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My Mum is from a huge family, she was no 11 of 13 and a lot of her sisters lived fairly close. My Auntie Kathleen and her husband Martin were always a wonderful sanctuary for me and I used to spend quite a lot of time with them, with my Mum and without.
I didn't really have many positive male role models around, but my Uncle Martin was the best man I've ever known. He was a quite, gentle man but strong in his convictions and values. I was always really happy to spend time with him and he always treated me like a person not as a nuisance. My Auntie Kathleen taught me to bake and always made a place for me in her home.
The picture above is me with them at one of their favourite places, along the river Thames near Sunbury. We often went for a walk down there.
Unfortunately, Uncle Martin came down with bowel cancer and died when I was 17 and he was in his early 60's. He was the first significant person to die in my life and I still miss him dreadfully. Auntie Kathleen carried on and never had any major illnesses until a few months ago when she had a stroke. She hadn't been able to talk, eat or really walk since.
Today, she was buried in the same grave as Uncle Martin and for the first time in 23 years they are together again.