Farewell my Antipodean auntie, the youngest of my father’s six siblings. You were born in India, the youngest child of Welsh missionaries, you married uncle Dennis to whom you were married for 60 years, in the UK and with him you emigrated to Australia. Your good Welsh name flipped pronunciation according to hemisphere, half of us said it one way and half of us said it another but we all knew who we meant.
The last time I saw you was in London when, on your way to meet me, you had fallen down an escalator and instead of sharing a genteel cup of tea together in a cafe, we chatted amiably instead in an ambulance and then in A&E while you were patched up. But even this was not the most dramatic of your several near death experiences.
You have done well to live this long and become a matriarch of a clan, wife of 60 years, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, auntie and great-aunt. As well as, I’m sure, friend to many.
I was sad to hear of your sudden departure, informed by your one remaining sister, Barbara.
This morning when I woke I pictured a family reunion: my own father, his brothers Gilmour and Handley, his sisters Marion and Margaret and now Delyth also. I think it must be DECADES since that particular sibling group has been together in one place, possibly not since their early childhood? I cannot find a picture of all seven together, although I think one exists of all of them with Deyth as the baby.
This is one when my own father was the baby number 5 in 1929.
You have been scattered around the globe, here is my dad and his sister Barbara arriving at school in Bury St Edmunds during the war years having left their parents in India.
You barely made it to each other’s weddings, but did manage to keep up by “airmail”, (oh how quaint) and then later by air travel. Busy with your own lives and busy producing the next generation- the many cousins I have around the world – I don’t think you were ever in the same place at the same time again. However we have still tried to keep up with weddings. Dave and I made it out to Angela’s wedding at which you made us and 9 month old Emma very welcome and then we made it to your grandson Peter’s wedding in 2017.
from left: Paul, Flora, Cedric, Delyth, Richard, Dennis, Ruth, along the front: me: Susan, Angela,
This morning I read Jesus saying “I am the first and the last” (Revelation 1:17) and I heard it as if for the first time in the light of my auntie Barbara’s comment “I am the last one now”.
No you’re not! Jesus is the last. He says so. You will never be the last of anything and nor will I. Neither last in line, nor the last to be chosen for team, nor the last sibling left alive. Jesus, our older brother is alive and he promises to be “the last”. Whenever we think that everyone else has gone and we are the only one left, Jesus is alive and present.
It is a running joke with my own nearly 90-year-old mother that whenever she mentions an older friend or relative we say,
“Ay, they’re deed, they’re all deed now“. It’s a darkly humorous comment which has to be read with a Scottish accent. But Jesus isn’t ‘deed’, that’s the whole point of the Christian faith: he is alive and present and we will never be alone.
So make ’em wait Auntie Barbara! Your big sister Margaret might be tapping her watch and rolling her eyes but you make ’em wait.