Great Sadness

My father texted me this morning to tell me that his sister, my aunt passed away last night.


There are so many layers to this. My father’s family of origin has been one of those topics I don’t really like to talk or even think about. His mother was a narcissistic, lying, dramatic bitch. His father was an abusive alcoholic who came through for me a time or two when I was a kid. But his mother…she made so much trouble for my parents and eventually me too. My father had two sisters and it keeps hitting me over and over today that now he only has one living sister, who is also a lying bitch.

Here’s the shortest way I can tell you about these people without getting into the decades of drama I have endured with some of these people. His mother always described herself a precocious child, getting into things at a much younger age than she should’ve. She met my grandfather when he was in his 20s and she was…15? It was at some dance and he was in his Army uniform. Whatever. They got married and had my father like nine months later. Then five years later they had his first sister. And seven years after that, they had his younger sister, who is the one who just passed away.

She was born and the doctor told my grandfather that she had Down Syndrome. My grandfather, in all his infinite wisdom, decided that keeping it from grandmother was a good plan. Eventually she figured out that something was wrong MONTHS later and my grandfather had to fess up to what was really going on. In a time when most people put these children into some kind of residential facility, my grandparents chose to keep her with them. And somehow my father’s mother convinced her older daughter that she should always be responsible for her sister.

My father’s sister is brilliant, apparently. She went to law school and worked as a lawyer for 10 years. Then she quit. She got some accounting certification and did something with that whenever she felt like it. Then my grandfather died, leaving her as the one mostly responsible for her sister. That’s right, she never ever moved out from her parents’ house. She did everything with them like she was a child.

Then her mother died and it was just the sisters. They’ve been doing this for about 11 years. She was a terrible caregiver. She was so dumb about actual illnesses her sister had.

Once when I was getting ready to deploy, she offered to help because she had moved to the same town where my parents and I lived in Georgia. I took her up on the offer because we needed the help. She was terrible as a caregiver to them, letting them play in the backyard until midnight or later, letting them eat whatever they wanted, and not doing any sort of adulting, which is the help we needed. To make matters worse, the following year while I was AGAIN deployed, she called CPS on us. Yes, child protective services. She made up a bunch of lies and my ex had to deal with the fall out from this call. It was resolved fairly quickly, but it was a mess that she created. When I finally figured out that it was her, she fessed up quickly, saying she was just trying to help. Whatever. I told her we were no longer family and if I saw her around town, I would treat her like a stranger. She never apologized and I will never speak to her again. I still don’t understand why she would do that to me. What did I ever do to her that she would make my life hell on purpose?

But my aunt, other aunt, I guess technically, she was ok. She was my first best friend when I was really small and I thought she was the coolest adult ever because she loved board games and movies and Michael Jackson. She took care of me at baseball games when my grandfather took my father and I to games. She would escort me into the bathroom and make sure I washed my hands and I was ok.

My feelings with all of this are so mixed up because of the hurtful way my father’s mother and other sister treated me. His mother basically ignored me unless she wanted to get back at my father. I didn’t exist when I was sitting there right in front of her. But when there was drama to create, I became a pawn in a game that I didn’t understand. His terrible sister is all alone now, with a life she was thrust into that robbed her of the motivation to find her own path forward. I can’t think of anyone more deserving to be alone than this horrible human being.

I know that these are the things you aren’t supposed to say out loud. The pain that these people have caused me cannot be expressed in any way that makes sense. How can someone related to you want to hurt you when you’re just a child? Or just someone trying to do the very best you can?

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