Posted by Racer on February 27, 2004, at 23:10:56
In reply to Re: Thank you!, posted by coral on February 27, 2004, at 16:45:39
It's such a long story, going back to the 60s, but my uncle's wife -- familiarly known as The Wicked Witch of The West, since they're here in California -- is a social climber, and that's kinda what started it. Let's see....
First off, she grew up in a trailer park, which is perfectly fine, but then she married my uncle and disowned her parents, because she didn't want to be "trailer trash" like them. That's bad enough, because the only thing my family really has going on the positive side all the way through to the core is loyalty. Anyway, after disowning her parents, she started nagging my uncle up the social chain, which is also fine. Then, one summer, my other aunt's son stayed with them. His father was black, and not married to my aunt. Guess what happened? He was maybe 4 or 5, and after a few days, she declared that he was too bad an influence on her children for her to take care of him for the summer. Mind you, my mother and aunt were in Europe at the time, and didn't know any of this. So, WWOTW sends my tiny cousin to my grandparents on a bus, alone.
That just the stage set, by the way.
Fast forward a decade. My grandparents are close to the end of their lives, and my aunt steps in tto take care of them. No sign of her big brother. No help from that side of the family. Grandpa dies, not having seen his son for years, and Grandma is very, very sick. This sickness lasts 3 years, during which my aunt keeps a home for herself, her son and her mother, with a full time job, and as much help as my mother and I could offer. Mind you, my mother had her own issues with her mother, so most of our support came from me. (That's also where I learned to correspond, by the way. When I wasn't there to take care of my beloved Grandma, I wrote her long letters everyday.) My uncle, during this time, never visited, never sent his kids to see her, and was generally off in his own little fairyland. The last year of her life, he did call her one evening. Seems he was a little short, couldn't keep his children in their private schools without financial help. (Full professor, international reputation, high salary, working wife.) Never mind that my cousin and I had to do what we could with a public education, never mind that he hadn't called her once in three years to say, "Mom, I love you," never mind that he really needed to pay those tuitions because at least one of his children *refused* to live at home rather than at boarding school, the criminality of this telephone call was the day that he made it: her birthday! He didn't acknowledge it in any way, he just called for money.
Flip a few more pages on that calendar. Grandma has died. My beloved aunt is so gracious that she extends an invitation to these people to come to the funeral, and enter her house. That, my friends, is a very, very gracious gesture. TWWOTW was her genuinely dreadful self. Funeral scene: my uncle, sniffling and snorting in tears -- without the sense to get a hankie or tissue! My aunt and I were sitting together, several rows ahead of him, and she finally got up, stalked back to him, and thrust a box of tissue into his hands. Later, in trying to settle my grandmother's estate, my uncle waffled and then decided NOT to abdicate his role as executor in favor of my aunt. The result? The fees to the attorney, with whom my grandmother believed TWWOTW was having an affair, ate up several years worth of the annuity my grandmother had set up for her children. My uncle also neglected to sign papers that would have settled -- after 15 years -- my greatgrandfather's estate. That, of course, was of no little inconvenience to many people. (Including Bloomingdale's on Lexington in NYC, but that's another story.)
Since then, my mother has not made any moves to be in touch with him. (Oh, I'm leaving reams out of this, by the way, including but not limited to the time TWWOTW stood at her front door saying I could not come in because I was such a bad influence on her children. See a pattern forming? By the way, yes, she'd been informed that I would be there.) My uncle probably doesn't notice that he has no family, but I know that my mother does notice his utter failure in the human race, and I know that it does hurt her. Hell, it hurts me. I remember the stunned look on his face when I, at about 7, was found standing on his kitchen counter getting down the box of MilkBones to feed them to my cousin, about 4! He's a very odd man, probably deeply disturbed, but he was a part of my childhood, and is now no part of my life. And he took with him my cousins, who are virtual strangers to me as well.
So, there's a long version of an old story that never rings sweetly. Whatever you do, remember that, no matter what happens, we're here, and we've heard worse.