Not wanting to cause insult or offence, I’ve been giving considerable thought to exactly how to describe my auntie.
It would be incorrect to say she’s crazy, she’s not! However, neither is she what you would call normal either. So, just like me, let’s call her unusual, as all of the ‘Nairne’ clan have been unusual.
If she had been normal, my uncle Roland who beyond a shadow of a doubt was extremely unusual wouldn’t have married her. Although extremely unusual, at the same time he was a wonderfully eccentric gentleman who was loved and admired by everyone.
Roland and Joyce, my auntie, were always good to me in so many ways. Being a strange child they nurtured and encouraged my eccentricities and accepted what most people would call unusual as just another or alternative way of doing things, and I appreciated them for their understanding and support. In those difficult times which were my teenage years and early twenties. They constantly introduced me to a far wider horizon of opportunity and ways of thinking. They suggested reading matter and introduced me to many of the finer things in life including alcohol, as well as a scattering of extremely unusual folk.
We have always been close, and after the passing of my lovely uncle, my auntie headed north to live close to her equally crazy younger sister. While I moved in completely the opposite direction, and towards the beach in the south-west. At that time, I estimate that Joyce, without asking was in her late 60s and we kept in touch. Then, dementia halted the daily and sometimes due to his terrible disease (many times daily) phone calls between my father and my aunt.
Around this time I considered it both my duty and privilege to take over the twice or three-time weekly phone calls, and this went on for some years. Joyce, presumably not being satisfied with our level and intensity of communication, quite selfishly took it upon herself to have a heart attack. Later she had a severe tumble which broke her arm and knocked her front teeth out. I didn’t think she doing this just to get attention?
I started calling her most days, but then I retired and turned my attention to full-time writing for entertainment purposes and the conversations between us became so much more enjoyable. Auntie Joyce is a prolific reader and so she loved hearing about what I was writing, and of course, wanted to read it for herself.
I had a couple of choices, I could either print it out on my old ink-jet which I could only describe as constantly thirsty with a strong addiction for approximately £40 of ink cartridges each and every month. It seemed that every time I wanted to print something new, ink cartridges had to be first purchased. Much of this may have been due to the Dragon Lady, who at the time was doing a university degree.
Not only was it a really expensive printer, but it was also difficult to use and constantly needed attention before it would print.
Joyce, who still chose to live in the dark ages, unfortunately, did not have access to the Internet. If she had, everything would have been so much simpler. I wasn’t sure if she even had a radio or TV! Fortunately, Deirdre, her younger sister did have access, so, I would email over my latest story for her to print out and deliver to Joyce. However, I write a LOT, a minimum of 8,000 to 10,000 words a week, often much more, and the cost of printing that much out every week was not cheap. Especially on my old inky which suddenly chose to cease costing me £40a month in ink, by dying suddenly and completely.
I replaced it with an inexpensive laserjet. Not as I had much choice as during lock-down suddenly printers became very much more expensive due to the laws of supply and demand. They became as rare as gold plated frog-spawn and I grabbed the only printer which was in stock. I was delighted with my new both sided extremely fast and simple to use printer. Armed with my new HP (Hewlett-Packard) I printed copies of my latest ramblings for my miniature aunties approval.
This however still wasn’t without problems, as I live in a sparsely populated village that sits on a beach, and I never did go out that much, and since C19, even less. So I had to wait until one of my lovely family offered to go to the post office on my behalf. It would have been so much easier if Joyce had the Internet, but she didn’t, and however much I encouraged and tempted her she resisted.
This was becoming a worry because I was planning to spend the winter in our second beach-side home in Cebu in the sunny Philippines, and was worried about how to keep in contact with her. I’d needn’t have worried, due to C19 the trip didn’t happen. Every day I would call auntie Joyce and we would have entertaining little chats.
Then, to my extreme surprise, Joyce announced that she had acquired an email address, I couldn’t be more delighted. Apparently, an iPad had materialised which she was now learning how to use – EXCELLENT!
“Put Facebook on it I encouraged, and then we can speak from anywhere in the world and even use video chat.”
This suggestion, for a strange auntie, was simply too much too soon, and she told me in no certain terms that she wouldn’t be rushed. I knew better than to try.
We connected by email, and it was a good beginning. As well as phone calls we started to email each other regularly which is great as on some days, today being a good example, I have been just too busy since 6 am, and now it’s nearly 7 pm and I’ve hardly stopped. Today, it was Joyce who took the initiative and emailed me and I replied to her without chatting. I am happy and contented because I know she is well, and I think she feels the same way.
I have also baited her into taking the next step by sharing interesting points about my articles or latest blog post and then leaving a hyperlink to it, or even to one of my latest unfolding stories which I conveniently leave in my drop-box and provide links to.
Being extra sneaky, and using tracking software I know that she is becoming adventurous and follows these links, and I’m delighted.
I’m just wondering what she’ll think of my description of her when she reads this blog post?