Her name was Barb.
And she had what was called an “ironing room”.
As a child I assumed the room was full of ironing boards and irons, ready and waiting for any ironing to come their way. For all I knew, there were people in there, ironing for Aunty Barb. Around the clock.
We were never allowed in the ironing room. So I decided Aunty Barb had a kindly ironing woman or two locked away in the ironing room. Ironing.
The year I had the twins, she confessed to me that the ironing room was, in fact, a room full of baskets of clothes she couldn’t be bothered ironing until she absolutely needed them.
She told me she highly recommended one should have an ironing room. Full of unironed, unfolded baskets of washing.
Aunty Barb insisted we call her Aunty. Because she was our Aunty and that was that.
She chastised me profusely when we announced we were calling our daughter “Rory”.
“You do realise I will never be able to say her name properly!?” she joked – but meant entirely.
Aunty Barb’s r’s came out as w’s.
But she loved Waw-wee. And she loved me for having her and naming her Waw-wee.
She loved that I didn’t pretend to be perfect.
She loved me for not being perfect.
And really, in this life, how many of us can say we have people who love us not despite our flaws, but because of them?
Who love us not for who they think we are, nor who they want us to be?
Who don’t love us because we meet their expectations, but because we throw anyone’s expectations in their faces. Because seriously, who is anyone to expect another person to be anything more or less than they truly are?
If you say you have more than a handful of those people, you are a liar.
Which is a complete and utter fucking shame.
Because we should all have more than a handful of people who love us.
Because of our ironing rooms. And our filthy floors. And our inability to pronounce letters and words correctly.
Our addictions to crosswords. Our webbed toes. Our too-loud laugh.
Our over-enthusiasm. For everything. All the time. Which can often lead to the overuse of punctuation!!!!
Aunty Barb loved me because I am too loud. Because my floors are dirty. Because my kids are wild.
Aunty Barb loved me because I refuse to accept anything less than what I feel we (the all-encompassing we of humankind) are due in life.
Respect. Honesty. Love.
Aunty Barb loved me because when she rang, she would ask if I were busy, or if it was a bad time with the children and I would honestly tell her:
“Yes, but if you wait for a good time we’ll never get to talk.”
Or the children would be screaming, and she would ask me: “Do you need to go?”
And I would say: “No, I’ll just lock myself in another room so we don’t have to listen to them!”
She loved me for all those things because they are all a part of me.
And I will always love her because she taught me what a beautiful thing that kind of love can be.