It was the best thing to happen in my brief life.
My uncle and aunt lived in suburban Auckland with their three sons. I was about a year younger than the youngest cousin. Reflecting now, I’m not sure that my cousins viewed my arrival as the wonderful event that I experienced. Surely I unbalanced their happy home? To me, though, it was bliss. My aunt enrolled me in the local primary school, which I attended with my cousins. I adored her. She cheerfully assisted at the school. I especially recall days when she would attend to make lunches that the pupils could buy. They were a simpler time, with Vegemite and potato chip sandwiches and little boxes of sultanas. School lunch day was a treat anyway, but observing my aunt mixing with the other mothers made me feel irrationally content. At home, she would sew, knit and cook. She would make me dresses and we would venture out to purchase the fabric and trim, often making a similar dress for my dolls. My cousins and I would play outside. Their large backyard was a paradise for small children. The boys were partial to games of cowboys and Indians. To this day my eldest cousin and I think of each other as brother
They are memories of apple pies and laughter, sunshine and love.
My father returned to New Zealand and reunited our family. My mother and her sister
were not close, and we rarely visited the family that I loved. I experienced a profound
sadness that never left me, wondering how my life would have been different if I’d been
able to remain with them.
I renewed my relationship with my aunt and her family when I dated my husband and we
discovered he knew their family well. As a couple, we relished the opportunity to spend
time with them. My aunt embroidered and sewed a beautiful layette for my daughter when
she was born.
Many years later, she was diagnosed with leukaemia. Knowing her time was limited, we
scraped together the airfare so I could return to visit with her. The time we spent helped
me to understand the family dilemma surrounding the situation with our family. While my
head understood this decision, my heart always wonders what my life would have been if
only I’d stayed with them.