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Some people don’t believe in heroes.. but they hadn’t met my Auntie Yvonne

What is family?  I don’t believe family is all about blood and DNA.  Family is about loyalty and love and friendship.  Family is giving with no thought of keeping track of who gave the most.  Family is being there when the chips are down.  Family… Is…..Love!

You epitomised family to me.  I grew up knowing I was named after you and it always made me as proud as punch.  With cars the way they were in the 60’s,  we didn’t always get to see lots of people who lived further away than our town, but every few Sundays it seemed, you would turn up for a visit.  You and Uncle Fred would turn up, usually armed with goodies for us, on the pretext that WE were helping YOU by taking them.  You knew Mum and Dad didn’t have a lot but you would both have cut off your right arms rather than hurt their pride by offering charity.  Instead, you huffed and puffed about the stuff hanging around your place and how you were over it and needed to get rid of it.

When we visited you, it was always an adventure.  We would head up the Princes Highway, and across on the old Williamstown Ferry to cut time off our trip.  I can still feel the thrill of sitting on that ferry as the chains clunked and clanged as they pulled us across the bay .  When we drove off the other end, we knew it wasn’t too far until we saw you both.  You always welcomed us with open arms, but were never mushy or gooey.  Nope, that definitely wasn’t you.  You didn’t need to be.  We knew we were loved by you both.

You were Mum and Dad’s best friends.  Uncle Fred and Dad served together in WWII and those awful years formed a loyal and true friendship that spanned many decades.  They were like brothers.  Dad had a brother Fred, so did Mum, so we had 3 Uncle Fred’s.  We never thought about whether you were blood relations.. It never crossed our minds.  You were family in every way, shape and form.

Mum wasn’t one to make friends easily.  She had friends.  They were drawn to her quiet, sweet nature but she was a homebody who only needed her family.  But you WERE family to her.  She loved you with all her heart and soul.  So did Dad.. No one but you would ever have got away with the things you said to Dad.  When he was being a dick, you told him so.  When he was being childish, you told him so.  You would side with Mum and he didn’t often argue back with you.  I used to think he was a bit scared of you.  Maybe he was.. but  he also loved and admired you as much as the rest of us.

You were a pocket rocket.  You had more energy than anyone I had ever met.  You were this tiny weeny little bundle of energy with grey hair for as long as I knew you.  You looked like butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth and people who didn’t know you, would look at you as if you were a sweet little old lady, and THEN, you’d open your mouth.  I really hadn’t seen many women who smoked, or drank or swore.  I can remember the early years of you with a pipe.  I was fascinated by you.  You broke all the rules that I thought a woman had to live by.  But your heart was bigger than a giant’s.  I don’t know how it fitted into that little body of yours.  You loved with the same intensity as you lived.  You were my hero.

At Dad’s funeral, you were your usual stoic self.. Right up until they played The Last Post and then you broke down.  I can still remember Uncle Fred standing tall and proud beside Dad’s coffin, mourning his brother at heart, while you seemed so much smaller than usual as you wept, not only for Dad but for Mum’s grief too.  By that time you had become my friend as well as my Aunty.

You and Uncle Fred would visit Mum often to make sure she was okay and I would take her up to see you too.  Being the era you all were, you never spoke much about love but you lived it.  The love you all felt for each other was there for all the world to see.  You were loyal, true and wonderful.

When Mum got sick, you would visit her often, sitting beside her bed, ranting and raving over stuff as you often did, with your usual turn of phrase and Mum would end up crying from laughter at the things you said and the colourful way you said them.  She always said, “how can I feel sorry for myself when Yvonne is around?”  You could have sat and held her hand and said everything would be okay but that wasn’t you.  You encouraged her to keep fighting with your passion, humour and acerbic words. You didn’t gush.. You sent out a war cry.  Much more your style.

After Mum and Uncle Fred had both passed away, I also shifted out of state, so didn’t see much of you.  But you were never far from my mind. I was thinking about you yesterday and I think I knew that your spirit was longing to be reunited with your loved ones so you whispered in my ear, saying goodbye in your own unique way.  Today I hear you have gone to be with Uncle Fred, Mum and Dad and all your other loved ones.  No wonder it rained here today.  It was the tears of joy being wept by them all at being reunited once again with you.  I weep tears of sadness.

I was proud to be named after you.  I was always chuffed when Uncle Fred would say that I was named after the right person when I answered his sarcasm with a fair old dose of my own. I was shattered when he passed away as he was a man I not only adored, but trusted and trust has never come easy to me.  Trust, loyalty, friendship… they are words that come straight to mind when I think of you both.

Today I become the remaining Yvonne and I will try to do it proud.  As much as I call myself Livonne, I will never change my name permanently as I have always carried your name with pride.  It was given to me as a gift of love.  Mum and Dad named me after you and you and I had a special bond as a result.  Thank you for that.  Thank you for your love and the loyalty that you showed us as a family.  Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to Mum.  Thank you for always being able to make her laugh.

You will always be a hero to me.  I love you.  Give them all a hug for me!

Happy Hugging……Your namesake.. today not Livvy but Yvonne xxxxx

aunty yvonne, uncle fred, mum & dad