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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

6 days till christmas

tonight i arrived home to a parcel behind my door. not so unusual you would think at this time of year. when i saw my aunts writing on the package, i knew exactly what it contained. my mum is one of seven. last month we had a family reunion of her side of the family. i have yet to write about it here (i promise pam, i will, soon). i say mum is one of seven, yet only six remain, her sister Elma having died young. over the weekend i asked my mum's eldest sister if she would do a family tree for us. she agreed and as a large sheet of paper was rolled out and the family tree commenced all siblings gathered round to talk not just names but dates of births and ages too. stories came out. tears were shed. healing tears. comforting words were spoken. honest words. as my mothers daughter it was an honour to witness the exchanges between siblings; to be allowed to be a fly on the wall of a conversation about things that had happened long before you were a twinkle in your parents eye, that's something that doesn't happen everyday. 

i was told by my father that he had always wanted a little girl and he wanted to call her emma jane. to my father; i had no middle name. to my mother she always insisted that my first name was emma my middle name jane. i found out why at the reunion weekend. as far as my mum is concerned; she called me emma after her sister elma; explaining that she felt it was too much for my grandma if she called me elma. (i remember my mum telling the story of how when i was a teenager staying at my grandparents she had found my grandma crying at the bottom of the stair after calling me down for dinner - she had inadvertently called me elma - that was the time my mum expressed her concern that she might have got it wrong calling me emma; she was concerned her tribute was too much for her mother to bear). during the sharing of stories my auntie told us she had elma's compact. it was the only thing that my grandma had of elmas after she died. it had her initial on it and i was told she would send it to me as not only was i the only member of the family whose name began with e but it was fitting as i was named after her. 

this is what arrived tonight.

i do not mind admitting that i am overwhelmed by the gesture. it is beautiful and i am somewhat taken aback that i now have something that was an aunts i never knew, a much loved sisters possession and something that my grandmother cherished. i am now a custodian of one of my family's treasured heirlooms. there were tears and grateful thanks offered. i will treasure it and one day pass it down the line to continue to keep her memory alive.


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