This wasn't the post I planned to write tonight - a tale about how, yesterday, I'd got to dividing for the heel of last week's sock and then discovered that in my distraction at the hospital, I'd cast on and knitted 36 EXTRA stitches and hadn't noticed until I'd knitted 72 rows. (How didn't I notice I was knitting something that would fit an elephant instead of DH???)
Anyway, that went out the window when I got back from lunch to find an email from my sister (a.k.a. "Eldest Sis"). Eldest Sis broke the sad news that our Auntie Molly died in her sleep last Thursday, at the age of 89. She'd been living in a nursing home in Brisbane for the last three years. Auntie Molly had been my mum's youngest brother's wife.
I sat there at work feeling sad and distracted and angry. The anger was all directed at my mum for not maintaining closer relationships with her siblings and relations. They were in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth (amongst other places), we were isolated in Melbourne. There wasn't a stream of letters back and forth, nor were there frequent telephone calls (we didn't have a phone until I was at primary school). I don't know why this happened, except possibly due to the tyranny of distance.
I didn't really know my Aunt - and I regret that. I have a handful of memories from when we visited for a week when I was 10; and I spent the afternoon with her on my last trip to Brisbane in 2001.
What I do have are my mum's stories; they had been good friends back in the 1940's and '50s before mum moved down to Melbourne. There are loads of stories: how my tiny 4ft 8" aunt had to stand on a step to kiss her 6ft 4" husband; how she used to shop for her shoes in the children's department, often buying her clothes there, too, when she could get classic styles. Then there was the time mum and Auntie Molly went shopping for maternity clothes, when Molly was 7 months pregnant. A snooty shop assistant instructed mum to take her "sister to the children's department. We don't serve little girls here!". Molly turned around to protest and the shop assistant was rendered speechless.
I will always remember Molly as the matriarch: mother of 6 and grandmother to I-don't-remember-how-many. (Being 8 years younger than her youngest child, I fall somewhere between the two.) When we stayed with them in 1975, there was a big family party in the back garden. All the daughters and daughters-in-law brought food, while the boys manned the barbecue. Auntie Molly sat in the middle whilst the action happened around her, a bit like a conductor in front of an orchestra organising this daughter to fetch something, that daughter-in-law to pass around the plates. She was queen of all she surveyed.
Good-bye Auntie Molly and God-bless.