Of Aunt and Angela; Two Remarkable Women

Aunt has gone from thin to gaunt. Her eyes look too large for her face. Her shoulders are blade sharp. Weariness is etched in every movement she makes. Her voice reveals the effort speaking costs her. “I know we don’t get to choose,” she said, “but I don’t want to linger.” I told her about A, and that I have to go home tomorrow as it is A’s funeral on Friday, and her memorial on Saturday. I shared memories of A that made Aunt laugh and then look sad.

 

Aunt’s in bed now, and I am downstairs in the guest room, a reluctant witness to the woman upstairs television tastes. Or a stupid witness. I have my ‘phone, I have my Kitsound pocket boom. Let’s Rock!

 

That’s better. Good old Snow Patrol.

 

I have told her I shall take a photograph tomorrow to send to Uncle Bill who has just had a few days in hospital. Offered the chance of early parole, he opted for house arrest. As a family we don’t make great patients. Anyway, it’s his ninety-fourth birthday on a Friday, of course he wants to be at home.

I brought some of Marks and Spencer’s kale and mango juice. It looks disgusting, like something dredged from a particularly verdant pond (Sabina’s newts would probably feel happily camouflaged) but tastes wonderful.

 

Aunt eyed it doubtfully when I poured a bare inch into a glass for her. But she gave it the double thumbs up, and has drunk more than half the bottle. The bad news is there isn’t an M&S in this town, and Sainsbury’s has nothing similar. Anyone planning to pay her a visit could do worse than come armed with a bottle or three.

 

For someone who isn’t eating, her two fridges are remarkably full. Those years of having nothing have clearly left their mark.

 

While with Aunt, I missed a call from a Rob, A’s husband. I called him back, and learned that A published a volume of her poems shortly before she died. So I shall be revealing her identity, because I want you all to rush out and buy it. Rob says it’s ridiculously expensive, but will be available free online. I think I have to have the hard copy.

 

I am to be one of a group of people who will each read one of Angela’s poems aloud at her memorial service on Saturday morning. Rob asked me if there was one I particularly liked. I mentioned Cows. He doesn’t have a copy, although I do. I described another which talks of her grandmother and great aunts. Rob doesn’t have that one either.

 

“Wow, she was prolific, wasn’t she?” he commented.

 

Apparently one of her last coherent and compos remarks was “Lucky bugger” about someone doing something she’d have liked to do.

 

I bet heaven knows she’s arrived.

 

Angela Inglis, poet, photographer and campaigner.

 

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9 thoughts on “Of Aunt and Angela; Two Remarkable Women

  1. Yes Isobel, two remarkable women. I don’t know either personally but I know from your words… I feel like I know them enough to say that they are remarkable. And brave. I can just see Aunt giving a double thumbs up to the juice and I picture her with the smile in the most recent picture you posted of her. She has the nicest smile. I am so happy you are going to be reading one of Angela’s poems at her memorial service. A volume of her poems… wonderful.

    • I have heard from Rob again, and apparently the poem I am to read is about Angela’s mother and titled Renoir on a Bicycle. That’s one I don’t have, so I am looking forward to when he emails it to me.
      Aunt is defying her cancer. She is lucky not to be in pain. Linda continues to be a wonderful, beyond rubies support. Her positivity has a wonderful knock on effect on Aunt, who knows she has someone she can trust right beside her.

  2. So much to think about in this. Good that you are with Aunt. Not being that keen on mango the juice doesn’t appeal, but maybe if she likes it I should give it a go. Look forward to buying Angela’s book – you know me, any excuse, and I love the poems of hers that you’ve posted. You’re in for a roller coaster few days, and beyond. Shall be thinking of you, and Aunt, and Angela, and Uncle Bill. All of whom I feel I know because of how vividly you write about them. Thank you.

    • I’m sitting in semi darkness in the *lounge* because the Internet signal seems better here than anywhere else. It’s odd to think that at some point this building will be closed to me. I have some of the kale and mango I the fridge at home. You are welcome to try it. I am quite shocked you don`t like mango. I am searching my memory to see if I know of anyone else who dislikes mango. Mother loved it.
      Angela’s Lucky Buggers comment was when she was stuck in bed and couldn’t go to the plays and shows she loved so much.
      Maybe you should come up to East Anglia and meet Aunt.

  3. Such a moving post Isobel. You have had the honour of knowing strong women in your life. Each has left her mark. I’m a little jealous. Does that make sense?

    • I am a bit puzzled; you must have known some strong women too. Angela was head of English in a school I worked in in the early 90s. When I first met her I thought she was mad, then I realised although she was eccentric I really liked her. I grew to respect and admire her, to love her. She is one of the most important women I have been lucky enough to meet in my life.
      As for Aunt, well now you make me think about it, all my aunts were strong women, as was Mother. I might not agree with their actions, their politics, or their decisions, but there wasn’t a shrinking violet among them.
      Thanks Julia, you have made me appreciate anew the women from whom I am descended.

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