Today I recalled part of my childhood, I remembered Nana Atti, a figure from almost 50 years ago. I never knew Nana Atti’s first name, although I feel it would have been something like Gwen. Her last name was Atkinson, hence – Atti.
She was no relation and, in fact, I have no idea how she suddenly appeared in our life. I know my mother liked here, and that was all there was to that. We visited often, at least for as long as Nana Atti was alive.
Her house was dark, not unfriendly, just dark and somewhat musty. Her furniture was spare and old and all she needed. It seemed to give her comfort. Even as a child, I sensed she carried a loss, though her surroundings comforted her. I never met, nor heard of, Grandpa Atti. I presume, now, he must have passed, as a child his absence was of no note; my father was a sailor, away at sea more than at home.
On Nana Atti’s farm was a tall, broad branched tree. It called me aloft almost every time I was there. Smooth eucalypt bark and ample branches cradled me. Even as a child, I felt the tree was like Nana Atti,;it held me close, the dust and pollen like the powder of Nana Atti as she hugged me into to her ample bosom. The earthy smell of eucalypts not unlike the scent of age that Nana had.
I wandered freely around that farm, collecting eggs, stepping in manure, and patting the sheep. I enjoyed the unfettered freedom of a boy exploring another world. We always left with some farm produce, some bounty from an afternoon in the sun with Nana Atti.
Although I had not know her for long, I felt a sadness when my mother told me Nana Atti had died, I am not sure how I heard that they found her, in the outhouse, seated and dead. I found her form of dying fitting rather than sad, for Nana Atti seemed to embrace life, the only way it could have been taken from her would have been when she was forced to be still. I believe she would have been accepted this turn of events as she did everything. My biggest regret now is that I never truly knew her, I wished I had had the time to listen to her wisdom. Maybe that is what my mother sought when she befriended her.