Aunt Bet is dead.
It seems incredible that such a vital spark should be extinguished. The world is lesser without her.
It is difficult to choose a particular memory that sums her up; she was too various a character to be tied down to a single experience or response.
Was it her carrying a small sign on trains which she would use if she found the people by whom she was surrounded too boring to talk to, “I am sorry, but I am deaf”; her letter writing which if collected would fill many volumes; her travel - where even the most innocuous of journeys would take on epic proportions when she described them; her omnivorous, rapacious, insatiable reading; her phenomenal memory; her sparkling vivacity; her generosity and, above all, her conversation. It was and is all of these and more, much more.
How can I forget taking my Aunt Bet to my Great Aunt Gwen’s funeral? We talked constantly from Gloucester to Hove and all the way back again. Conversation was life blood for Aunt Bet and her experience and maturity made it vital and engaging.
I shall miss her. Very much.
But a full life like hers deserves to be celebrated, and sadness, though understandable must be tempered by appreciation.
Toni’s response (incredibly but aptly) on hearing the news was, “You must buy a book!” If ever there was a clearer example of pushing at an open door than this then I have never heard of it. The choice in our local bookshops was not as wide as I would have liked but I eventually decided on “1001 Días que cambiaron el mundo” which has just that right mix of variety linked to a dilettante shortness of individual entries that keeps me interested, especially when the language used is not my native tongue!
I have started a tradition that I will enthusiastically keep up for the rest of my life, buying “Betty’s Book” on the 2nd of March each year!
Term is stumbling along to the stutter that is Fiasco Week. We have a meeting on Friday after school (!) then we are off for a long weekend while other colleagues take pupils to all points of the compass, up to and including Wales!
I look forward to the opportunity to get a space to begin reading Betty’s Book.