She's the only person I've known with a leap year birthday.
I'm not sure how old she would have been this year - she was actually a great-Aunt and I suppose would have been well over a hundred (or i guess in her early 30's in leap years).
Her "real" name was Ivy, but only Uncle Stan ever called her that.
This is her wedding photo.
She was my (paternal) grandfather's sister and always seemed great fun - as was Stan, who was nearly as wide as he was tall (by the time I knew him) and who was very like Johnny Morris, who used to talk with the animals on childrens' TV.
When I was growing up they seemed fairly like other "old" people in some ways, but also somehow more fun and even a little racey. Queen was a wonderful dressmaker and always very stylish. They had an almost nude art deco lady holding a globe lamp which I was slightly in awe of (which was stolen from my parents' house some time ago).
I remember my mother commenting on how rather shocking this lamp was. Neither side of the family was particularly bohemian or daring.
They played table tennis competitively, and cards, and laughed a lot. They were party people. My parents had always got on well with them, they had a very good friendship and used to spend holidays together.
Just once my auntie showed me a little of the sadness she'd also had.
They had had a baby boy who died fairly young - at round about 18 months, I think. Mum said that Uncle Stan had then decided they shouldn't have any more children as he didn't want any risk of such suffering for her in the future. Queen had a difficult relationship with my Gran - her sister-in-law - who was not an "easy" person and who could be nasty and manipulative. On one family occasion we found ourselves sitting in my sister's bedroom - I have no recollection of how we came to be there, or what had led up to it - but she was in tears, and told me how my Gran would cross the street to avoid her when they were young, and how she would make comments to the effect that "people with no children of their own shouldn't try and steal other peoples' children."
I was young at the time - early teens perhaps - and can't remember what I said or did, but I wish I'd had the maturity and confidence to talk and listen more, to be a comfort and get to know her better. She never mentioned or alluded to any of this, ever again.
She was of a generation where such things weren't talked about.
I have a small blue beautifully knitted jacket and a rattle which Auntie Queen made for her son which was about all, I think, that she kept of him.
I've not thought of her for some time, but I'm in tears writing this - and there is more. I learned from my mum - after Auntie Queen had died (which was about 13 years ago) - that although she loved and was happy with Uncle Stan, he was not her first love. She'd fallen deeply in love with someone else, but he was considered unsuitable by her family.
This photo of her young man is, touchingly, far more faded than the matching photo of her - i've already considerably darkened it.
So, that relationship was forbidden and/or ended, and she met and married Stan. I wonder if he knew? I wonder what became of that first young suitor.
What heartache and regret she'd known.
I think Auntie Queen always had a soft spot for me: mainly because I've always been very like my mother who she loved so much; also because I was married for over 10 years before we had a child, and I then had 2 miscarriages before LG was born. I always thought that she must have wondered why we waited so long, though she would never have asked, and would have felt some affinity for me in my childlessness, while my brother and sister were producing beautiful bouncing babies.
Auntie Queen and Uncle Stan moved frequently and were ruthless about turning out things they didn't want or need any more. She sold most of her jewellery and mum persuaded her not to sell her exquisitely embroidered and lace-edged tablecloths only by saying, very directly, that she would love to have them and would be more than happy to pay her for them. Needless to say, Quntie Queen gave them to mum and I now have and treasure one of them.
But she kept the little jacket and rattle, and she gave me a couple of pieces of jewellery - a cross and chain which her father gave her for her 21st birthday, and an exquisitely delicate little pendant with seed pearls and tiny sapphires which she said was given to her by a "special friend".
they are all treasures. Happy birthday Auntie Queen.