Not just celebrities

The Internet and blogs have been awash with blog posts and articles about the amount of celebrities who have died during 2016. I even posted a tribute to David Bowie myself, on this blog. And as the year went on, it didn’t seem possible that so many famous people could pass away, in such a short space of time. With all the tributes, emotional memories and recollections, vigils outside houses, and television specials, it is understandable that the deaths of so many ‘ordinary’ people might be overlooked. But it is not only celebrities who have left us, during this cruel year.

In the early hours of this morning, my beloved Aunt Edie died.

She had never written a book.
She never made a record.
She was never in a film.
She had never appeared on TV.
She never had to deal with a well-publicised drink or drug problem.
She never had to ‘come out’ in public.
She was never hounded by paparazzi.
She didn’t have to cope with rich parents who didn’t really love her.
She never appeared on the front page of a national newspaper.

But to me, she was as famous as anyone could ever be. Brought up in South London, enduring the Blitz, and working hard all of her life. She raised two lovely children, and gave them the chances that she had never enjoyed herself. She outlived her husband, both of her sisters, and her only brother. She loved her family, and was well-known for playing the piano, banging those ivories all night during long parties of sing-songs at my Grandmother’s house.

When I was young, we all lived together in the same house, and she was as good as a second mother to me, when my own Mum was out at work, or off somewhere with my Dad. She went on to become the redoubtable landlady of three South London pubs, following a family tradition started by her own uncle. Whenever she could, she helped other family members, raised money for charity, and supported her husband when he became terminally ill. She never forgot her roots, and personified the hard working-class life that made her the woman that she was.

In her latter years, she retired to rural Essex, but even when she became infirm, she refused to let any medical problems get the better of her. In a final gesture of her innate social responsibility, she even donated her body to medical research, so that future generations of doctors might learn from the circumstances of her demise.

I will miss her much more than I will miss Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, David Bowie, or any of the other celebrities that I never met.

I will miss her more than she will ever know.
Rest in peace, Edie. You were much loved in life.

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80 thoughts on “Not just celebrities

  1. Very sorry to hear about your aunt. It isn’t necessary to be famous to touch people’s lives and it sounds as if she touched many. May she rest in peace. A terrible year that seems to keep going on and on. Thinking of you and your family.

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  2. Your Aunt Edie was a very special lady indeed Pete and I cannot imagine just how much you are going to miss her. As for her living to a ripe old age well, that can never mitigate one’s sorrow. All you can do is recall and treasure the precious memories that you have of her. Brian

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    1. Thanks for those kind words, Brian. No doubt you recall what a personality she was in our family, and appreciate how much she will be missed.
      Hope you are feeling better mate.
      Love and best wishes, Pete and Julie. x

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  3. Beautiful post, Pete. Your Aunt Edie and my grandmother Nan would have been the best of friends. Reading your words was quite heartening. Thank you. I’m so sorry for your loss, And yes, Edie was by far the real winner amongst the stars.

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  4. Pete, I was more saddened by the loss of Debbie Reynolds, who was a Las Vegas resident, than by the death of Carrie Fisher. But it’s true that while these celebrity deaths are sad, the sadness does not endure long. When a close relative dies, though, the sadness is deep and everlasting. I was very fond of my aunt (my father’s sister), and when she died prematurely at the age of 72 on July 19, 2006, I cried…and cried! We had an emotional bond that surpassed that which existed between myself and my own parents. I have a few small articles that once belonged to her, and cherish them. We shared many views on life, spent some time together in her final years, and I even spoke to her at length (three states between us) on the phone a couple of days before she passed away. She was bubbly and full of optimism, despite having lived a very difficult life, and also, in her last months, despite ongoing suffering from an accidental head injury—a falling box at her place of employment. I would go so far as to say that my aunt was heroic, and I admired her very much. I miss her to this day.

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    1. Heroic is the perfect way to describe these doughty ladies who worked hard, and made the best of everything that life threw at them. That their loss has such an impact on the families left behind is a tribute in itself.
      Thanks for your kind comment, David, and for sharing your own story too.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. My maternal grandfather died when my sons were very young. They got to meet him. I don’t think a day goes by in the 35 years since he died that I don’t think of him in one context or another and smile. As with your Aunt, it hurt at first. It still brings tears to my eyes. But, as long as you have memories of her she continues as she did in life being a compass and source of joy. My condolences for your loss. Keep her close.
    Warmest regards, Theo

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  6. So sorry to hear about your Aunt Edie Pete, she sounds like a great lady.
    Hope you, Julie and Ollie are well. Lots of love to you all Xx

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  7. My condolences, Pete. We tend to lavish praise and memorials on those public figures no one has ever met in real life because we are only familiar of one aspect of their lives. Most of us, hopefully, were fortunate enough to have or had an Aunt Edie. She lives through you now, buddy. Maybe give her a little immortality and use your writing talent to make a biography. 🙂

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  8. Pete, thanks for those kind words about mum, I thought because of her age the impact of her passing wouldn’t be as great. I guess I was just kidding myself, I’m going to miss her immensely, take care mate.

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  9. Thanks so much Pete for a truly lovely tribute to my Mum. I was holding it together quite well until I read your post and now I’m in bits. But she was worth it, she was a diamond. X

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  10. We’re very sorry to read about yor loss, dear Pete. Aunt Edie would have loved to read your loving tribute. Which once again reminds us how important it is to tell the people we love how precious they are and how much we care for them.
    All the best to you in Beetley from us in Cley,
    Dina x

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  11. What a great tribute, Pete. Your Aunt Edie was a gem. I’m sorry for your loss. She was a real person who had a deep impact on your life. So often we become enamored with the celebrity and raise them up on a pedestal, forgiving them for all their foibles and excusing their improprieties. Your Aunt Edie never was famous, but I say it’s a blessing in disguise. I’m glad your life was full of her as her goodness is evident in you.

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