His gaze went from one person to the other. It was obvious he was working out why they both looked alike. The way his head kept moving from one person to the other was like he was in the middle section of a tennis match and he was following the ball.

I really could go on with many more random memories. I'll end with one I've been running through my mind for the best part of a day because I have been trying to recall a key part.

I was outside in my aunt and uncle's garden and something happened to make me cry. It was one of two things because I remember two occasions when I was upset in that garden. It was either, I couldn't make a hole for the golf set I had been given (I thought the tees were there to make a hole!) or if it was because I had broken a sling I had made out of wood, nails and a washing peg that would fire elastic bands. 

Whatever it was, I was crying my eyes out and both Aunt and Uncle came out to see me. They both hugged me and told me that 'life is too short' to be upset about whatever was troubling me.

I'm the only person alive who can remember that moment and I don't know which of the two things caused the waterworks. It doesn't frustrate me completely, though. The message was the important thing. 

Life is too short. 

They're both together again now.

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