Monday, May 29, 2017

My Husband's Cousin

Sometimes it seems some people die and just disappear. My husband's cousin died. I trust the person who told me she had recently died, and I had heard she was in and out of the hospital. Later I did see a death notice, but no one wrote an obituary anywhere.

My husband's family was estranged from hers even though they lived in the same town, the cousin's mother [my husband's aunt]did not get along with his father. Everyone had emigrated from Germany to the same small town back in the 1950s and 60s before the economic miracle in Germany took hold.

I once said to my husband, "You probably would have ended up better off growing up in Germany then the USA",but he said "Things were still pretty wretched then." His father almost went to Australia, so it is weird how people meet based on certain circumstances lining up. He was born here and has full USA citizenship, otherwise we might have already fled the country. His parents never became citizens but stayed here until they both died around 14 years ago. I can't speak any German anyhow and culturally some aspects of Germany would not be for me. He was only allowed to claim German citizenship up to age 23 and of course was perfectly happy growing up American.

Anyhow he had this cousin,she was around my age. She had a very tragic life. I didn't know her very well. She was a drug addict, and sometimes we would run into her at the beach,and at the gas station. I tried to invite her over a couple times when we first lived here, but she would turn me down. Once we made plans for Thanksgiving and she was a no show. So I knew she probably was too severely addicted to maintain normal social interactions,and well I only knew her very little. People in full blown addiction kind of scare me, but with her, I thought we could at least have some contact.

I suspect highly that she was an ACON scapegoat from the little I do know. I know families will have hard times with drug addicts and drug addicts will burn a lot of bridges but from what she told me, about her life, I got the feeling she felt unloved and abused growing up. I talked to her enough to share some of my experiences though I didn't lay it on too thick because she had enough problems of her own. I remember trying to give her some encouragement to tell her bad childhoods can be overcome,but then who knows if I am the posterchild for that hunched over my walker and with my own angst.

One time we ran into her, and I have some face blindness Aspies get and it's weird how people can look so different to me when they are not all there.  I barely recognized her but my husband said hello, and I was able to hide the fact I had failed to recognize her. Well I had only met her 4 or 5 times around town over 10 years. One time we gave her a ride, seeing her walking down this busy road,and another time talked to her while we were sitting on the beach.

I met my husband's aunt once who was her adoptive mother. In this case, the cousin knew she was adopted. The aunt was in her early 80s. This was around 4-5 years ago. I had not gone no contact yet but was reading a lot about narcissistic personality disorder and family dynamics but was considering all these things. I sought out my husband's aunt. We had lived here 5 years, he had little contact with her, and I said, "Since we live here now, shouldn't we meet?" So we did ONCE.

She walked into the restaurant we were meeting at and had a face of disgust for me. I am not sure if it was for my weight or what. I do remember being severely disappointed. She made me feel scared and on edge. She didn't smile very much.

The first question she walked in the room and asked me was, "Are you Lutheran?" I was honest and told her, "No, but I am a Christian, I have gone to baptist churches in the past." The question flustered me. Telling her I was a Christian did not appease her. She didn't seem too happy with this and like she was really angry. My husband had grown up in a German Lutheran family.  This town is predominantly Lutheran. We went on to converse. One thing I noticed around her, is I felt like she was very cold. She reminded me of my mother, upper middle class, and smug, so I was not upset with no more visits with her after that. Obviously she did not like me much, and didn't care about continued contact with her nephew [my husband]  she never contacted us again.

I know the other son, is a well-off doctor, he seems nice enough. I met him once in passing when he saw my husband at an art fair when he came back "home" from out of state where he lives.  He seems like a nice fellow and spoke of having loving visits with his mother.  I wondered how life really was for his adopted sister?

I know the adoptive sister was disinherited upon the aunt's death. The Aunt died a few years after I met her. I did not go to the funeral, we had no contact at that point.

It's sad to me, when someone gets such a hard life. I do believe many drug addicts and alcoholics come out of abusive families. Not every ACON struggles with substance abuse problems but some do. It really bothered me, that we found out this cousin died three months after the fact.  Her family obviously did not care. Some would judge and say, her drug addiction cost her the family, but I would say in this case I wondered if the family in the first place was part of the underlying trauma that led her to become addicted to drugs.

I think of how that "aunt" treated me, and how she wanted nothing to do with me, for not having the "right status" or "look" and I think about what happened to her. It really hurt at the time. It's like the Tiffany Sedaris story, and Aunt Scapegoat. People do become "throw-aways" in families, it is sad to see. 

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