Up Front by Emma Hart

Read Post

Up Front: The Aunties

39 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

  • Islander, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I think that as long as a family is loving, it doesn’t matter the size. Like anything in life, what we have experienced is what we’re used to

    O yes, dear Jackie, and, o yes!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Scott A,

    This story brought tears to my eyes, not least because my family just doesn't do this. Sad, for us, I guess.

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Emma Hart,

    What I think about my own children is that perhaps I should take them aside and caution them that their mother wasn't quite as big a slapper as her friends' Edited Highlights Reel sometimes makes it sound.

    You're not supposed to lie to kids - they'll get a complex or something...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2153 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    On a more serious note, I have 5 sisters and a brother and the age range spans 20 years with me in the middle. We all talk to each other (and sometimes listen), care for each other, argue with each other and basically love each other. As a band, we're a formidable bunch - parents were both teachers and they brought us up to think. It can be difficult for the in-laws to deal with around the table with each of us involved in 2 or more conversations, simultaneously.

    When I was growing up, I thought all families were like ours but experience showed otherwise. I could not imagine not speaking to my brother for 40 years, but an in-law has done exactly that and will go to her grave without changing. There are no feuds in our whanau. We're not saints, mind - things can get testy, especially in the kitchen at Xmas, depending on whose house we're all at. But it's over by the end of the day, or even the meal.

    We're also quite different from any of our batches of cousins - there's some long term issues (to the point of psychosis) in some of those families. I'm currently helping my mother organise our family history (back to 1755 so far), so I'm hoping to meet some new relatives which may help determine what is weird and what is normal in family dynamics.

    On the other hand, I have only a few friends I would go to the wall for, and I actually think of them as my extended whanau.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2153 posts Report Reply

  • Gee, in reply to nzlemming,

    On the other hand, I have only a few friends I would go to the wall for, and I actually think of them as my extended whanau.

    Exactly this. And my 'aunties' and 'uncles' made it abundantly clear how much fun my parents had before us kids, and now that we're older, the 'real' aunties and uncles do that, too. Sometimes wish I was in the habit of videoing family and extended whanau visits so I could show my future kids what their grandparents' lives were like.

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Scott A,

    my family just doesn't do this.

    Neither does mine, well not in the same way. Mine is more uptight and has many conditions attached while being fragmented individually and collectively. So gatherings can be good, can be fraught; you never know how it will play, but as a group never easy. My partner's family, on the other hand, are a freaking mess.

    But the important thing for me is the family (in the wider sense) we are creating; and that creation is a good one.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I come from a large family. My siblings (counting half-siblings) run into double digits. We all know each other's business and are fond of telling each other what to do, but as we seldom listen, nobody gets too offended. My mother has raised selective listening to a high art. I remember my ex-partner reeling in horror at the forceful way I would give Mum my opinion; he later realised she takes almost no notice at all. In fact sometimes the day after I’ve delivered a lengthy opinion on something she’ll ask me with all innocence, “What do you think about this, dear?” And then give every appearance of listening with interest to my reply.

    I love my family very very much. But there is a handful of close friends who I also consider to be family. We might sometimes fall out, or be far apart geographically, but the strong ties persist, and when we’re together none of that matters at all.

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to be an only child, or not to have family totally enmeshed in my life. But like Emma says, there are lots of ways to be happy, even if the other ways are beyond our experience.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3466 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    I had three Great-Aunties who lived together. Two in a little house and one in the a flat out the back of the garage. They were 3 of 7 girls, their widowed mother brought them out to NZ from England by herself in the 20s. Remarkable to think about that now. Only two of the girls ever had children.

    They were great old birds. One of them had a life-long delusion/fantasy that she was the Earl of Kitchener's illegitimate daughter. After her death we found much correspondence, including a letter from the Estate of Lord Kitchener, very politely explaining that they could find no evidence to substantiate her claims.

    Another was always called "Dot", which, as a child, I assumed was due to the very prominent mole on her face.

    They had a front room which, as far as I can remember, no-one ever used. It was always cups of tea around the kitchen table, in the laughably small kitchen.

    Come Christmas time someone would always go and get "The Aunts" and they would arrive, ghost-like in their enthusiastically applied face powder. "One more sherry Aunty Dot? .. Oh why not dear, it is a Christmas".

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lilith __,

    the day after I’ve delivered a lengthy opinion on something she’ll ask me with all innocence, “What do you think about this, dear?” And then give every appearance of listening with interest to my reply.

    Or she is simply determining that you believe that thing two days in a row :). Of course that would mean she actually did listen the first time and was merely messing with your head.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to nzlemming,

    On the other hand, I have only a few friends I would go to the wall for, and I actually think of them as my extended whanau.

    Indeed.
    I used to have quite a few very good friends, but 7 of them died between 1992 & the early 2000s. Those that remain I cherish -

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Aidan,

    Aidan, the Aunts lived together in the house nextdoor to my Nanna's home - there was a gate between the 2 fences. Florence (who had been widowed very early, and left with a small child) was the main breadwinner - she had her letters for teaching piano & organ. Cynth - who had suffered the same early widowhood & being a solo mum, and lost her child in an accident when he was 10 - was an accomplished tailor, and brought in additional funds. Doll (short for Dollina) very probably had Down's syndrome, and was kind of a general skivvy. They all looked after their mother there, until she died. When Doll died (she lived into her seventies) another widowed sister, Peg, joined the household. Peg's daughter owns the house now, and my mother owns her parents' house.
    There is still a gate in the fence. And there is still the daily to-ing & fro-ing between the houses...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    We may be small but we make up for it in closeness and honesty. My partner is frequently boggled b the way I can volubly enumerate all the ways my parents are wrong and we're still all ok with eachother afterwards.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan, in reply to Islander,

    Islander .. sorry, been away. Amazingly similar! The women are left and support each other. Bloody brilliant.

    My Great Aunt Irene (the one who lived in the apartment out the back of the garage) had lived most of her working life back in the UK - she applied and was accepted into a british nursing program. When she retired and had some health issues her sisters urged her to come back to NZ so she had some support.

    The other side of the coin -- my Mum's paternal grandfather was a chronic gambler. They rarely saw much of him, but eventually my Grandfather built him a little "whare" in the backyard to live in. He sometimes had a meal with them, but they never gave him any money as he just gambled it away.

    Families eh?

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Thanks for all these aunt reminiscences. My mother was one of four sisters who were very close, although so different in many ways that they ended up actively supporting four different political parties.Only the youngest, in her mid-80s, is still alive (two died recently, in their 90s). She still skiis and a few years ago was an extra in the Lord of the Rings, in the Queenstown scene which involved running up and down the hills.

    Their mother was a bit of a liberal who had driven a car around the UK with her sister and father just before the First World War, in a journey her parents hoped would take her mind off the not-quite-good-enough Waimate lawyer she had her eye on (but she returned and married him). She let her daughters climb trees, ride bikes, go to the movies and generally enjoy themselves, until she died of breast cancer when my mother had just started boarding school. So my aunts stuck together, even though they lived in different parts of the world and eventually NZ. When they got together they were an intelligent elegant group.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2096 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.