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Bradford Lad: The Day My Aunt Went Away

Mike Coatesworth tells of the saddest of sad partings.

The sun is shining, but thereís still a bit of a nip in the air. My aunt used to love this time of year. She said that the smell of the flowers as they opened their petals to receive the warm rays from the sun brought her great joy.

It was also at this time of the year that we had to say goodbye to my aunt. She was leaving our family home to live in a one-bedroom flat in Peterborough in a complex run by the Blind Association.

I was shocked when she told us she was leaving. I asked her why she had to go. She said she had been given the choice of being admitted to a blind institution, or having some independence by living in her own flat. Wanting to retain some control of her life she had chosen the flat.

I held her tightly. Tears fell in torrents. I told her she couldn't leave us. We needed her. We thought of her as our mother. Why was she leaving her "children''?

Even as I sked the question I realised she was leaving us because there was no alternative. She explained that if she continued to live with us there would be problems for everyone. "I am doing this for you children,'' she cried.

No matter how quickly I wiped away her tears I could not dry her eyes.

My heart was heavy when I saw her cases being brought down the stairs into the hallway. We had been given the day off Lapage Street School to say our goodbyes. I was now wishing it was possible for her to leave without us saying a word.

My aunt took us into her now-bare room. She asked us to be brave. I couldn't believe this was happening. That the day for parting had arrived.

ĎIíll write each one of you a letter,'' my aunt reassured us. "I will explain everything. I hope that when you are older youíll understand the reason why I can no longer remain in this house.''

Her face was tear-stained and sad.

We screamed and kicked at the people who held us as our aunt was helped into the waiting car. I broke free and ran to the car before the door closed. I clung on to my aunt and refused to let go. Somehow I felt that if I could keep on holding her she might change her mind and stay with us.

"Donít leave,'' I screamed, forgetting that she could not hear my cries. My aunt was deaf as well as blind.

Even though she could not hear my cries she understood what was happening. She took me in her arms and rocked me back and forth. "I have to go now,'' she whispered. Her tears fell on my face. "Please let me go.''

The car started to move. I ran to the top of the avenue to catch a final glimpse of it before it turned onto Rushton Road and could no longer be seen.

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