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Helena Harper

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   Recent stories by Helena Harper
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The Adopted Aunt
By Helena Harper
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A tribute to a wonderful woman who was like an aunt to me. A story in verse that shows that anyone can be 'family', not just blood relatives.

26th July is Savvy Auntie's Day, which is a day for remembering aunts, great aunts and godmothers everywhere. This is my tribute to a woman who was an adopted aunt of mine. The photo shows her as a 15 year old, racing around Brooklands in a successful record-breaking attempt.

The Adopted Aunt 

A dear, old friend of the father,

this adopted Aunty Thelma,

a motorcyling passion combining

and open directness,

dryness of wit and

keen sharpness of mind

subtly enticing.

The surname Archer,

synonymous with motorbikes

in long-lost 1930s England,

inseparable from her sisterly twin,

both perfectly at home on those

roaring two-wheeled machines,

clad in helmet and leathers,

racing round Brooklands

at incredible speed,

models of skill

and consummate ease -

the world record broken,

an awesome feat and

wasn't it a breeze?

Yet she and her sister

still so young and innocent,

world record holders,

though not yet sixteen,

everyone safe, thank God!

And the bikes? Not a dent!

Flouting conventions

and blazing a trail

for the women of tomorrow

to follow and pave -

like beacons shining their lights

to those who are still far away,

yet rolling ever nearer

in wave after wave.

Yet when day turns to night,

this beacon called Thelma

discards the leathers,

the grease and the grime

and in graceful dress of mirrored silk,

moving with curved elegance

to the music of brass and string,

she turns men's heads,

making their hearts gleefully sing.

One she then finds and

married life starts,

house and work,

exercise and travel,

nieces and nephews,

godchildren galore

filling the seconds

and minutes of her days...

Among them two girls,

honorary nieces of

this old friend called Nick,

showered unfailingly

every birthday and Christmas

with cards of delight

and presents of wonder...

Into adulthood and beyond,

for almost half a century,

though bodily ills dissipate

energy and activity,

no birthday or Christmas is forgot.

No blood aunt could have shown

more love or compassion,

greater thoughtfulness or kindness

or heart steadier, more generous.

No relative could have given

greater cheerfulness or warmth

on visits to that cottage of ancient charm,

nestling in Hampshire countryside

of verdant green,

nourishing the soul with beauty,

peace and calm.

Time has now had its final say,

yet memories of a woman

tall and fashionable,

with happiness of heart

and lightness of smile,

of unceasing strength and dignity

as the lengthening years took their toll,

will most surely gladden the heart

in the days that are to come,

filling it with gratitude and thanks

for a wonderful soul,

freed now from physical bonds

and enriching eternity

with its infinite grace

and endless, glowing charity.

Thank you, Aunty Thelma,

for thinking of us so kindly

through all the many, many years,

for touching our hearts

with zest and joy...

You are family, indeed,

the love in our hearts tells us so,

and we will never forget you,

as witnessed by our smiling tears. 

Copyright © Helena Harper

This poem forms part of my memoir in verse Family and More - Enemies or Friends?  I am so pleased that part of the poem is now on display at Brooklands Museum in the UK (in the Ladies' Reading Room). It is a fitting tribute, I think, to my aunt and her remarkable feat.


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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 3/27/2010
thought provoking read
Reviewed by Dallas D'Angelo-Gary 7/29/2009
An excellent tribute to your anunt, Helena!

Mother and Us by Kathryn Carrington

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Mother and Us by Kathryn Carrington

Sometimes growing up in disfunction is difficult, but even God has a since of humor, when lessons are to learn for the betterment of SOUL...  
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