On the 1st of December 2017, our family lost someone very special to us. Our Mother's close friend of over 50 years and surrogate Aunt to my Sister Donna and I, we called her Aunty Mal.
Never a fan of her given name Marilyn, those close to her always called her Mal. She grew up on the Northern Beaches of NSW just like our Mum and they met when they were young adults. It was a friendship that would last their entire lives, regardless of distance, no matter what was happening in their individual lives. They were always there for each other when times were tough.
Aunty Mal lived in various places throughout the years.. from the Central Coast of NSW and Bidwill in the Western Suburbs of Sydney when her kids were young, to Dalton in NSW (the earthquake capital of Australia), to iluka on the North Coast of NSW. Our family visited and occasionally stayed with her in each of these places and a couple of times in her life, Aunty Mal even lived with us. Most notoriously in a caravan out the front during my teen years. Mal was not related by blood but she was closer to us kids than any of our Mum's siblings.
Knowing Mal is a lesson in true friendship. At the toughest times in our lives, she was there for us. Anytime something big was happening, she would drop whatever she was doing and come to us and we appreciated it more than she will ever know. Our Mum Emily meant the world to Aunty Mal and she meant the world to our Mum too. They may not speak for months at a time but when they did catch up, nothing had changed between them. It was like they had spoken the day before.
When we lost our Mum in April to a stroke, Aunty Mal was living in a nursing home on the Central Coast and her health was not so great. Mum had seen Aunty Mal last in 2016 when we took her up for Mal's 70th Birthday party in October - at the time Mum had been on oxygen for several years and Mal had also been put on oxygen. By April, Mal was no longer able to travel any real distance and she was heartbroken not to be able to come be with us at this time, but we understood, we knew losing Mum would have been heartbreaking for her as well. We know in the months that followed she missed Mum every day.
We visited with Aunty Mal during those following months and talked about old times when she lived with us and about various times we visited her in the different places we lived. Really, she felt like our closest connection to Mum and we really treasure those times.
In mid November Aunty Mal phoned and let us know the she had cancer. She explained they couldn't even really give her any kind of life expectancy as it was aggressive. We visited her on the 19th of November for what turned out to be the last time we would see her, it was a special visit, we think she knew it would be the last time she saw us. She said she would be happy to see our Mum again and had come to terms with the fact that she is dying.
None of us truly know what happens after we die but we choose to believe they are together again. Thank you for being such a special part of our lives Aunty Mal, Rest in Peace and give Mum a big hug for us xx