I buried an Aunt yesterday. My fathers' sister. Of course there is sadness of a soul passing but she lived to the great age of 97 and still driving until a few months ago. It was more a celebration of a life well lived. She was a tiny woman of the old school, faithful wife and mother who painted landscapes of the area she lived in all her life. In my memory she will remain like a small bird listening on the lawn.
The last uncle and aunt were there looking startled by all the fuss and perhaps wondering how soon the family would gather again to send them off with 'she could make a lovely pavlova' or 'he cleared the land by himself with just an old horse'. How do we want to be remembered? Only by the decent things we've done? Or also those that have made a difference to peoples' lives.
And the cousins. Some I hadn't seen for 30 years. We parried with small talk of children grown and husbands dead while trying to read each others' eyes of affairs and disappointments, of small successes and lives not quite well lived.
But the bonds are strong. We grew up as a big, sprawling, close family and forgive each other small indiscretions and will continue to meet at weddings and funerals.