In memory of Uncle Eian and Aunty Lorna

Uncle Eian and Aunty Lorna

I wrote this story back at high school, and recently came across it sorting through my glory box whilst moving house. We were grateful to be able to share it at Uncle Eian’s funeral recently – it captures special memories for our extended family.

We ran across the rickety bridge, in anticipation of what was of the other side. Growing up as a city girl, I wasn’t used to the squishy cow dung beneath every second step I took, nor the mosquitoes forcing me to stop to scratch my leg every minute. ‘Wait up, Mark’, I called to my oldest cousin, who usually looked after me. Spinning around on his gumbooted foot, he sighed and ran to pick me up. ‘C’mon!’, he said, with a bit too much laughter in his voice. He was one to play many jokes on others. I vowed to get him back one day. ‘Oh… you’re going in the river!’

‘Aahh, Mark stop it,’ I cried, kicking my legs to try and get free. But he was a true farm boy, way too strong for my ten year old legs. ‘Muuuuum’, I cried, needing someone to rescue me from his strong grip.

‘Dinner’s up, kids’, Aunty Lorna called to us from the tent. ‘Mark, put her down. You know you can’t go on behaving like that, she’s only little’, my favourite Aunty said as she ran across the bridge in her farming slacks, pot in one hand, spoon in the other. Always obeying his mother, he dropped me to the paddock ground, running off to make sure he was first up for food, leaving Aunty Lorna and I in fits of laughter. We headed back towards the old yellow house, with the big oak tree standing tall beside it. I wanted to swing on it, but now there were more important things to take care of, because in fifteen minutes we’d all be sitting around the bonfire, letting off firecrackers and signing our names in the air with pretty orange and yellow sparklers. It was my favourite time of the year.

We ate chips, quiche, meringues with dollops of cream smothering them, pies, pastries and fruit. Aunty Lorna always had some homemade fruit juice and cookies out for us. Scoffing the food down under the cover of two huge tarpaulins, we talked about how good it was to catch up, what we were doing now, and general family conversation. But the real excitement was yet to come. The faded blue sky turned into a magical peach shade, and the coat of dusk was spread upon the farm, as far as we could see. Everyone watched with excitement as Mark, Sarah, Gregory and I ran across the paddock once more, towards Uncle Eian, who was about to light the bonfire. Us four kids always got to throw the scarecrow on; it was family tradition. I saw my Aunty’s face light up with happiness, as her eyes sparkled in the final glimpse of the day’s November sun. We all cheered at the sight of the bonfire lighting up the night.

The raging hay stack, alight with golden orange embers was a sight worth seeing. The fireworks were a manifold of colours, and the pure black background added to the brightness of it all. I lay back on the damp ground. This time it didn’t bother me. The fireworks took me away, and I hoped this tradition on Guy Fawke’s night could go on forever.

‘It’s finished, we better go so we don’t get stuck in traffic’. The fireworks display at the park always reminded me of when I was younger, and each November we’d go to the country to watch the most spectacular display of fireworks, the one at Aunty Lorna and Uncle Eian’s.

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