I had a call this morning that I knew must come, but I’m sad all the same. My aunt, Vivienne Croft, wife of Dad’s older brother Darcey, died this morning. Just old age, a quiet, peaceful passing in Brisbane. It’s especially poignant because she was the last of the line of aunts and uncles on both sides of our family, in Sydney, Brisbane and Bruce Rock, WA.
On the east coast, in Sydney, Grandpa and Grandma Croft, (Ern and Doris), had four kids: Darcey, Jonathan (my Dad), Bill and Marion. All married and had kids of their own, but their generation have all passed on now, all the aunts and uncles. Aunty Viv was the last.
On the Western side of the country, it’s the same. Mum came from a family of six brothers and sisters and they’ve all passed on. I feel a bit sad today. I feel I was blessed by all my aunts and uncles, who all treated me with great kindness. I saw a lot of my WA aunts and uncles when I was growing up and I was looked after, given a bed and a place to live for months at a time when things were a bit difficult for Mum in the mid 1950s. That meant I got to know my Bruce Rock cousins and I had a great time with them. I was a few years younger than nearly all of them which made me feel a bit inferior, but I still had good times.
Uncle Darcey married Aunt Vivienne fairly late but they had four sons who have all turned out to be terrific cousins although, tragically one of Darcey andViv’s boys, Ernest, the eldest, died of a brain tumour in 2010.
The other cousins are Thomas (Tom), Jonathan and Donald. It was Tom who phoned me this morning, soon after Vivienne had passed away.
Being separated by this vast continent in the early part of our lives, we in WA didn’t get to know our Sydney and Brisbane cousins much, that is until the ’90s when email and the internet came along, and digital phone communications and mobile phones. I remember very occasionally taking or making interstate phone calls before the ’90s, in the analogue days, when the lines were noisy and crackly and it was hard to understand what was being said. Now it’s as easy as talking to someone down the street, and as cheap.
Tom and I chose the same career, electronics, and it’s great to be able to chat about electronic topics. Tom’s work has brought him over to WA a few times, so we’ve bonded more than the others. In the opposite sense to my WA cousins, where I was always the young ‘un, on the Eastern States’ Croft side I’m the oldest of all the cousins. That’s because Dad was the first of the four to marry.
When Dad was first diagnosed in 2001 with bowel cancer, which ultimately killed him, I spent a lot of time driving him around and we had a lot of time to talk. He told me then that when he was growing up, all he wanted to do was get married and have kids. Well, he did that for sure.
Aunty Viv was 98 when she died today. It feels strange to think that I’m 75, entering that final stretch of my life too.
I last saw Uncle Darcey and Aunty Viv in Brisbane in 2008 and I’ve got quite a lot of video of everyone over there from that visit, including of Ernie. [That’s provided I can get it back from my hard drive which chose to fail last Friday. I think the motor has failed as it’s not making any noises. That means the heads haven’t crashed onto the discs, which is a good sign. I plan to take it to a computer firm, recommended to me.]
For the past few years I’ve been thinking that I really should have made a trip over there to see Aunty Viv, because I might not get another chance. I had thought I might fly over on Frequent Flyer points, buy a car in Brisbane, see the relatives, then do a driving trip down the east coast, stopping off in Sydney to see the cousins there and going on down the NSW and Victorian coasts. Then driving back across the Nullarbor. It would have been a great trip.
But then the bushfires came in 2018, and driving in those areas and conditions didn’t seem feasible. Then the pandemic started in early 2019 and we were locked in to WA. No exit and no re-entry. That lasted until just a month ago, April 2022. In any case, the floods on the north coast of NSW made travel pretty difficult, so even if we are free to go now, it’s still not practical.
Which is a long way around of saying that my plans to see Aunty Viv, the last of the last, didn’t happen. No matter, I have my memories and my video. That will have to do.