My aunt and uncle were like a second mom and dad. They had no children of their own, therefore the five of us became their children.
They performed all parental duties. Took us to buy clothes, fed us, disciplined us and took us on vacation. They were at our house every day, or we were at their house.
At night, they would host all of us and settle into a game of bridge with my parents.
Getting older did not bring relief from my aunt’s influence.
If I screwed up at college, fifty-fifty chance I would receive a blistering phone call from Aunt Helen.
The basis of this relationship was the impossiby, intensely close sisterly ties of my mom and Aunt Helen.
This went on for decades.
When my dad was in his seventies, I drove him to Cape Cod-just the two of us. We were going to do some work on the summer house. Pop and son doing some bonding.
In the car, some sports conversation, then…
“I hate Aunt Helen with a passion.. I want her dead.”
It was like a lightning bolt to my neck.
“She has interfered with every part of our lives for years, and she totally disrespects me.”
I tried to respond but couldn’t.
I looked at him. His lip was quivering. He continued.
“Every decision I made, she overruled.”
It was a 5 hour trip, and he spent most of that time spewing his hatred.
I was sick to my stomach. This was my ‘second mom’ he was talking about.
When we got to the Cape, the diatribe stopped. Nothing more was said for the duration of the trip. I felt great relief.
Shortly thereafter, Aunt Helen was diagnosed with lung cancer. The disease spread rapidly and she passed away.
A priest conducted prayers at the cemetery. Dad stood near the casket, leaning on his cane. I stood ten feet behind dad.
I had no thoughts of my own-I could only think about what Dad was thinking. At this point, late in his life, with her gone, would he forgive?
I doubt it. Forgiveness was not a family trait.
I saw how this ate him alive. And I have vowed to do things differently.
And I have.
But it’s a lot of work.