There was a sense of expectation and anticipation when the family heard Aunty McGrandad was coming to visit.
Joey’s dad explained that Aunty McGrandad was his great-great Aunt and that he would have to expect a very old lady appearing at their front door.
So, when they opened the door to her knocking there stood a woman they had not expected. Aunty McGrandad was a small lady, thin and with a crop of fuzzy silver hair. On her nose was a pair of green-rimmed glasses behind which her eyes twinkled.
There was a spark to Aunty McGrandad, she stepped lithely into their house carrying a large floral bag with large handles.
Joey was immediately attracted to her. Her smile was warm, and she asked Joey if he could show her to her room. She told his parents she was on her way south, an annual trip which this year took her through their town, hence her visit. Joey’s dad asked if she had more luggage, but her reply was: “I travel light.”
Joey, who was five thought himself a big boy now he was going to school, and so led the way to the room Aunty McGrandad would be staying in.
He watched as she placed her bag on the bed and undid the large zip. She took out a floral teapot and sat it on the side table and then took out a cup and saucer and placed them next to the pot.
Joey watched amazed as she proceeded to pour herself a cup of steaming tea. Sipping it, she said: “Just the thing after such a long trip. My throat was parched.”
Noticing Joey’s look of wonder, she asked if he would like a cup as well. Joey wasn’t sure but watched as Aunty McGrandad took another cup and saucer from her bag. She handed the cup to Joey and taking her own said: “Bottoms up!”
“How old are you? “asked Joey, sipping on his tea.
“Oh, that and a bit more,” replied Aunty McGrandad, who by now was rummaging in her bag muttering to herself: “Now where are you, Wally?”
Then she held up what Joey could see was a ball of fur. It was blue in colour, and the strands of fur hung down below what he concluded might have been a body.
When he put his hand out to touch it, he was shocked when the fur ball snapped at him.
“Wally!” exclaimed Aunty McGrandad, “manners please, we are not at home. I told you to be on your best behaviour as we are visiting family.”
“What is that?” asked Joey now sitting behind Aunty McGrandad.
“It’s a Grozzel,” said Aunty McGrandad holding it firmly so Joey could get a better look at it. “There are not many left nowadays, they are hard to keep mainly because it’s the Grozzel that finds you, not like you find a dog or cat,” explained Aunty McGrandad.
The Grozzel sat calmly on Aunty McGrandad’s hand as Joey looked at it. When he moved closer, it turned a bright green and moved back from his gaze.
“He’s a bit nervous, he’ll get used to you, just sit quietly now.”
“What does he eat?”
“He loves lamingtons, and well, who doesn’t?” chuckled Aunty McGrandad. “Have you got any?”
“I don’t think so,” replied Joey, “Mum and dad like to eat healthy, so we don’t have cakes. But I think the bakery on the corner will have some in the morning.”
“Well he’ll have to make do with the last one I have,” she said reaching into her bag and bringing out a plastic container with a single dried looking lamington inside.
“Now,” said Aunty McGrandad, “I must to bed. Big day tomorrow Joey, lots to do and I think your mum and dad will be wanting to put you to bed. See in the morrow,” she called as he left her room.
“Did you enjoy talking with Aunty McGrandad, Joey?” asked his dad.
“I think she might be a witch,” said Joey.
“She’s certainly eccentric,” suggested his mother, “Now Mister you best to bed, and let’s see what Aunty McGrandad has in store for us tomorrow.”
Later after Joey was asleep, his mum and dad were commenting on the imagination their son possessed. “Witch indeed,” said the father, “Grandfather always said she was different and there was never a dull moment when she was around. But to me, she’s just a sweet old lady, and I love it that she’s come to visit.”
The Grozzel heard all this and chuckled to itself as it settled for the night.