top of page
Jackie & Auntie Chris.jpg

Jackie and Auntie Chris

The object that I have is a chair covered in teddy bear fabric.  And I inherited it from my Godmother who I had quite a, she  lives, lived a long way away but erm, had quite a special  relationship with her I guess. And she passed away a couple  of years ago. She had cancer and she was under the care of  Christie’s Hospital Manchester, and she fought a long and  hard battle with cancer. And erm yeah, she died a couple of, a  couple of years ago and I inherited the chair from her. 

She didn’t leave it to me in her will, the sort of history behind  the chair was I, when I first finished university I lived in the  Midlands. I lived in Stoke-on-Trent and my Godmother and  her husband lived in, lived in Macclesfield. And so they used  to come, we’d go out for Sunday lunch quite a bit. And I went  to stay with them one weekend and we just went round the  shops, I think in Cheshire, and er, she saw this chair with the  teddy bear fabric. But it wasn’t that chair, it was like a children  . . . a small children’s armchair. And the reason why we were in  the furniture shop in the first place was that she had this old  chair that she wanted to get re-covered. And she obviously saw  the small child’s armchair and my (I call them aunt and uncle,  they’re not my aunt and uncle but they’re Auntie Chris and  Uncle Norman), erm my Uncle Norman was like, "You’re not  havin’ that!" erm "You can’t possibly have a child’s armchair.  I don’t, where are we gonna put it?" And then she thought  ohh, I’ll ask if I can have my chair re-covered in the teddy bear  fabric. So I was with her when she kind of selected this fabric  to get her chair re-covered in. 

Erm and when she passed away, I was in Australia at the time.  I wasn’t, I wasn’t here and so I wasn’t able to go to her funeral.  And I found that quite a difficult experience that I wasn’t in the  country when she passed away. I knew she was very, very poorly  and before she died I’d been in Manchester visiting family and  I’d been able to go and visit her in hospital and say goodbye.  But I just, I dunno, I kind of had always thought I’d see her that  one last time and not thought that that would be the last time.  I guess maybe in the back of the mind I knew but . . . I said to  my Uncle Norman, "Is it possible that I could have the teddy  bear chair? Not now necessarily but maybe could you leave it  to me when you pass away?" But he’s obviously given it to me  now. He’s still around, I saw him yesterday strangely. Erm and  yeah, he gave it to me and asked me di. . . was there anything  else that I wanted? And I said, "No, nothing else that I want of  hers, just the . . ." Cos I have this memory associated with all  of us going shopping and she wasn’t ill then and it just, yeah,  takes me back to that time when we went shopping together.  And that’s how I remember my life when I’d just, was in my  early twenties and bit carefree, and eating Sunday lunch with  them. And just happy memories. So, yeah that’s how I acquired  it, was the fact that I asked for it. Just she’d passed away and  that’s the one thing of hers that I wanted.

I dunno, when you think of things that are acquired through  death, I guess you think of more traditional things, like  jewellery or an heirloom that’s been in the family many, many  years. But I chose the object cos it’s a little, a little bit different,  but also because it has a significant memory. And I remember  that day really clearly, that we, erm my Uncle Norman doesn’t  remember, he doesn’t remember us going shopping, picking  this fabric. He doesn’t, he doesn’t remember at all. So when  I asked for the chair he said, "I, I, I don’t, I don’t remember  you being there." and I said, "Oh do you not remember when I  came to stay for the weekend and Auntie Chris put the chair  specifically in the spare room so it was in the room I was  staying in?" he was like, "No!" So he’s got no recollection of  that time. But erm, yeah that’s why I picked it, just cos it’s the,  quite a recent (well recent, ‘bout twelve years ago) memory.  But a happy memory, rather than, yeah I’ve got jewellery of  my Nana’s but the memory of my obtaining those objects is  quite sad. After her funeral me and my cousin that were left  her jewellery kind of selecting the pieces of jewellery and that  to me, that feels a sad memory. But that’s why I picked it cos  it’s a happy memory.  

No, I didn’t know when I, we went shopping, I didn’t ever know  that I was going to own it. I liked it, obviously I was maybe in  on the act in persuading my Uncle Norman that he wanted  teddy bear covered seats . . . but erm I didn’t, I didn’t know that  I was, that I would own it. But obviously again, I did ask for it, it  wasn’t left to me per say. I could have asked, my Uncle Norman  said I could ask for anything that I wanted, but that was the  thing that I asked for. 

I don’t use it; I don’t sit on it. I don’t erm, it has actually been  at my parent’s for quite a while, since I obtained it, and I guess  I’ll put it in my son’s nursery. But erm, my cat sits on it but I  don’t sit on it. I put things on it. I don’t, yeah I don’t sit on it. I  don’t know why, I just don’t sit on it. But I know when, when  my Auntie Chris was kind of in the end stages of her cancer,  my Uncle Norman used to pull it up to the side of the bed and  he would sit in that chair talkin’ to her. Just kinda before she  passed away, that was the chair that they had in their bedroom  that he would sit next to her and read or. . . Erm I don’t know  why I, I don’t know if I’ll ever sit in it. Cos I, it feels so precious  that it’s almost like, ooh, I don’t, I don’t know that I ought to  sit on it.  

How would I describe Auntie Chris? She was a gentle soul. She  was very softly spoken and just kind. She was almost like ya  Fairy Godmother, in a very traditional sense of very caring, very  kind and warm person. She used to write letters all the time.  She’d write, we used to. And that’s kind of how as an adult  my relationship evolved with her, was through p. . . being pen  friends almost, but not. But we’d s. . . she’d always have a little  card, she’d always send you a, a little card and I used to write  back to her. And that’s kind of what our relationship was as  I became an adult, is that we’d, we’d write more than seeing  each other, cos obviously I moved. Once I moved from Stoke, I  moved back down here and so I didn’t see her very much. But  we’d, we didn’t speak on the phone very much, but we’d always  write each other these little cards. Even if it was just a few  sentences in a little card, we’d, we’d write.

But erm, but I’d like to say goodbye cos I never got the chance  to say goodbye. And that I’d keep up my relationship with  Uncle Norman I guess. Because my relationship was primarily  with her, not with him. Yeah I’d like to say goodbye but also  that I’m gonna make sure that Uncle Norman’s in my life. And  you know I invited him to my, well I invited them both actually  to my Masters graduation, but she didn’t live long enough to  go to that. She died in the December and my, I graduated from  doing my Ma. . . I was doing my Masters for three years part time and they went to my undergraduate graduation. I just  invi. . . I wanted them there at these special events. And yeah,  so they came to my undergraduate graduation and I invited  them both, when she was still alive, to come to my Masters  graduation but she, she unfortunately passed away. Erm but  Uncle Norman still came and erm, I knew that Christmas would  be a difficult time, so Christmas just gone, Uncle Norman  came down. My brother and his sons and my sister-in-law, we  had a big family Christmas, which we never normally have.  And yeah, he was part of that, which was really lovely. And  yeah, I guess I’d like to reassure her that I would always stay in  touch with him. That my, even though she was my primary, my  relationship was primarily with her. And say goodbye and that  I miss, I miss her even though we didn’t see each other all the  time. Her presence in the world, I miss.  

I like it because it’s very childish but in a grown up seat. It’s  kind of quite bizarre, in the fact that it’s quite an old person’s  seat with an adult’s chair, but with this very childish fabric.  That’s what I like about it; it’s almost a bit weird in the fact  that you wouldn’t normally see an old chair like that with such childish fabric. And I guess that’s probably why lots of people  might not like it but that’s one of the things that I love about  it. I guess I maybe dislike the fact that it’s so old fashioned  shape, but yeah, that’s maybe the thing I dislike about it. And  obviously doesn’t match any of my other kind of IKEA furniture!  Erm yeah, that’s yeah maybe what I dislike about. But I just,  yeah I really love it because it’s so almost, contrasting style  and fabric is what I like about it. 

The weird thing that I think of when I think of her is she was  always into decorating her house for Christmas. She’d have a  big tree and she’d have lots of decorations. And we never had  decorations, we just had a tree. But she had this really strange  erm ghost that she put up at Christmas. Not for Halloween but  for Christmas. And it was about this big and it was made out  (it was one of those one’s where you open it and it folded round  and you clip it together), out of like crepe paper. And it had  these big googly eyes and sort of floated around her, she had  it in her lounge. And I think of that when I think of her.

In regard of faith, I’m not religious in any way. I was brought  up as, in a religious family but erm, and I’m christened and  confirmed but I am more, I would say I’m more of a spiritual  person than I am a religious. And I guess grieving for her was  quite difficult cos I wasn’t able to say goodbye in a traditional  way of going to her funeral or erm . . . so I like to think, and  what helps me, is thinking about that she is watching over  me like, almost like a spirit guide or some sort of guardian.  But she’s there. I don’t really, I don’t really know if that’s a  faith perspective but it’s kind of a spiritual belief, that spirits  guide us and that she is lookin’ out for me and that she knows  what I’m doing. That she’s happy that I’ve got this chair and  that she does remember the events of the chair. Cos she’s  someone who was very sentimental and she, she probably,  she probably had all the labels that came with the chair, the  bag that came with the chair, the erm, the washing and the  label instruction; she kept everything. Like paperwork, if they  went somewhere on holiday, my Uncle Norman said he’s found  files and files and files of like just leaflets that she would have  picked up when there. So I think she would have remembered  and that’s, I kind of like to think that she’s there thinking I’m  actually pleased that you’ve got that chair, and that she would  remember instantly that day.  

Yeah I guess there are lots of things that maybe I think about  my aunt, Auntie Chris, quite a bit. And there are lots of things  that I’ve done since she died that I maybe wouldn’t have done,  like having a MacMillan coffee morning and baking cakes in  her memory. And just, yeah I’m, I’m glad that I have something  that represents our relationship but also that I can keep and  pass to other people. So that they know what a special person  she was, even though she wasn’t, you know, she wasn’t a  family member. She wasn’t, she wasn’t really my aunt, erm. To  me she’s more . . . more precious than perhaps my real aunt.  I don’t think there’s anything else that I could say about her  cos I guess words can’t really convey my relationship with her.  Erm, I’ve still got the last Christmas card she sent me, you  know, that’s the kind of, I don’t keep Christmas cards, but the  last one she ever sent me, I’ve kept. And yeah I wish I’d kept all  the little letters she’d sent, but I didn’t. It’s in hindsight isn’t  it? It’s a wonderful thing when someone’s gone, you look back  in hindsight and think, ah I wish I’d kept this, I wish I’d kept  that. But yeah.

bottom of page