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.