I can just imagine her back at her upscale retirement home telling anyone who can hear, ” …..and she yelled at me and humiliated me in front of every one!”
Last Sunday we had a family get-together which included my Aunt Doreen, my mother’s sister. Aunt Do didn’t have children so we are her only family. She is much closer to my sister who has children and grandchildren. They would visit her in Florida and had a place for her to stay when she spent her summers in Canada in order to keep her old-age pension and free health care. I, on the other hand, lived with a curmudgeon in a place no one would want to stay in. I would only see her when she stayed at my mom’s in a trailer she and my uncle used in the summer.
She was OK then, a bit conceited but entertaining; she certainly didn’t live by the ‘normal’ standards. She loved to Flamingo dance and be the star in musicals they would put on every year in Florida. And she loved to show endless photos of herself in the shows. Then she would perform the numbers she did in the shows. I got a little tired of her showing off; my mom had multiple sclerosis and spent her last decade mostly in bed. I used to feel a little disgusted when Aunt Do showed off her dancing in front of my mom.
My Uncle Don was a really nice guy who tempered Aunt Do when she got out of hand. After he died we realized how much he had ‘tempered’ her. He did housework in their very tiny homes and did the dishes after dinner. She pretty much did whatever she wanted and cooked. His death was a great loss to her. He really was “her better half”. She became more outspoken, more bitter and meaner. She can’t seem to accept that old age happens and life can’t be perfect even though she has as good as you can get for 91. She still has her own apartment in a wonderful retirement complex; buses to take them anywhere and everywhere and she doesn’t have to worry about money at all.
So there she was on Sunday. Her hearing aid batteries were dead but it’s everyone’s fault that they don’t speak up. You literally have to go over to her good ear and yell. She’s getting a little ticked-off because conversations are going on around her but she can’t hear.
After desserts, (I made strawberries and whipped cream and my niece made a pie) the big kids took the little kids to put on their bathing suits so they could run in the sprinklers. There was just me, my sister and my aunt. Jennifer and I were talking when I saw Aunt Do get up and take a spoon of whipped cream out of the big bowl, then, in horror, watched her take the spoon back down and take another mouthful. I couldn’t help but blurt out, “Aunt Do, don’t do that! it’s very unsanitary!” (I wanted to take that whipped cream back home!)
She looked confused at first. “What?”
(louder) “Don’t eat from the bowl, put some in your bowl if you want more”
“Everyone was doing that!” she said nastily.
“They’re putting it on their desserts, not eating it out of the bowl”
(louder) “They are putting it on their desserts, not into their mouths and back!”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” she commanded. That’s when I stopped talking. I used to get drawn in, but now I just clam up.
“Everyone was doing that!” She was really getting into a snit now. She got up from her chair (which is a struggle) and walked around in a circle, obviously very mad. Then my niece came in the room and Aunt Do started to cry.
“What’s the matter Aunt Do?” she says with concern, putting her arm around her.
“I just don’t like being yelled at and humiliated in front of everyone!” Then she totally breaks down in tears, sobbing.
“What happened?” my niece asked. When I tried to tell her, Aunt Do cut me off….. “Everyone was doing that!” she spat.
I could not muster up an apology, at first, but I knew I had to because my mom would want me to. So when they were leaving, she was seated in my nephew’s van, I went up and hugged her and said, “Sorry, I upset you, Aunt Do”
“I only like kind people” she whimpered. “Try to be kind”
I nodded and smiled a stiff, fake smile. I don’t ever think ‘I may never see her again’: I’m sure she will live to 100.
And you know what? I’M NOT SORRY! So there!