clematisI have them. You have them. I mentioned a “toxic relative” yesterday. It was my aunt Roberta, my mother’s older sister by six years. They had a complicated relationship. Their mother (my grandmother Emily) died via a drunk driver when The Commander was 15. I grew up hearing that narrative — “the police came to the door and said ‘your mother is dead'”. I guess that’s how it goes. I grew up knowing my aunt Roberta as a good (but eccentric (but in a fun way (to me))) person and not really knowing that my mother struggled with her until the later years. Whenever Roberta showed up in the yooperland, she was welcomed and, if there were arguments, I did not hear them. Mostly it seemed like people were having fun.

What I think happened is that Roberta, as the eldest child and an adult, tried to take on the role of mother when their mother died. Not what mom needed. She needed *her* mother, not a bossy(?) older sister trying to take on the role of mom. Roberta had many chances to make her way in life and even traveled the world, living and teaching in Japan after WWII. Mom married early (22) but well (my old coot). Roberta did not marry at an early age although she apparently had a chance to, but then she married her long-time companion Tatsuo at age 70. I think there was envy at play in that Roberta wanted something like The Comm’s life, marrying a dashing young airman and (eventually) having children.

Once upon a time, Roberta told The Commander that she wished she could adopt me (and the GG). In other words, she thought I was a good kid and we were making a good marriage. And she came over to visit us when Lizard Breath was born. I welcomed Roberta’s visit and wanted to be friendly with her but it wasn’t all that easy. I made a few attempts to befriend Roberta late in her life but it wasn’t easy because she was a very self-centered person (and a hoarder…) and I had enough to do with my own mother living five hours away. I do remember some good things. One of them is that, when I was a child in the rugged outpost of Sault Ste. Siberia, Roberta supplied me with origami paper and books. She probably never knew how much I appreciated that. I *loved* origami and I still have those books! And then there was the time she sent me false eyelashes. I was 13 and I wore as much makeup then as I could possibly get away with. I wanted to be beautiful and popular and have boyfriends. The Comm wore lipstick and she may have done eyebrow stuff but she did not do eye makeup or particularly approve of it. I will never forget my moom swallowing her tongue when I received those false eyelashes from her sister Roberta.

I *think* it is okay to tell this story on the web nowadays. I don’t think too many folks in the MacMu fam are following this blahg (and if they are, I’m sure they are laughing). As always, I love all of my family members. I miss those who are on the other side, whether they were eccentric or not. After all, we all have our eccentricities.

2 Responses to “Eccentricities”

  1. Margaret Says:

    She sounds like quite a character, but difficult. I have lots of people in my family like that–some I can get along with and some NOT. 🙂

  2. Pooh Says:

    I remember Roberta saying that she always put a spot of lemon-yellow in each of her paintings. There is a painting at the elementary school that reminds me of the few paintings of hers that I’ve seen. Maybe her style changed over the years, and I never knew it.