My mother’s sister Marty was ten years younger than my mother and that meant that she was a teenager when I was born. As a child, I thought she was absolutely cool and I adored going anywhere with her. Years later my feelings changed with regard to Marty. I think you will understand why after reading this.
You have already read about Aunt Marty’s trip to Decatur to pick up her sick daughter. Shockingly, that trip involved both prescription medication abuse and some family fighting, up to and including a slap to the face. After some more of these adventures, I decided to avoid both Aunt Marty and her brother Bob.
When Mother moved to California, it seemed to create some sort of void in Aunt Marty’s world. Almost as though she missed the chaos and animosity that my mother engendered. Marty waited until I was married and decided to schedule her next family vacation to my home in Iowa. She came out to visit despite the fact that although I had graduated from college that spring, I was currently doing my student teaching and I also had a fifteen month old baby to care for.
The first night she arrived, she and her two daughters were going to go to the store. I knew better than to go with them, but my sister agreed to go along. Once in the store, my cousins Kathy Ann and Linda Joyce began grabbing boxes of cereal and bars of candy.
Put that back.
Aunt Marty yelled at her daughters. When that didn’t do the trick, Aunt Marty began slapping them. Apparently slapping is a family tradition. My sister came back completely horrified.
The next day, I was off to my student teaching with plenty of trepidation. When I arrived home, Uncle Larry was mowing my grass in the backyard. Aunt Marty came out of the house and announced:
We had a little bit of excitement today. I left the window in the living room open and your son was dangling out the window over the concrete patio. Uncle Larry yelled for me to come quick and I was able to rescue him before he fell. Isn’t that funny?
Needless to say, I did not find the humor in the situation. I kept picturing the story ending another way. I knew then I would never leave my wonderful baby alone with these two irresponsible adults.
After a few more days, during which I begged my sister to watch my son while I was gone, the relatives returned to Chicago and I thought that would be the end of them. I was right for a time, but later very, very wrong about that.
Years later I attended Uncle Larry’s funeral, another excitement-filled event which involved fighting and hurt feelings. Later Aunt Marty came out to help celebrate my son’s wedding. Put on your shocked face as you learn that this event also involved fighting.