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We'll miss Auntie Valerie next Christmas. She came every year a few days before Christmas, all nineteen stone of her, loaded with diamonds in case she ran short of funds - there's a restriction on how much cash residents can take out of South Africa - but that never happened. She spent next to nothing. All she did was eat and drink and we footed the bill for that. What an appetite the woman had. However much I prepared it was all gone by the twenty fifth and we had to have Christmas dinner at a kebab house - the only eatery open.

Last year she arrived on Wednesday the twenty first. Before going to bed I defrosted a mushroom quiche and left it out. Sure enough when I got up on Thursday morning it was gone.

On Friday she complained of feeling poorly. She didn't know if she had food poisoning or a stomach bug. Whatever it was she could have picked up in South Africa, en route or here. I fed her broth and herb teas, hoping the condition would clear up on its own and reluctant to disturb a doctor over the festive season. But her condition deteriorated. On Tuesday we took her to A&E. Unfortunately we'd left it too late.

Christmas won't be the same this year without Auntie Valerie. We're thinking of going away ourselves, now that we can afford it. Those diamonds were worth a few bob.

Story by:

Hedva Anbae

21 November 2016