Auntie Lillian by Don Cowan
Don was born in Sydney in 1936, grew up in Newcastle, became a teacher, and began teaching in the Australian bush in 1955. Of no previous Christian denomination, he became an Anglican in 1961, an Anglican priest in 1969, and a Roman Catholic priest in 2000. He has worked with Mother Teresa’s Brothers in Calcutta and Saigon. Don also has a degree in Social Sciences from Waikato University and was manager of the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society’s hostel in Hamilton for young men released from borstal at Waikeria. Throughout the 1980s he was Auckland City Missioner. Don is now allegedly retired and extremely busy.
My Auntie Lillian was more my mother than my mother, and vice versa. Lillian’s home was more my home than my home. I had no siblings except Barbara, Lillian’s daughter, who was my first cousin, only three weeks older. We considered one another twins and could never wait to be together again, once I returned to Newcastle, a hundred miles north of Sydney, where I had to leave her.
Lillian used to give us exciting holiday adventures, such as a visit across the harbour to the Sydney Zoo (Taronga Park), with rides on Jessie the elephant followed by lunch featuring Lillian’s great, tasty sandwiches.
She often took us to Bondi Beach where we would swim and have lunch with more of those lovely sandwiches and just as lovely cakes.
She would hug me and kiss me, as she did Barbara, as though I were her son.
Lillian was always angry with Uncle Arthur when he came home late from work tipsy and cheerful, but Barb and I were always pleased to see him.
Lillian took us to see the movie Pinocchio at the State Cinema, and twice to see Bambi in which Barbara and I cried both times and still wanted more. She took us for picnics at intriguing Vaucluse House which had been the home of W.C. Wentworth, an early explorer in Australia.
Lillian believed me when I told her I had seen the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio fly slowly past my bedroom window, and no one else believed me. I was six at the time and had the mumps.
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