This post is continued from the last, published on 12 November 2008.
The rumpus continued. From the grandson there was a bit of 'Don't you push my sister!' From the youngest daughter there was a lot of 'I'm not having a door slammed in my face!' From the eldest daughter, there was a little of 'Don't you tell me how to bring up my children!' Both sisters were rude to each other. The youngest was rude to my aunt. The youngest sister shouted that she was going home. My husband turned to me, smirked and remarked that no one could go anywhere until he had moved his car. A few minutes' silence ensued, then my youngest cousin came into the living room and sweetly asked my husband whether he would mind moving his car. It was a change of tone worthy of a Bafta.
As soon as my cousin had left, we comforted my aunt, in the kitchen, whilst we made some tea. (Woohoo, a cup of tea, at last!) My other cousin and her 2 children eventually joined us, in the living room, for a few sandwiches and snacks and we all tried to recover from the stresses and strains of the day. It was a day of tragedy and of comedy. In the end, in spite of the seriousness of the situation, we had to laugh.
Apparently, my younger cousin had reproached her niece and nephew, as she blamed them for the fact that her sister was returning home, to the Midlands, earlier than my younger cousin had hoped. She had pushed her niece, who had slammed the bedroom door in her face and the whole thing had escalated from there.
The oldest sister and her family had travelled down, from the Midlands, on the previous Tuesday morning and were intending to leave on the Saturday, mainly because the teenage children had engagements that they didn't want to miss. My younger cousin was annoyed because, for the first few days after her father's death, she had been left to support her mother and deal with the funeral arrangements alone. Paradoxically, it seemed that she was also suffering some pangs of jealousy, since the arrival of other members of the family, because her mother was no longer solely reliant on her.
The younger sister lived close by, was in the throes of a divorce and had a 5 year old daughter, who was 'a bit of a handful', by all accounts. I had a certain amount of empathy for my younger cousin. My aunt is unable to drive, so when my uncle had become too ill to drive himself to and from the hospital (a 50 mile round trip), the responsibility had fallen on my cousin. My aunt hadn't even been able to shop without her help, because the nearest supermarket was a few miles away.
My older cousin resented the fact that her parents had been persuaded by her sister to leave the Midlands. She felt abandoned and that her sister had deliberately sought to isolate and exclude her. I had more empathy with my older cousin, because I felt that her younger sister had been manipulative and controlling. The younger sister had moved from the Midlands, to the seaside, a few years ago, after getting a temporary job. She had eventually married a local man and had a child. When her marriage had broken down, she had persuaded my aunt and uncle to move to a house close to her.
As my aunt looked back on her own life, a disturbing pattern began to emerge. Her mother (my maternal grandmother) had died after giving birth to her. My grandfather had remarried, but his new wife had refused to take on all 3 of his children. She accepted the 2 older children, (my mother and my other aunt) but the aunt relating the story was handed over, as a baby, to be brought up by a maiden aunt.
My aunt explained how she was often hit so hard in the face, by her aunt, that her nose bled. She was dragged around the house by her hair and hit across the back of her legs with a walking stick. On a few occasions, my late uncle had been physically abusive, during the first couple of years of their marriage and mentally abusive up until the end of his life. He was jealous and possessive. She wasn't allowed to have regular contact with friends and relations after her marriage and sometimes, she wasn't even allowed to speak to anyone on the telephone.
When they moved to the seaside, my uncle chose a house, in a small town, with no proper bus service. Once again, my aunt was isolated and under his control. From the limited contact I had had with the family, and from the remarks I had heard during the argument, after the funeral, I suspected that my aunt's youngest daughter had inherited my uncle's possessive and controlling nature. There seemed to be every possibility that she was stepping into his shoes.
My uncle purposely left no will. He kept my aunt in ignorance about his financial affairs and the running of the house. He bragged that he wasn't short of money, even though the family assured him that they had no interest in it, because it didn't seem to have made him a happy man. They loved him, in spite of his faults. It seems that he may have been prone to exaggeration, in some respects, however. It appears that he may not have left a great deal of money, but he may have left some other sort of legacy, instead.
My aunt understands the potential dangers of the situation in which she now finds herself. She wants a relationship with her youngest daughter, but she doesn't want, or need, another tyrant in her life. She intends to move to a smaller house, in a more suitable area, as soon as the market improves. I suggested that she should make enquiries about joining some sort of local club, or voluntary group, so that she would have an opportunity of making some friends and wouldn't then be totally reliant on her daughter for company.
To a certain extent, my aunt is finally free to make some sort of life for herself. I can only hope that, after so many years of bullying and isolation, that she has the courage to take advantage of the opportunities presented to her.
A good bit of gossip
13 hours ago