Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Love of History - an 8 year old's thanks. RIP Auntie Elinor.

It's been a sad week.

My mother's sister, my Auntie Elinor passed away peacefully last Saturday aged just 67. She had battled ill-health all of her life but recent years had been particularly difficult for her.

Yesterday, the family and the community of Eglwyswrw gathered at my maternal family's Bethabara Chapel in Pontyglasier to pay our final respects. Along with my 3 elder brothers, I was one of the pall-bearers. It was a role I have never undertaken before and it was particularly sad as we took her coffin in the cemetary after the service, past those of her mother and father (my grandparents), her brother-in-law (my father) and her grandparents (my great-grandparents). She is now at rest from this world, placed immediately behind the final resting place of her Uncle (my great-Uncle) Sidney.

The bilignual service was led very respectfully by the relatively new Minister Roger Morgan. In it, he relayed many fond memories that we as a family have of her and which will remain. He also read out a lovely message from the Irish country and western singer Paddy O'Brien, of whom Auntie Elinor was a big fan. Indeed, she was a member of his fan club and had met him in Ireland on a coach trip there when she was in better health in the 1990s. I e-mailed him on the Friday, notifying him of the sad news and thanking him for bringing her happiness and enjoyment throughout the years. To my pleasant surprise, from his home in County Cork, he replied within a matter of hours with this message. It was read out at the service yesterday.
I'm so so sorry to hear that Auntie Elinor has passed away. It's very humbling to know that she got so much enjoyment from my songs and indeed without people like Elinor I could not have made a career in music. She is now in a wonderful place from where she will look after all of you in very special ways. I feel privileged to have known her and just by knowing her has been a wonderful help to me along the pathway of life. May her gentle soul rest in peace. You are all in my thoughts and prayers at this very sad time. God Bless you always
Yours in Sympathy
It was the least I could do for Auntie Elinor as it was she who helped me to realise a love of history which has extended through to an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in the subject in University.

I was only 7 or 8 years old when by pure chance, I bought a pack of playing cards whilst on a particularly wet holiday with my parents. But they weren't playing cards. To my annoyance, they were information cards about the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. It however clearly triggered something inside of me which I had not known existed because I soon came to enjoy devouring the small pieces of information that were now before me.

On the back of this sudden and unexpected new interest, Auntie Elinor bought for me as a Christmas present in 1990, my first proper history book. She perfectly bought me a book about these same Kings and Queens and it gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore in more detail what I gleened from those information cards.

I still have that book and a photo of it, and the inscription that I wrote inside it at the time, can be seen in this blog post. I treasure this book simply because it was the one that began and inspired in me a wider love of history. I am particularly thankful to Auntie Elinor for introducing me properly to this subject matter which has become one of my greatest loves.

She is now at peace and I hope that she's now playing that piano-accordion to her parents and all of our family and friends who are up above.

Cysga'n dawel Auntie Elinor.

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