Friday, October 12, 2012

Remembering Billie

Some times one finds some thing that causes wonderful memories to flood back and that is what happened to me a few days ago …. and prompted me to share them with you.

Auntie Billie was my late husbands aunt… her actual name was Winifred but no one ever called her that ... even  from when she was a tiny child. She succeeded in everything she attempted and made her mind up at an early age never to be married. This was maybe due to her father running off with a girl of at least 30 years his junior.
 She served in Italy during the war and I think she may have met… and lost … the love of her life there, as I found a photo of a soldier secreted in a book of poems.

She was very creative and when she retired from her career as a boarding school burser, she started a City and Guilds in needle work, which, needless to say, she passed with distinction. Her other main love was animals …especially cats …and she was a fantastic cook ...baking cakes for fundraising events …her chocolate fudge cake was renowned. Her Bread and Butter Pudding was to die for …how I wish I had asked for the recipe. …strange thing was that I had often begged for that wonderful chocolate cake recipe but she always managed to avoid giving it away.
I still remember her special sandwiches for parties in the ‘70s …including small salmon pinwheels and a cheese sandwich  gateaux. It always took centre stage …inside were crust less slices of white fresh bread, cut length ways, sandwiched together with a Gorgonzola, curd cheese and chopped walnuts mixture….the  whole delicious master piece encased in cream cheese and decorated in walnuts. She would then slice it into finger sized pieces that miraculously never fell apart.
She had a knack with a knife….Jesus may have fed  the five thousand but I remember Billie turning a small uncut loaf into a heaving platter of sandwiches by buttering and carving off the thinnest of slices, which I then managed to carefully fill … saving the day when I had forgotten to buy bread one Xmas, and had a house full waiting for turkey sandwiches.
She was independent and strong and never more so as when she was told she had  Pancreatic cancer. She refused treatment and medication and told no-one but her closest friend. The first we knew about it was a phone call saying she had been rushed to hospital that evening …she passed the following morning.
At her request it was Pete and I who were asked to clear her house and it was not an easy job. We found enough empty packets of over the counter pain killers to fill a black sack …we found amazing works of stitched art that she had created during her course …we kept the amazing seating and storage unit she had made from scratch in the late sixties and in fact it then lasted my daughter another 10 years.
 It was during the clear out that I found the soldiers photo but I also found the answer to the chocolate cake recipe …there wasn’t one.

 In one of her kitchen cupboards I found a catering bag of Chocolate sponge mix and another  of Fudge frosting ….who would ever have guessed her secret.

What was it that I found that triggered all this???...
 I came across a bag of Catering chocolate sponge mix in a shop ...and had to buy it..


JoZart said...

Oh, Angie, what a wonderful story and you told it so beautifully, I was enthralled! How lovely to be remembered in such a way! Your Aunt certainlLy made her mark.
Thanks for you comment.....
Rolf Harris is almost a national treasure even though he's from Oz and everyone has a happy memory of his art but the pieces in the exhibition certainly showed his superb talent.
I'm in Derby, shortly to leave with Donna for the crop iN Wilts... Will think of you!!!!
Jo x

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful story, Angie. Billie sounds like one amazing woman who appears to lived life to the full and taken the knocks encountered along the way with marvellous fortitude. And clever of her to keep that 'recipe' a secret :) You certainly know how to tell a tale because I thought you were going to discover the recipe ... I think that what you really discovered was even better! Every time you use some of that catering pack, you will chuckle at the memory. Elizabeth xx

Carmen said...

This actually bought a lump to my throat and goosebumps up my arms. What a remarkable woman and what a way to be remembered. Total saucepot with the cake mix though :D

crafty cat corner said...

Lovely story, thanks Shozzy.

scrappymo! said...

What a wonderful story about your relative. Thanks for sharing her character with us!