You can’t chose your family……

My mum's family is quite large and they are capable of some moments of oddity. One of them is going deaf so has a voice that cuts through a room like a foghorn and an uncanny ability to find the most tactless thing to say in any given situation, it's a rare and spectacular talent. When my grandmother's dementia developed she began to say the things that we all thought but no one had the spuds to voice "Well I'll tell you straight, we didn't think your boy knew the difference between boys and girls", "Angel? What sort of a silly name is that? With a name that she's going to grow up to be a prostitute" and other such memorable gems. I guess my brother and I have our moments too.

My dad's family, now they are something else entirely. When his mother was alive she was capable of starting an argument in an empty room on her own, the woman would start world war three over some perceived insult. Her sister is a 17 stone geriatric lesbian (or so family gossip has it) with the biggest mono-bosum in history, it arrives 20 minutes before she does. She's almost entirely deaf and so phones up, bellows some news at you then promptly hangs up without any notice whatsoever. There are two brothers, I believe they are my second cousins or something, who had they been born a century or so ago would have had a fantastic and lucrative career in a Victorian freak show. They are know as Little and Large and they are exactly as the description suggests, one is approx 4ft tall, the other 6 and half foot tall and they are exceedingly lopsided. To make matters worse 'the midget' as he's affectionately known, has grown a lump on his head and now looks odder than ever. These people all look a bit weird and have some bizarre characteristics but they pale into insignificance beside……..

My dad's sister.

She is a genuine, card carrying, lunatic. A fantasist who lives in a parallel world somewhere where reality can't touch her. This isn't a recent thing, according to my father she's been like this all her life (although heavy drug use from the early 70s to mid 80s won't have helped any).

We used to think she was thrilling when we were young. She was stinking rich and would arrive at our house with her super-tall husband and bags full of presents. She smoked too much, drank too much, swore like a navvy and wore designer clothes. We knew that when she was younger she'd slept with loads of men and never had a proper job. She'd been sectioned twice. When you're under ten years old this sort of thing is hopelessly glamorous and I was endlessly impressed by the fact that she always wore makeup (and plenty of it), owned more than one house, had a yacht and 2 pedigree dogs. We looked after the dogs one christmas, they arrived at the house in cashmere scarves, one was wearing pearls and she delievered them in a brand new estate car that had been bought specially for transporting them. We were skint at the time and it was a damn sight posher car that the crapwagon we were currently getting by with while my folks raised money to start their business. Visits from my aunt were wildly exciting and unpredictable.

However as you get older things change, circumstances change and you begin to see things differently. When I was about ten there was a huge argument within my family, centred around an accusation made by our branch against one of my grandparents. My aunt took their side, as did her husband, and from then my immediate family didn't exist. Or at least they didn't until 13 years later when a cousin backed up the allegation and suddenly we were back in the fold but by then things had changed. Not only circumstances (the husband had left her and she'd blown the settlement, she was now broke and living in a run down farmhouse) but people. At 20 odd you can see things in people that you didn't notice before, you see the games they play that you didn't notice when you were ten and I noticed things about my glamorous, exciting aunt that I hadn't seen before.

She's feckless. She pissed her very generous divorce settlement up the wall and blew it on pointless crap that she didn't need and couldn't afford. She continued to play Lady Bountiful to the parasitic hangers on who had always flocked towards her generosity because she wanted them to still believe she was rich, hell maybe she was trying to fool herself into believing she was still rich, who knows, the upshot is that the money poured out of the account like water from a drain and nothing went back in. Now she's properly skint and having pissed a divorce settlement, her inheritence form my grandmother's death and her father's portion of the inheritence from my grandmother's death up the wall while steadfastly refusing to contemplate employment my dad and his brother have decided they don't the responsibility of funding her.

She plays games. If you tell her something it gets twisted and turned into something else and is passed on to another person in order to cause trouble. The hours of fun I had trying to convince my mother that my brother and I DID NOT tell the damn woman that she was a shit mother and had brought us up badly don't even warrant description. And I did NOT tell her that my cousin lied to the police (something which I had to explain to the cousin I supposedly maligned). She's bored and out of things where she is, living in a rented shithole with the mentally deficient trainwreck that was once my grandfather so she makes life more exciting by stirring things up. My father has always said she did this but I always stuck up for her and said she was ok and he was overeacting until recently when she started dragging me into her lies. I'd always been left out of it before and frankly I now feel like a bit of a twat for defending her. More fool me eh?

There's a truckload more I could write about her but frankly, I can no longer be arsed. She pissed me off and I've had my rant but she needs to be careful. When my dad and his brother are gone there is only my generation left. As far as I know at least one of us won't have anything to do with her at all and she's seriously ground my gears too. She's become a sad, lonely, aging woman with a drink problem, a smoker's cough, no money and a borderline personality disorder. If she continues to alienate people at the current rate in a few years time the police are going to go round to investigate complaints about the smell from the house and find her dead on the floor, half devoured by cats and undisturbed by humankind for months because no one noticed or bothered that she was incommunicado. Still, she's never given a moment's thought to future consequences before, why break the habit of a lifetime? 

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8 Responses

  1. I love reading your posts! They are always written so well, and they make me laugh. Thanks!

  2. That is one hell of a rant.

  3. Families – they're so dysfunctional aren't they??!

  4. Thank you! It's very nice of you to say so.

  5. It is isn't it? Once again she'd sent me a weird email hinting that I'd let her down by not doing who the hell knows what AND she's wound my dad up again. It was either rant or explode so I went for rant…..

  6. Mine definately is. Mind you, from what I've seen of my husband's, his is too so maybe weird is normal!

  7. I think that's definitely the case. I stopped perceiving my family as normal when I started interacting with friends' families and decided that every family is dysfunctional in its own way.

  8. ah families aren't they wonderful? would we be the people we are without them?

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