Kath was always beautiful from childhood onwards. I don’t think she lacked male attention, but once widowed while still young she had no desire, at least to my knowledge, to remarry. I have the barest memory of her husband. He was on the periphery of my vision, while she was centre stage.
I am interested in how she was unregarding of her looks, how she guarded her independence and supported passionately those causes, almost without exception related to animals, that she espoused. And I suppose espoused is the right word, though when I wrote it a moment ago it was an unthinking choice.
She was the walking antithesis to consumerism. When she was moving to Gozo and Helen and her husband were preparing the cottage to let, Aunt Kath spoke to me wonderingly about how they planned to replace the bathroom. It functioned, was clean, why the need to change it?
Clothes were to keep her warm or cool, depending on the climate, seldom to adorn. But she was no killjoy. She had her done regularly and always looked good. There was no hint of sacrifice, no judgemental comments – unless it was about ill treatment of animals. The things she liked and valued simply did not tally with our modern world’s view of riches. I cannot imagine her going shopping for shopping’s sake. For her, enjoyment came through feeding the fox that wore a path through her garden, clearing the pond on the common that the Environment Agency had declared dead and feeding the fish she helped to restock it with (fish that recognised her voice and would come to edge of the pond sure of a treat, much to the annoyance of the anglers across the water), nature programmes, her family, biographies, puzzle books and jigsaws. You get the picture.
Serendipitously, I started a new cake of soap at the end of last week. There is a connection. It’s a bar of Pear’s soap, a brand I always associate with Kath. I even took some time to her the first time I visited her in Gozo. It was quite unnecessary. The local shops stocked it.