Eulogy for Aunty

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mat james
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Eulogy for Aunty

Post by mat james » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:34 am

Eulogy For Aunty

What is it that makes a “good life”?

Does one “have” a good life?
Or does one “lead” a good life?

In Estelle’s case, I believe she led a good life.
And like most lives, she had her share of sadness.
She loved children but she had none of her own.
She looked after her nieces and nephews
And the one whom she loved most, Robert
Died shortly after his 21st birthday
And this was by far the saddest day of her long, generous life.
Her brother and sister struggled with health issues and each died too young.
Her husband was damaged by the War
Devastated by the loss of so many good friends
That he turned to alcohol
He felt guilty for not dying with them and was sometimes deeply depressed
And it was Aunty who bore the brunt of that depression and in doing so,
Gave that damaged life of his
Love and meaning.

Auntie did not have a “good” life!
But she did “lead” a good life and it is the good life she led
We are all here to celebrate.

Estelle was the first-borne of 3 children to Eve and Jack.
Jack was a 6ft 3in quiet, slim, calm and gentle man.
Eve was a 5ft rotund bundle of fire, noise and good humor.
Estelle loved her parents and her two younger siblings, Kevin and Carol.
And being the eldest, she got in the habit of helping out.
She was fiercely loyal;
Some outside the family might have thought her biased
But it wasn’t bias: It was Love.
Estelle simply Loved family
First her siblings
Then her husband and all his family
And her brother and sister and all their family.

As I said; she was not blessed with children
So she had nieces and nephews instead; tons of them
And to all she was simply, Auntie.
Auntie was always baby-sitting one crowd or another
And my good mate Robert and I spent many times holidaying at Aunty’s.

All other aunties had names like
Auntie Jess, Auntie Carol, Auntie Audrey and so on
But there was only one whom we simply called Auntie.
She was the pattern, the template that all other aunties were measured against
And, of course, not one compared favorably, for me, to her perfect design.
I loved Aunty because she loved me.
It is pretty simple really; I just knew she would be there
If I needed her.
She was a Roman Catholic to the core
And her faith gave her a profound strength,
an inner knowing that went beyond shallow lip-service
God was very important to this woman
(And I thank Father Antony for the Mass today)
Though she rarely, if ever, mentioned him.
She was not the sort to talk about God and Love,
She simply was Love; Christ-like charitable Love.
For both Bob’s extended family and her own family
She was the last line of defense,
The Rock, the Anchor, the Mother hen
The welcome shore in stormy seas
She was, from my childhood; my hero.
Aunty was always picking up the pieces and repairing damaged lives.
Most of us know the varying circumstances of the various families;
And we all knew back then that if anyone needed help,
Auntie would be there.
She was my security, my rock, that last line of defense;
All else might crumble; but not Aunty.
If all else failed; and sometimes it did
I knew she would give me shelter from that storm.
It is difficult to convey what strength that gave me, deep within;

I remember as a small child thinking these very thoughts
“I can always go to Aunty; Aunty will look after me,
Aunty will be there, if I need her.
And I am pleased to say that I thanked her when I grew up, several times.

She did her best to nurture all her nieces and nephews, who needed it.
She encouraged us all; she assisted emotionally and financially.
Like Bob, she was “Magnificent in defense”.

In later life,
She had a smile that emanated joy when she spoke of our childhood episodes.
She remembered the details; All the details.
Only a few years ago she recounted Robert and my
Horse Shoe Bay fishing fiasco;
Her precious mother’s knife, lost,
By two little boys on a fishing adventure to the jetty
And our (as she put it) profound question
As we stalked the back door:
“Aunty… Is something lost if you know where it is”?

She had a sad, quiet sigh that emanated melancholic love when she spoke of those who had passed on.
I found her extremely unselfish. She helped all who she thought needed it
Yet never once did I hear her ask for anything. Not once!
She was all give.
Some might say that she needed to give. But I never saw that need;
I only saw compassion.

I continually said to my own children
“I only have two heroes;
Mohammad Ali and Auntie Estelle;”
Ali; because he fought for his people
And Aunty because she fought for her family.
To me, they were both champs.

And Bob was always there backing her up.
It is pointless talking much about Estelle without including Bob.
It was always “Aunty and Unc.”
Bob, Unc. was “her” hero, her rock, her great ally in Life.
He was a tough, resilient country boy. (in pain)
The Mighty German Army under Irwin Rommel had not lost a battle
until they met Bob and his mates at El Alamein in 1942.
Rommel, who was noted for his ferocious “Blitzkrieg” attacks, defined the Australian soldiers as “…magnificent in defence.”
His first defeat.
Aunty and Uncle both were “magnificent in defense”
of country and family;
and now she has moved on...

...and I hear her echoing
"Is something lost, dear, if you know where it is?".

"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by Cate » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:19 pm

“Magnificent in defense”

Mat that was a wonderful eulogy. Thank you for sharing it with us,
your Aunt sounds like she was a strong and loving woman, a good woman.

My best to you and your family,
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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by carm » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:40 pm

Mat, what a touching testimony to the spirit of love your Auntie Estelle so freely endowed, giving each of you so many reasons to smile. It is wonderful that you carry such cherished memories of her as expressed in your eulogy. May you always find comfort in each fond remembrance. Love is its own perennial fount of strength. The strength of our affection towards a loved one is proof not of their individual worthiness, but of the largeness of the soul that has loved us. Love’s song has ended, but its melody will surely prevail.

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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by Alsiony » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:33 pm

Hey Mat,

I think that Cate pretty much summed up my response too.
Thankyou for sharing it here, it is very special indeed.

Weybridge MBW 11th July 2009

'All I know - and you must listen very carefully to this... All I know - is that I know absolutely nothing' - Frank

'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?' - Christopher Marlowe

Much misunderstood... was the 'Hippie' with a reality fixation...
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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by abby » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:58 pm

What a pleasure to come across this. I just read it out loud to myself, but I wish I could've heard your voice. So beautiful, Mat- thank you for posting it here.
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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by Diane » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:55 pm

Abby if I see you, I click on you to read your signature:-) Which is fortuitous because yes, Mat, this is a wonderful tribute.
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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by abby » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:39 pm

I'm so glad somebody else likes it, Diane. But that doesn't mean I'm good at it ; )
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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by imaginary friend » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:59 am

All else might crumble; but not Aunty.
What a splendid tribute, Mat. I remember how I enjoyed your 'Is Something Lost...' poem. Thanks for sharing Aunty's kindness and spiritedness.

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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by Violet » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:37 pm

Hi Mat.. it's beautiful that you had an Aunty such as this, and that you can now recount all that she's meant to you with such love and sincerity..
v. x
Last edited by Violet on Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eulogy for Aunty

Post by Diane » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:06 pm

abby wrote:I'm so glad somebody else likes it, Diane. But that doesn't mean I'm good at it ; )
Me neither, but it's always good to get the reminder. Chodron is an excellent writer - thanks for introducing me to her.
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