Memories Abound in the Retirement Home

It’s strange how the vivid memory of a long-forgotten place or event is suddenly generated for no particular reason at any place or at any time.

I thought about my Aunt Mary this morning, the first time in years. What triggered it? The year was 1956 and I was on holiday at the seaside after my qualifying year at the university. I had driven down with a friend who had a car which he said I could use if I needed it. I was having a wild time, free of studying at last and totally unaware of what was to come. The most important items on my personal agenda were probably girls and beer.

One evening I was walking along in search of either of the above when I bumped into Auntie Mary. She was my grandmother’s younger sister and must have been around seventy, in those days and in my eyes, an old woman. I liked her. She told me that her holiday was at an end and she was going home the next day.

“How are you traveling?” I asked.

“By train,” she answered.

“I’ll take you to the station,” I offered.

She resisted for a while telling me how unnecessary it was but finally gave in.

“4 o’clock sharp,” she said, “and don’t be late!”

“Okay, Auntie,” I promised.

Of course I was late. I was known for always being late. Once I had Auntie and her luggage in the car I drove fast. We zoomed along, she with one eye on the road and the on her watch.

“Make this thing go!” she yelled, “I’m going to miss my train!”

I pushed the gas pedal to the floor and she said, “come on, drive, drive faster, as fast as this car can go!”

We made it. We had a good laugh over that day remained good friends. She never asked me to take her anywhere after that.

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