Posted by: Debra Kolkka | April 5, 2016

In praise of aunts

I am lucky, I grew up with lots of aunts and uncles. Mum is the youngest of 8 and Dad was the eldest of 3. There were fun weekends with our many cousins at the beach, or on picnics beside mountain streams. I loved it.

My Aunty Rose died last week. She was 95. You could say she had a good innings. She was as lovely as the roses she grew in her garden.

Aunty Rose played the piano beautifully, she made the best cakes and they were served on pretty plates…afternoon tea at her place was great.

She married my mother’s brother, wonderful Uncle Bob, in the middle of WWII. He was away fighting for most of the war, in Palestine, Crete and New Guinea. He had a rotten time and rarely spoke of it. The first years of their marriage must have been extremely anxious for Aunty Rose. She did her bit by joining the land army.

She was always beautifully dressed and her lovely thick hair was never out of place even when it turned snowy white.

She loved her 2 daughters dearly. Sandra was born profoundly deaf and Aunty Rose was her best teacher. She taught her to speak and to lip read by spending hours practising every day. Sandra learned by watching her mother’s lips and feeling the vibrations on her throat. The fact that Sandra speaks so well is testament to her mother’s persistence and patience.

Of course, we thought nothing of the hardships she and Uncle Bob endured, they were just there with us for days of scouring the beach for treasures, or whirling us around to make us squeal with delight, or making cakes.

I feel very lucky that I knew Aunty Rose for 63 of her 95 years. I have only 2 aunties left, and only 1 uncle, all in their 80s. I hope they last at least as long as Aunty Rose.


  1. I also had a favourite aunt. She was my mother’s eldest sister and she was married to my father’s brother, so she was like a second mother to me. She was also my godmother. Aunt Alex was a beautiful lady, very elegant and always impeccably dressed with her own personal style. She died over 20 years ago, but she still lives in my heart and will always do.

    • We are lucky to have such happy memories of our families.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your Aunty, Debra.

    • She was a wonderful aunt. We will all remember her fondly.

  3. A wonderful testament to a special aunt…the last aunt I had died last summer and it really is hard to realize the end of one generation…..aunt Jackie was very special and only 19 years older than I am…..see you soon

    • It is the loss of a generation and people who have known us all our lives that is difficult.

  4. What a lovely and heartfelt tribute to your Aunt Rose. My condolences to you Debra and to your family. She was obviously a very special part of your lives.

    • We all thought she would live to be 100, she came from tough stock.

      • One can never tell, but she lived to a good age. 😘

  5. How blessed you are to have had Aunty Rose. They sure made them tough in those days hey. I had a very similar childhood to you.

    • We were blessed to have all of our fabulous aunts and uncles. It is a pity we can’t have them forever.

  6. A lovely tribute to your Auntie Rose. She sounds like a lovely woman.

    • She was. We looked forward to their visits.

  7. What a lovely tribute to a beautiful Aunt – she was aptly named. I’m sorry that she has gone but happy for you that you recall such lovely times with her. I had some lovely Aunts too, my Dad’s sisters, they were not tall but were stout of heart and stature. They give me love and laughter and were wonderful bulwarks for me against my Dad’s temper.

    • She was well named. I will call one of my roses at Casa Debbio Aunty Rose.

      • What a beautiful gesture, Deb! Feel touched you want to name a rose after my mother. Yes, she was truly a rose in every way. XO

  8. Lovely Deb, thanks for sharing your Aunt Rose with us! xxx

    • I could not let her passing go without saying something. I will not be there for the funeral as I am in Italy.

  9. Like you Debra, we grew up with lots of aunties and uncles around all the time. They are certainly special and your memories of your Aunty Rose will forever be with you. Our thoughts are with Sandra and yourself and families.

    • All of my memories from my childhood with my aunts and uncles are good ones. Uncle Bob and Uncle Les were wonderful artists and we loved to get them to draw funny things for us.

  10. Oh Debra! Thank you for your beautiful tribute to my mother, Rose! She lived a long life filled with love from her family and friends. She was every inch a mother and MY mother. I loved her dearly – she was wise, gentle, kind, funny and beautiful inside and outside. My sister, Robyn, and I and our families will miss her very much.

    • Rose is a lovely name…and it suited her. I just imagine little Gran Kellow giving her little girl that pretty name.

      • Yes, Mum was born Jeanette Rose Kellow. Everyone called Mum “Rose”. Mum’s favourite teacher at school called her “Rosey Posey”. Yes, Mum was every inch a Rose without the thorns. Her perfume will linger for a long time to come.

  11. There was also eight in my father’s family too and it’s the same for me; two aunts and one uncle remain.

    • Those big families are a thing of the past now. My son has grown up with just 1 aunt and 2 uncles.

  12. Thanks Deb for those words about Aunty Rose. We were fortunate to grow up on the Gold Coast and frequently see our cousins and aunts and uncles.

    • We were very lucky to have such fun visits firm the extended family. I remember all the lunches and picnics.

  13. They’re invaluable. I only really had one aunt and she was wonderful. She is not well at the moment and I wish I was closer to her geographically.

    • Aunts can add much to our lives.

  14. Beautiful tribute to your Auntie Rose. Seems that she was a lovely woman. Rest in peace. I am sorry to hear your loss dear Debra, memories will keep her forever. Love, nia

    • Aunty Rose will always be with us.

  15. I am sorry to hear about your dear aunt. Two of my relatives recently turned 100, a cousin of my mother’s and my father’s sister, so if any of the surviving ‘oldies’ in your family are from the Finnish side they might have a couple of decades to come.

    • My father’s sister is still with us, so her Finnish heritage might help. Aunty Rose was of strong Scottish stock.

  16. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful Aunt! I am very sorry for your loss, but I’m glad you have those lovely memories.

  17. What a lovely tribute to your aunt who certainly must have been an amazing mother and woman.

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