My childhood was filled with aunties. Auntie Jill, (a true aunt in the biological sense), Auntie Beryl, Auntie Maureen, Auntie Bernie, Auntie Eileen – non-biological Aunts. Aunties ever-present in my parent’s social circles who dipped and swooped through our boyhood lives always gracious and caring and never scolding nor chastising. Our English Aunts to Mandarin Ayi, French Tante, Italian Zia, Spanish Tia, Polish Ciotka, Romanian Mătuşă, Russian Tёtка, Turkish Yenge. These wonderful women, favorite beings and fascinating personages. Each one, parent approved. I have often believed that the measure of the true sentiment of parent’s feelings of friendship is best viewed through the attitude of their children who silently observe, and witness, and listen, unable to discern discretion and social politeness. The truth from the mouths of babes.
Ever asked, “Do you know anyone in Arizona?” as if that were the only barrier against ill fortune in unchartered realms, my response was always, “Well, I have my Auntie Eileen, in Prescott Valley except I haven’t seen her since I was ten“. A woman attached in my memory as firmly as Zambesi mud to Zimbabwe tires. A woman with a husband as handsome as she was striking. A woman of impeccable 50s and 60s fashion, perfect hair and painted eye lids, simply butterfly wings to a fascinated and observing child. And she drove a stylish Vauxhall Cresta car to boot.
No travel South through Kingman and Selligman could ignore Prescott, (pronounced “Prescuit” like biscuit), and Prescott Valley so it was the perfect “invite myself to come for tea” entre’. Except, I was truly expecting a cup-of-tea and a hows-by-you and not the old world, ex-Rhodesian hospitality. Expecting to be in Phoenix Sunday night, I wasn’t able to reason an escape before Tuesday late morning. (I was wondering if a ransom note had been delivered!) Instantly familiar despite the decades; that certain smile and those wonderful eyes, I felt at home and welcomed as such by her son, (my parent’s god-child), and his wife who “only does hugs“. Instant, easy conversations requiring no past and prior explanation.
Somethings don’t change even though geography does. “You can take the girl out of the bush, but not the bush out of the girl” witnessed as my Auntie Eileen snatched up her pellet gun and snuck up on “that pesky Crow“, (alias Raven), that haunted her bird bath depositing entrails and maggots and decaying flesh. The “Crow” won this time, but his time is predictably limited.
The extended invite encompassed streams of guidance and advise, exuded happiness and contentment in Arizona and tours of Prescott and “PV” and Jerome, AZ, the ex-mining town and current artist colony slapped up against the mountains with a bird’s-eye view of Sedona and accessed along a switched back, winding road that only entrails could compare.
Phinally Phoenix again, by Tuesday morn. This time, with ‘family’ close by and an instant draw to come Northward and homeward.