In which Theo takes a holiday from being a Nice Girl and slags off her relatives

You may have noticed I don’t swear much. It’s because I’m a Nice Girl and Nice Girls shouldn’t swear but after I told the gas canister it was a fecking fecking bastard fecker, I realised this could no longer be held to be true. I realised that my Reputation was now in tatters and decided I may as well enjoy it while I still have invisible licence to behave in an entirely inappropriate manner.

As expected, my Canadian Great Aunt has become terminally delayed. I have looked up her obituary on the interweb and cannot decide whether to laugh, cry or head straight for a bottle of toilet duck. It is not difficult to spell my name correctly whatever your state of bereavement, dearest Cos, and it says a great deal that you refer to both Strider and myself by all of our Christian names. Meanwhile, my other Great Aunt who lives in North Wales (and who also remains unclear as to what my name actually is) has decided that now is the perfect time to bring chaos into our world.

A trait shared by my Great Aunts and my Cos is that they are (or were) selfish, emotionally manipulative people who see nothing beyond their own desires and who have no interest in you once they have gained what they want. I almost wish that I was the kind of person who could cut them from my life and refuse to have anything to do with any of them ever again but I can’t. At the end of the day, they are my family. You do not get a choice in that matter. Just because they are idiots who can’t see past the end of their own self-righteousness, it does not mean you get to be. And besides, I may one day require their kidneys.

My other Great Aunt, it transpires, has been conned out of five thousand pounds. I say conned but I’m being generous to her. She craves attention and tries to buy it from people believing that if she gives them money, they will allow her to go and live with them. The first time she did this she gave away eleven thousand pounds to a woman who sent her begging letters along the lines of “You’re the only person we can tell about our problems… please don’t tell anybody… you are our angel… your room is nearly ready for you, honestly it is…” The second time she did this she was convinced to put her house up for sale and had a buyer all lined up. Heaven knows what would have happened if she hadn’t got cold feet at the last minute.
She lies constantly about what she is doing and who she is with. She tries to cover up what is going on and gives different stories to everybody. Once when she came to stay with us for a short holiday, she went and registered at the surgery and told them she was coming to live with us. She sometimes books taxis using my mother’s maiden name, ostensibly because the taxi firm might have problems spelling her own name. While this is possibly true a) She lives in a small place and everybody knows her, they know how to spell her name and b) The taxi firm probably has a Pole working the switchboard by now, they will definitely be able to spell her name. One might ask why she doesn’t use her own maiden name. One wouldn’t get a reply but one can ask.
To an outsider, using the wrong name could be shrugged off as old person confusion. What cannot be shrugged off as old person confusion is the time she told a checkout monkey my mother was her daughter. She knows what she is doing. She is a fantasist and a liar. She is not a stupid woman but she would like you to believe she is. She cannot go anywhere in the country without needing a trip to the local A&E department (she speaks very highly of the one in York).
I know she has problems. I understand she is old. I am sure that many of you are frowning sympathetically and wondering why I don’t go a bit easier on her, this poor widow woman with no children of her own and her nearest relatives in a foreign country. I don’t go easier on her because every effort has been made to help her. She was led by hand through the courts to try and get her eleven thousand pounds back but, despite the court order, has never received any of it and refused to take any further action on the matter.
We have tried to get her into sheltered accommodation. We have tried to get her involved with clubs and schemes and anything going. She refuses to do any of it.
My Paternal Grandmother had a stroke when I was small. She was left almost totally blind. She had to relearn to walk. She had to relearn to talk. Nevertheless, she lived in her own house until the day she died. She was forever learning new things. She began writing short stories, a number of which found publishers. She fought every inch of the way and refused to give in to whatever hand her body dealt her.
I cannot have sympathy for my Great Aunt because she has everything but refuses to see that. All she can see is what she wants and creates ways to manipulate people into giving it to her in turn being manipulated out of everything she has left.

I never believed I hated my Great Aunt, my Cousin or my late Canadian Great Aunt. I always maintained that I hated what they did rather than them. I always maintained that if they wanted nothing to do with me without first acquainting themselves with my personal set of faults then that was their prerogative. I always maintained that I would do my best to help them if they required it from me. I always felt it would be the right thing to do. Words are so often easy though, aren’t they?
For all of her tears down the fibre optic cables, my Cos has so far coped better than she was expected to. The friends she claimed not to have are rallying round and her boss has become a pillar of understanding. I hope she can continue to do so.

I do not know the woman in the obituary. My mother was never her beloved niece.
All of those times when I could have done with an adult to take a little of the weight from me and none of them gave a damn. The only times I have had contact with them is the third hand of their crisis. I do not know the woman in the obituary and I do not know her daughter. There is nothing in me that wants to.

For now there is the vague plan that Cos will come over for Christmas. She may, she may not. It will be her own decision and one which, I very much doubt, will give any consideration to my Mammy’s desire to see the closest person she has to a sister.

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