My darling Auntie Lesley passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer, I have no words to describe how sad I am feeling right now, and my heart goes out to my cousins who will be feeling so lost, a feeling I know only too well, as I felt, and still feel the same way about losing my own Mum over 10 years ago.
While death is an inevitable part of life, it doesn’t mean that we get used to it, or accept it graciously or willingly, we fight and we cling on to life until we can’t do it anymore.
Aunty Lesley was inextricably bound up in my childhood, she was I suspect my Mums favourite sister, evinced by the fact that she gave me the same middle name as Lesley’s, something I didn’t even realise until yesterday, now I know where it came from.
My Mum moved to NSW after the death of her first husband in a boating accident, looking I guess for a fresh start. A little bit later on for personal and family reason that I am not going to get into here, Lesley was sent over to NSW to stay with my Mum; by this time my Mum had met the man that was going to be my Dad. It was here that Lesley met Jimmy, who was my Dad’s best friend in Sydney, the usual things happened, Mum married Dad, Lesley married Jimmy.
After the birth of my eldest sister Mum and Dad moved back to Tasmania, I don’t know if Jimmy and Lesley moved back here at the same time, or before or soon after, but I do know that Mum and Lesley spent lots of time together, there are heaps of family photos of Aunty Lesley with my sister and me.
My sister and my cousin Larry are about the same age, and my cousin Colleen and I are also about the same age, which means we grew up together and we spent a great deal of that time down at my Nan’s.
It is one of the more enduring memories of my childhood, the pretend game that Larry, Christine, Colleen and me used to play, most of it is lost in the haze of 40+ years ago, but I do know that it involved a fairy, and perhaps a princess, and that my cousin Larry was some sort of magical animal, but we used to play in Nan’s front porch, or down the back by Grandad’s carport, or if we were feeling daring, in the back porch, where were definitely NOT allowed to play.
Underneath the back stairs, the cellar on very odd occasions and the wild untamed side bit of Nan’s garden where the fuchsia bushes used to grow, it was always shady up there and full of spiders and bugs, but we loved it, even if Nan didn’t because we used to pop the unopened fuchsia bulbs.
I do have other Aunts that I love just as much, and other cousins as well, but we didn’t see that much of Peter or Charlie as they lived up on the west coast and Peter went to boarding school, and my other cousins were several years younger than me, so playing with them was more like being told to babysit than actual playing, plus Grant was a teeny little bit of a bully and Shane was a little brat a lot of the time.
Aunty Lesley used to live in a unit that backed onto the rivulet in Glenorchy, even now I remember that those units weren’t the nicest of places, rats used to live in the rivulet, and it smelt, but that didn’t stop us from playing out there.
Then she moved to a house in Chigwell that backed onto bush and it was awesome, many times we played in the bush, went walking up the track that I think at some point in time had been a loggers track and it was the best place for kids.
Mum and Lesley always remained close and one of the hardest things about this is that Mum and Lesley were the two sisters who looked the most alike, even after Mum had died, it was still like there was some part of her around because of Aunty Lesley.
My heart still did flip flops every time she rang me, because she sounded so much like Mum, and sometimes it was hard not to cry because I missed my Mum so much.
When I spent that interminable nine months in hospital Aunty Lesley dropped into see me several times, along with Bernie her partner and now husband of many years, even when I was in isolation, a cheery face and an “I love you” helped immensely.
About six weeks before I finally left hospital she came round with some bad news, her cancer had returned, and even though it wasn’t the best prognosis she was going to fight it, she told me off for crying, and that I should think positive, that she loved me.
I saw her again for the last time about two weeks before I got out, I was coming out of physio and she and Bernie were on their way to an appointment at the Oncology dept, she could barely speak above a whisper and she looked tired and thin and sad, we looked at each other, I told her that I loved her and was always thinking of her, she said that she loved me too.
Nothing was said about seeing each other soon, I think we both knew that it wasn’t going to happen, I didn’t see her again, and yesterday she left us, my heart is breaking all over again, but I’m damned sure that my Mum, my Nan and Lesley are having the best chin wag and catch up session right now.
Love you Aunty Lesley and thank you for being part of my life.