This week’s writing challenge: Tell us about a character in your life. It could be your best friend, your partner, your child, or even your third grade teacher. With as much detail as possible, make this person real for us. Tell us more than what they look like or how you met. Let us know what their laugh sounds like, or that oddball quirk that makes this person so unique.
She sweeps up the driveway in her red scenic and swings into her favourite parking spot. I’m waiting to greet her. I haven’t seen her for a few years and I’m afraid of what the years may have done to her. No fear. Her face lights up in a warm smile, wrinkling the skin around her eyes and on her cheeks.
“Hello my darling!” Her voice is deep and loving. Sturdy arms reach out to hug me and I hug her back hard. My dearest Aunty Pat is still strong and well. I breathe a sigh of relief and throw myself into an afternoon of catching up, drinking in the faces of my family, especially Aunty Pat.
Today she’s wearing flowing pants and top, gracefully covering her full shape. A long handmade necklace finishes the look. She has always battled to keep her weight down, but I notice that she’s lost some weight. Then, with a little shock, I notice her flat chest. It’s typical of pragmatic Pat, that when she was diagnosed with cancer in one breast, she told them to take both breasts as at her age (78) she didn’t need them.
” So what have you been doing with yourself while I’ve been away?” I ask.
“Well, Muriel (her older sister-in-law) and I have just got back from Cape Town,” she replies. ” I drove and we did the trip over a couple of days, staying overnight in hotels. We stayed with Aunt Felicity in Cape Town for a week and had a whale of a time!” She chuckles at the memories of that trip. I am amazed. I would hesitate to drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town, but Aunty Pat does it without batting an eyelid! That’s so typical of her! Nothing phases her!
She’s the rock of the family, the glue that keeps them together. She doesn’t interfere, but she’s always there when any of her four children, their spouses and her grandchildren need a sympathetic ear. She adores all of them equally and worries over the future of each of them.
She is so many things – a mother, a teacher, a friend, an artist. I have one of her paintings, a basket of flowers on a paved patio, done in oil, in pride of place on my bedroom wall. I remember when my uncle died, she painted a landscape with my him in it. When she passes, she told me, her daughter Jenny will paint her into the picture next to him. Her love for him was deep and true, standing the test of time and many trials, the worst being his death from cancer.
I look at her again, memorize the sparkling eyes, her soft, white hair in a short bob cut. Her face is soft to the touch as well, making you want to touch and stroke her cheek. She laughs again, a warm chuckle. I see the way my cousins look at her, adoration and indulgence in their eyes.
A whirlwind rushes into the room with long legs and flowing blond hair. “Grannyyyyy!” Aunty Pat opens her arms wide to hug her, beaming and chuckling.
“Hello my sweetheart,” she murmurs,and another grandchild basks in her love.