This afternoon was spent in the company of my family celebrating my delightful aunty Betty's 75th birthday. We drove over to a hotel on the promenade and were treated to an afternoon tea with jazz, pink champagne and cakes, cakes and more cakes. We have quite a big family and over the years there have been plenty of get togethers. Sadly, as time rolls on some of the older generation have either passed away or are now becoming a little frail. Today, my gorgeous aunty Betty looked a million dollars and did a speech which brought a few tears to the eyes. My aunty Betty is one of the funniest and quick witted of women who has a sharp turn of phrase and a salty mix of language which comes out every now and again. Aunty Betty is one of those true Lancastrian older generation ladies..brutally honest, speaks her mind yet has an inner core of steel and a heart of gold. I love the bones of her.
Aunty Betty and my mum are sisters and are totally fab when together. They are the two surviving siblings of four and have such a unique bond it's lovely to watch. Unfortunately, with the passage of time they're not as sharp and quick on their feet as they once were. They are also as deaf as doorposts and a little cantankerous at times which can lead to embarrassing moments. I've noticed my mum will stare a little at someone and then make a not so subtle comment something on the lines of 'you see that Sheila over there? Her new haircut makes her look like a lesbian. Hasn't she let herself go?'. I'm cringing whilst trying to stifle a 'shush, mum please', whilst my mum retaliates with 'stop giving me black looks, she does look like a lesbian'. Mum and aunty Betty have also turned into Cissie and Ada.. Les Dawson's comedy older ladies. Only in mixed company and when relaying a juicy story will these two 'mouth' the offending word. Offending words are on the lines of hysterectomy, homosexual, penis and sexual intercourse. I loved it once when my mum was earnestly trying to tell me about a friend's husband having cancer unfortunately on his penis. It's a joy that I'm a woman in my forties and a nurse and yet my mum tried to tell me this story but fell short of actually saying the word 'penis' instead preferring to point downwards and 'mouth' the word with no voice. And yet, I remember visiting her in hospital whilst she was still recovering from the effects of anaesthetic and I have never, nor will ever hear again as many expletives and words not heard since the Liverpool dockers strike in the 60's. My mum still doesn't believe she said words like 'dickhead', but as I keep reminding her in christmas cards and in mixed company, she really did. Aaah, the older generation. The same will happen to me one day I'm sure of it.
Anyway, my aunty Betty's party was lovely and was very classy which is just what she wanted. As we drove away, I pulled up in the car and looked across the bay towards Heysham and the Cumbrian mountains. Boats and yachts were sailing, people were eating strolling and eating ice creams, the sun was streaming across the sea. We have the windows down and are drinking in the vision of loveliness in front of us. And then mum pipes up.. 'I didn't like that Stephen. Bloody gannet eating all of Betty's sandwiches. He wants to watch his weight that one'. And I smile and think, cantankerous and a little eccentric they might be, but I wouldn't be without my mum and my aunty Betty.