My Aunt Mary passed away on Monday.
Well, in reality, Mary Emblin wasn't actually an aunt, but a dear friend of my family. And Mary and her husband Ernie, that wonderful example of how a married couple can be sole mates and best friends, have always been Aunt Mary and Uncle Ernie to me.
Aunt Mary was a very special lady -- a classy and refined woman who was kind and gentle and loving, but above all, loved to laugh. She had a wonderful sense of humour and I'll never forget her penchant for telling a good story, usually one that would inspire laughter.
Among the stories I loved to listen to her tell (and I never tired of hearing her tell them over the years, not with the particular style she delivered stories -- they always had a way of seeming fresh or offering something new with each retelling) were when I spent several days with Aunt Mary and Uncle Ernie while still very young and my parents were in Toronto for a funeral of another dear friend.
Aunt Mary and Uncle Ernie had two girls -- Wendy and Patty -- and all of the grandchildren they loved and talked about so much are also girls, so looking after me for a week was the closest they came to raising a boy. But what fun we had.
I'm sad to say I have virtually no memory of this time except perhaps for fleeting moments that I can capture in my mind, so it was always fun to listen to Aunt Mary and Uncle Ernie tell stories about the time I spent with them and how . . .
. . . they taught me to throw stones (The goal was to pitch the stones at the garage door -- it took me a while to get the hang of it because I ended up spinning around on my first few attempts and winging Uncle Ernie in the process)
. . . they taught me how to splash in the tub. (Until Aunt Mary taught me the joys of splashing in the water I just sat in the bathtub like a stone -- of course, once she instructed me in the fine art of bath water manipulation she never enjoyed another dry moment during bath time when I was supposed to be the only one getting wet)
. . . they taught me how to drink out of a straw (and gained such a fascination for it that I wanted every drink in that manner for quite a while)
. . . they never stopped loving me like like the son they never had (and of course, that feeling has been mutual all these years)
So, goodbye Aunt Mary. I'll always cherish the special memories, the fun stories and the special love you shared.