This is one of a series of letters from the public to someone special in their lives.
How do you thank someone who has been such an important and influential person in your life? I am only hoping these words and the sharing of wonderful memories will go some way in conveying my heartfelt gratitude for your love, support and presence.
You were so very good to us as children, offering wonderful holidays in your home in sunny Nelson. We would fly across to you from Wellington in the 1960s in a very noisy DC aeroplane, sucking furiously on sweets, and swallowing hard to stay the tortuous trip of earache. We did not seem to mind because we would be embarking on a big adventure when you picked us up at the airport in your fawn, soft-top Mini.
How we all managed to fit into your car I do not know. Hayley, Jamie, Steve and I piled into the back seat - you were about eight months pregnant with Campbell - and you still seemed to have so much time, energy, and enthusiasm for us kids.
We loved going with you to the fruit and vege stalls that were dotted around Atawhai. Being city kids this was a great amusement for us, as we had never experienced leaving money in an honesty box before. We would all pile into that little car, loaded up to the gunnels with pumpkins bigger than us, huge heads of cabbage and fruit, and sometimes I had the privilege of sitting in the front seat, holding the eggs, very gingerly, that were still warm from the local chook farm.
I do remember how much time you spent cooking and baking for us, and to this day no-one can make a chicken curry like you do. Summer holidays were long and hot. Special treats like hokey pokey icecreams melted and ran down our arms and faces faster than we could eat them.
Your specialty was haircuts. Very short ones at that. You were an Edward Scissorhands with those electric shears. My lovely long pig tails disappeared in flash, to be replaced with a pudding bowl haircut. I did not mind this at all, as I hated spending hours having the knots combed out of my hair. I rather liked looking like a boy for a change.
At age 6, dress-ups were a favorite past-time of mine. Hayley and I would rummage through your frilly nighties and we would spend many hours playing at being a bride, and practising elaborate wedding ceremonies with Steve and Jamie being the reluctant groomsmen, while you filmed us with your 8-millimetre camera.
You encouraged us to toboggan down the hillside of tall dry grass at the back of your property on large pieces of cardboard. You even showed us how to sprinkle the hill lavishly with talcum powder, as that would make us go really fast.
Steve and I also loved the fishing expeditions that you organised, out on your boat with Uncle Ian. The snapper we caught were plentiful, and we had them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They tasted even more delicious because we had caught them.
I admired your adventurous spirit.
At age 70 you travelled to India with me and several others. You were the consummate intrepid traveller, willing to try the bizarre and unusual.
To me, dear Aunty Maur, you will always be known for your love of children. For keeping us entertained for hours with wondrous stories that helped me appreciate the mystery that sits at the heart of life.
For being a very involved mother to your own children, and most favorite aunt to us.
With much love, Your niece
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