Childhood goodbye

apricottree

It’s really not a good year this one… too much change and none good, too much loss. Too much growing up too.

I feel today i’ve lost my last connection to childhood. My auntie, my grandma’s aunt passed away peacefully in her sleep during the night.

Two weeks ago i found this year’s perfect birthday card for her, she was going to turn 94 at the end of August. She loved getting them and generally getting letters from me. She always told me when we spoke she was proud of me and that i was a good granddaughter and that my grandma and granddad would say the same. Nobody else remembered telling me that as often as she did..

She didn’t have an easy life but she lived to see her granddaughter grow up and play with her 3 great-grandchildren. We’ve lived apart for many years now but i grew up with her, she was more like my second grandma than my aunt.

My childhood memories are all tied to my grandparents and by that i mean my grandad, my gran and her sister, my aunt, Tusi Loluti. There was also their brother, uncle Didor. He had his own family but i do remember him, always well dressed and groomed and my auntie and grandma always told me what a good dancer he was 🙂 I have very few memories of daily life from that time with my parents because in fact it was my grandparents who raised me. We all lived together in a house, the 3 of them, my parents and i. My parents both worked, especially dad really long hours, so my days were spent around my grandparents, the garden and especially the kitchen. The kitchen was in an attached building, outside at the back of the garden.

We had a plum tree at the back of the garden, a few vines, rose bushes and a big apricot tree. I remember the old wood and coal stove in the kitchen with the big and tiny pots on top and the smells of cooking. My auntie used to heat up her lunch before going to work in one of these tiny pots, of which we still have a few at home and i remember sitting next to her and she always shared her food with me, always tasted better from those tiny pots 🙂

I remember Christmas time approaching with the 2 of them spending hours in the kitchen baking the most amazing stuff. My mum still has the old small notebook with yellowed pages with the receipes of lifetimes, most of which only have lists of ingredients, no instructions. Because they all knew how to make them. I copied one year all the ones i could remember for myself. Each of them had their own specialty, the share of receipes they knew best.

And i remember my auntie keeping the house ultra tidy. We had the sitting room where you would only sit when guest came, with everything in its place 🙂 And the old painted white cupboard where they kept the plates with the nicely arranged hills of neatly cut and stacked cakes 🙂 And i remember them both alternatively telling me off and telling me to go to sleep in my bed and not keep waking up and asking for another glass of water, my trick to try and stay up just a bit longer.

I remember the juicy apricots every couple of years when the tree nearly broke with their weight and the massive tin bowl where they would be kept and taken to the kitchen to make amazing jam. Still my favourite today! And i was allowed to do some stirring standing on a small wooden chair.

I remember their washing and the smell of starch in the plastic buckets where my grandad’s shirts where being starched and helping to collect the frozen shirts off the lines outside in winter and their stiffness. The smell of the starch as we brought them back in to thaw in the kitchen.

And  i remember both their voices 🙂 My grandad’s too but mostly them, my grandad was not very chatty and he was always fetching things, fixing thing, going to cue up to buy things while they sorted the household.

They are the best and happiest memories of my life.

My mum has a cousin, my auntie’s daughter. They too grew up together in the same house i did years later. She married an Englishman and moved to the UK before i was born but it would b years before my auntie moved to join them, it was only after my cousin was born.

I know leaving a communist country for the West was a very hard process, but i don’t remember much of that… She moved to the UK, we had to leave the house behind as it was going to be torn down by the communists and ended up living in a block of flats. I was about 11 when we moved but it’s not what i associate with childhood. Childhood was the house, the garden, the kitchen, the grandparents.  My auntie and family moved to the US after a short while and they have been there since.

Soon after both my grandparents passed away, none of them got to see me finish school.

But even if far away my auntie was still there, to ask about recipes, to remember the house, the garden, my grandparents by.

I wish i had seen her again these last few years  not just spoken to her. She and my grand used different words, a mix of languages,a different tone than my parents or i. I wish she was still around to tell me to be more tidy and put things where they belong 🙂

I don’t know what i think about life and passing… I’d like to think she is now with her sister and my grandpa and she can tell them about me finishing school, going to uni, about where i live and work, about baking their recipes.. about how i miss making apricot jam with them.

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21 thoughts on “Childhood goodbye

  1. I’m sorry for your loss, Hari. (((Big Hug))) It sounds as if she led a full and loving life. Thank you for sharing your memories. Where in the U.S. did your Auntie and family move to?

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    • Thank you. It’s not quite sunk in that i can’t just call and speak to her…
      Initially they lived i California for quite a while, then moved to Philly (bed of my uncle’s job, ie her son in law), which is where i visited the only time i’ve ever been to the US back in 94 and for some years they have now been in North Carolina in Cary. I loved Philly when i was there

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  2. You have been on my mind this week and I was going to write you this weekend. I am sorry to hear about your aunt. It is so hard to lose these cherished links to our childhood. Lots of love to you, Jeanne. (I love apricot jam, too…)

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  3. Oh, how sad that you lost such a wonderful lady. And it’s always sad when links to such happy memories are broken. Thank you for sharing them, though. I can almost taste the apricots 😊

    I’m tne same as you – I don’t have any fixed belief about death but I too like to think that maybe there’s a big reunion going on somewhere, on some level… And if there isn’t, then at least there is peace and freedom from the cares of old age. My father died one day before his 94th birthday and we discussed this not long before.

    Anyway big hugs and tell yourself one day you’ll have a house with a big apricot tree and remember your loved ones all over again every time you make jam. 😘

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    • thank you, i sure hope there is that big reunion; i always wished my grandparents had been around for longer. I still miss them a lot and i know she missed them too. They all had very hard lives, with the war, the communism and all but i think we were really happy in spite of everything.

      Who knows about the house… a lot of tings will end with me, the recipes, the memories, there is nobody left to pass them on to. I guess this is just how life sometimes is.

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  4. What beautiful and loving memories, and how fortunate you were to spend so much time with your grandparents and aunt! I am sad for your loss and touched by your memories of the tidy house, the cakes, and the apricot tree. In fact it makes me quite hungry for apricot jam.

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  5. I’m so sorry for your loss and the feeling of “my childhood is gone now” is one that’s very familiar to me, so have an extra hug. I loved hearing about your memories of growing up, though, and i hope you will continue to think of and write about them.

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    • thank you. I really hope they will stay in my mind for a long time and that they won’t fade. Funny, many things from later years have and they are a blur, but these seem to be vivid. Strangely a lot was brought out by the Crucible a few years back and others come back every time i think about my grandparents. It’s not easy to think about them as everything has been destroyed, the house was torn down by communists, i see the spot every time i go home as it is on the way to the airport. It changed my grandparents too as they had built the house. And those times are gone forever. Nevertheless, i am very grateful i had them, the people and the house and the garden and everything.

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  6. Solch wertvolle Erinnerungen sind ein großer Schatz, den dir keiner nehmen kann. Ich glaube für dich daran, dass deine Tante ihrer Schwester und deinem Großvater nun alles über dich ganz genau berichten kann. Sie halten einen Plausch, so wie sie es früher getan haben und müssen sich nie wieder trennen.

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  7. I’m sorry for your loss. May your loving memories of your Auntie help sustain you during this sad time. Your sharing of your memories here is as much a touching tribute to your Auntie as it is to the power of families to nurture and to anchor our lives. And though she is gone, your Auntie will live on through your memories–because you are her legacy in the world. Much Love and Hugs!

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  8. I’m a little late to this, slowly catching up after my vacation. Just wanted to say I’m so very very sorry for your loss! What lovely memories you have, hold on to them and maybe they can make you smile once in a while. (((HUGS)))

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    • thanks so much, support has meant a lot! it’s weird as other losses have happened when i was much smaller and you do feel differently about things. I Think as we grow older we cherish people close to us more and feel their loss more acutely. It’s a process as i’ve come to feel about it… Hugs back xx

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  9. Pingback: I need to have a word with karma.. | Opera is Magic

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