My Auntie B had a wicked sense of humour. She could ask those probing questions no one else would dare to but in such an endearing way that only an elder relative can; she had that classic trait of telling you exactly what she thought in a way that only she could get away with; and she had a zest for life and an enthusiasm I hope I have when I’m in my 90s (she swore by a daily tipple of port and brandy).
For a long time, and after our own grandparents had passed away, she was the matriarch. She was the hub of the family. She knew what everyone was up to. She kept track of the countless neices and nephews and the even more extensive network of great-neices and nephews. She was the common ground.
And this weekend she is being celebrated. Her wish was for her ashes to be scattered on Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland – she loved Newcastle and my lasting memories of her are with an ice cream on the promenade.
But I like to think this last request was a cheeky nod to the fact that her family were going to have to climb the 2,700 odd feet up the mountain. I can just picture her with that cheeky glint in her eyes thinking about it!
So here’s to you Auntie B. You truly were one of a kind.