Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Visiting Auntie E.

We have been away on holiday (thank you for the kind birthday greetings) visiting my aunt in rural Norfolk, who, for reasons I have explained before, lives in this wonderful house.

In short, she and three women friends retired there in 1981 with - crucially - the much younger husband of one of them. Now only my aunt and the much younger husband (not hers) are left. They live fairly separate lives but keep an eye on each other. This is great for her, since she's now 89 and a half. He is, I think, 73, but a very youthful and energetic 73. How good it is for him - I'm not sure. He's a lovely person but we now worry about the burden this may be putting on him - even though my aunt is amazing for 89 and a half. She still gardens every day, drives and otherwise looks after herself - but the chap is always around to help in a crisis and to maintain the fabric of the house. (Couldn't we all do with a much younger husband, not necessarily our own, to perform such functions?)

I think this is the 15th time we've visited - at least every two years since Son was nearly 3. And we feel so privileged: the house is by far the grandest one we've ever known well and the garden is huge and beautiful - about three acres, with an extensive lawn, a small wood, a large walled garden and so on. My aunt has created it in its current form and does much of the maintenance of the flower beds though there are now more weeds than there used to be.

Daughter 2 came down for the weekend from London to brighten the lives of her aged parents and her even more aged great-aunt.

This is the view from one of our bedroom windows...

... and this is the view from the other.

It's paradise. On the other hand, it's a 7 hour drive from here so if there were an emergency, we couldn't get there quickly. And when you're nearly 90, there do tend to be emergencies.

Having coped with both parents and my other aunt through their slow and sad declines, I do worry a lot about what might happen to this (unmarried, childless) aunt. And yet worrying doesn't help and it's hard to plan for an unknown future.

And alas, no: we won't inherit the house! They all agreed to make it over to the much younger husband; which was very sensible.

Every time we visit, I wonder whether it'll be the last time. So far, I'm pleased to say, my aunt appears to be fairly indestructible. She hopes that she eventually falls down dead in the garden and I hope that I do too - in our garden, you understand. I don't want poor old Mr Life to have to drive my stiffening corpse all the way home.


  1. What a beautiful house and garden, the garden especially! No, I don't think I would want to have a dead gardener by my side on a journey lasting several hours......

  2. No indeed. That image is going to stay with me a little while.

  3. You're always so funny. And, like Lucille, and having been in your garden, that unwelcome image might stick with me too. I prefer you to be perpendicular in your garden. Or, if prone, at least breathing.

    It looks like you had a lovely getaway. Isn't it amazing how our children brighten our lives when they return. I remember my parents always wanting us to come home and now I understand why!

  4. Gorgeous house and yes, no point in worrying (I'm a right one to talk but at least our equivalent, Aunty M, lives in the same town as us). As for the last bit, has Mr Life considered buying a roof rack?

  5. I love the way you Brits casually call something a "house" when we Americans would take one look, pass out in the crushed stone driveway, and come awake moaning "please, just get me into the estate foyer, I need a mint julep". House, indeed! I'll say it's a house! 8-)

    P.S. I know what you mean about worrying... my 73 year old mom lives several states away from me, in a house much too large for her, with six animals to care for, and 43 acres of property. She literally drives a tractor to mow the lawn. Talk about waking up at 2AM to worry? Yes, yes, that's me. Not that it does a bit of good.

  6. It certainly is a beautiful house and garden. How lovely to have daughter two with you as well.