Whenever l hear the word special, only one thing comes to mind, my aunt. Growing up l never knew my aunt, l only heard people talk about her and her good deeds. The way they talked about her made me eager to meet her.

It was as if God listened to me and gave me an early answer to my prayers. When my father got sick he decided to take me to her so l could stay with her in order not see him in so much pain. We went to a small village in Malamulele – that’s where she stayed with her husband.

There are many things that made her special to me. l would be lying if l say l didn’t see a mother figure in her. Everything she represented was truth. My aunt was a woman who had dedicated her life to God in all ways. Not only was she God-fearing, but she was also a true believer in all things good. When l went to stay with her the only thing l knew about chores was to wash dishes and even so l was not perfect at that at all. She would sit me down and teach me how to cook and perform all manner of womanly duties.

She was my rock, my pillar of strength. l know they say every child needs a mother. Even though l talked to my mother on the phone l never felt the void she left in my life. l knew l had a mother in my aunt. Indeed, she was special to me. She was there when l matriculated. She taught me what was wrong and right.

In her l saw a hero. A woman of great values. A rock that can stand by anything no matter the situation. l wished to grow old and be like her. Age had taken its course with her but that never defined her. She had the strength of youth. She never allowed age to restrict her from doing anything she saw fit.

I cannot erase the fact that she has passed away from this earth. l cannot try and forget the fact that she is gone. What I am proud of is all the values she left me with and memories that no one can take away from me. She really did a great job raising me. She may be gone but l see much of her in myself every day. She was special to me in all ways.

I know there will be some milestones and that l will wish she was here. Even so, l don’t regret anything from her teachings. l cannot mention all she has done for her to be special, but her presence in my life for that short period made her special to me. l cannot express how l feel about her in writing, but the way l have grown up says it all.

There is a saying: It takes a village to raise a child. That is very true.

It took a special aunt to raise the beautiful and clever woman that l am today. The word special has different meanings to every individual. To me, special means aunt. l will forever be grateful for such a special aunt and all her love. l know she did not only touch me by her ways, but she touched a lot of people in our community. Her special self was not only seen by me but by all that were always around her.