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Aunt Christine


If ever there was a woman who could melt you with a stern glare of mock reproach and then immediately win your heart with a grinning smile, it was my Aunt Chris. She loved to tease kids and knew exactly how to do it.

She was fucking awesome at it.

She passed away not so long ago, finally ending her battle with cancer. She was so strong a character, such a tough and formidable woman that her shadow looms large and her family can continue to live in the protective shelter of her shadow’s gentle shade for all the complicated years ahead. She was a one woman factory churning out love and kindness, she loved all children very much, like an instinct for holding them and having long conversations with babies could overwhelm her.

Once bathed in her love, it was a time-stopping kind of power she had, affection was a form of communication she understood so natively, she could play with it like a grandmaster so that her merciless teasing was also impossible to misunderstand. She loved so much, was so demonstrative of that affection, she could say a rather terrible sounding thing in jest and make it all feel rather healing. That is a true skill, it is like she had a fifth-dan black-belt in affectionate teasing.

I have not found its like anywhere.

She was the best at getting you to laugh at yourself, to enjoy that, to revel in the silliness of life. She could make calamity disappear sometimes. She could do that with a single line, a knowing smile. Even as I became an adult she could bring out my inner 14 year old with a single winking smile or a clever, witty-as-fuck remark.

So the world has lost a giant and warm spirit who did far more good than she ever did harm, who gave far more love than she ever asked back and who could stride between adult and childhood worlds frictionlessly. A fierce and independent woman who knew her own mind, she would never retreat from a clash of different opinions. She was always able to state her case with real passion, sweeping conviction, she was articulate, funny as hell, she loved her family, she loved her children. What Chris was just so damned good at was laughing, bringing more laughter into the world – a process of deploying perceptive wit, tremendous personal charm. Her infectious sense of joy could burst into life from nowhere and shower a room, filling it with levity and cheer.

Her often booming voice, huge passion, her lightning fast comebacks and her ever firm opinions made for a truly daunting and powerful combination. I would describe her as dazzling, fearsome when necessary.

She was also cavalier in her approach to life and seemed to me to be one of the most fearless and self-assured people ever to have lived. We all have our doubts, we all have our introspective side and we all fall quiet when we have little enough to say, she could be all these things as well of course but what stands out, what towers over all other features of her remarkable character was her boundless capacity for love and the fierce places that led her in life. A defender of the small she was also counsel, friend and surrogate mother to all children who got close enough to cuddle.

She was a magnificent woman with four lovely children of her own in whom she justifiably felt such enormous pride. Her four children, Tan, Deb, Lou and Dan, her brother Alan and her sister-in-law Pauline will know better than any just how great a force of natural wonders Christine was and just how vast is our collective loss.

My wonderful auntie Chris has passed away and the world feels so much the smaller, it is a less interesting planet than it once was, it is fundamentally less warm, less honest, less decent, less loving, less tender, less giving, less caring, there is less personal integrity and less boldness because a great woman who lived and seemingly breathed fire into the Sun, she has passed on. We few who had the privilege of knowing her at all were so bathed in her warm smiles and free-flowing laughter that it was sometimes easy to forget that she was the source of so much of the light and beauty in any room.

With her passing, that great source of love will be forever missed. It was her gift to us that endures though, her amazing light and beauty are still so easy to reach out and touch. We can look inside ourselves, those of us who felt the joy of being bathed in her love, and though it comes with the falling of some tears and a sense of yearning and heartache, we can find inside us all the love she placed there so permanently. That is a gift she gave over and over, a lot of children fell under her effortless spell. Her influence is something which we carry forward as a legion, her influence will be subtle yet profound since it will endure for generations.

So like a privileged few, I carry a small part of her giant spirit with me everywhere I go and if I need to find her to tell her I love her and miss her, all I must ever do is look into my own heart and she’s always there.

(I love you Auntie Chris and I will miss you.)

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