My mother’s sister, Gayle, is the oldest of three kids and has a streak for wanting everything her way. If she doesn’t, she’ll go into tantrums that rivals most toddlers. Needless to say, this has put the brakes on numerous Thanksgiving dinners, family vacations, birthday parties, and other family events over the years. I am the target in this story however.
In July of this year, my mom organized a girls getaway which all the girls on her dad’s side of the family would send the weekend together since we haven’t had a family reunion in years, we were all in different stages of life (college, new professional, new mom, retired, etc), and it would be great to reconnect without having to accommodate the guys. My mom emphasized very heavily that only the girls were allowed to attend this weekend but there was some leniency granted to two of my cousins because they were still nursing.
My mother picked a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom fully furnished rental house (my “bed” was one of the sofas in the living room) in a large city two hours away for the 13 people that would attend the weekend event because she wanted a casual family atmosphere as opposed to everyone going off to do whatever. (And I will say it was very nice. All the rooms were decorated, the pantry was stocked with things you might overlook while packing for a long vacation, the living room had a 72″ flat screen TV with an Xbox and a large DVD collection.)
The first night (Friday night) was uneventful. After several hours of driving, everyone just wanted to find their bed and sleep.
Saturday was spent shopping. I spent most of the day with my cousins Tara, Gayle’s oldest daughter, and Tamara, my uncle’s daughter. Saturday night we had a pool party complete with food, tropical drinks, and desserts. We stay up late (about 2 in the morning) eating and drinking around the pool deck.
The only plan for Sunday was to lounge around and talk… at least that was plan. Sunday morning 6am, I awake up to what can only be described (by me) as a fire alarm. It’s Gayle. “Wake up! Wake up! Time for church!” Now I was raised to never miss church (yet I find that Sunday mornings are the best day to sleep in) but this threw me off. Growing up, church and vacation never went together. If you went or are on vacation, it was understandable that you won’t make it to church that week. Plus we were in a city that none of lived in so what’s this church she speaks out?
In my groggy state, I hear tell me to put in her DVD. She hands me a DVD and again tells me to put in her DVD. I look at DVD and information on the disc states that it was video recording of a message that was taped in 2007. As I’m trying to get out of my groggy, rudely awaken, “wtf is going on” state, Aunt Gayle throws a book at me and demands to know why I’m not listening to her. That woke me up. I stare at her, reply “I’m ignoring you” (not that I was before but after the book throw, I did not feel any obligation to help her), hand the DVD over to my cousin Monica (who proceeds to fumble with the TV and DVD player in the living room to put the stupid DVD in), and get my stuff to get dress because there is no way I can go to sleep after that.
As I’m getting dressed, I get confronted by both by mother and my cousin Tamara to apologize for hurting her feelings. That I should have answered her and did what she asked. When I told them about the book throw, they insisted that even though she was wrong, I should apologize because she is really upset. I didn’t. I’m sorry. I can deal with children throwing things to get someone’s attention but a woman in her mid-50s throwing things because someone isn’t moving quick enough is inexcusable. And to then rant to both your sister and your niece about the incident like you were completely innocent is even more sickening. (No one watched the DVD by the ways. She tried watching. Anyways…
My brother lives a couple minutes away from the rental house so he drops by Sunday night to hang out “with the laaaadieees” for awhile. Most of the family hasn’t seen him in years so they are thrilled that he would drop by for a moment. He ends up staying for a few hours. Long enough to update everyone on his whereabouts, career plans, watch a movie, play several card and board games, and have dinner with us. He leaves around midnight.
Monday morning, all the girls have breakfast, everyone packs up, and everyone leaves by noon. My mom and I decided to stay in town for an extra day. Shopping of course.
As we’re shopping, mom gets a call from Aunt Gayle… and she is livid.
#1: She was upset that nothing was planned for the weekend. There should have been an actual agenda. She was bored the whole weekend. The plan was to interact with each other, not be entertained by an outside source. And not surprised with the boredom. She’s the type of house guest that expects to be entertained the whole time even if she’s been there hundreds of times. Grandma hates it when she decides to “just drop by” because she expects grandma to drop everything she has planned for that day to entertain her.
#2: She’s angry that my brother dropped by and then would not leave. “It was a girl’s weekend so he had no right to come over.” (Okay, she’s right. Girls’ weekend. He should have stayed home.)
#3: She hated the pool party. She doesn’t swim, she hated the food options, she hated the decoration, and she thought alcoholic drinks were inappropriate for the event (We asked what she wanted for the party, she said it didn’t matter so we got food that was typical for a party. When I brought up the idea of decorating for the pool party, she immediately said that she hates Hawaiian themed parties which made decorating pretty difficult. Eventually I gave up and did a Caribbean theme which looked a little Hawaiian but everyone else loved it. I still think it’s weird that she would hate the Hawaiian theme yet she went to Hawaii for her honeymoon and has gone to several Caribbean cruises over the years. And all of the drinks at the party were non-alcoholic. We didn’t want the new moms to feel out of place. She was the only one that didn’t get in the water because she was too fat for a swimsuit. She wasn’t only that didn’t swim but no big deal.)
#4: She’s livid because not only did I ignore her but that I was telling lies about her. She did not throw anything at me and she is appalled that I would make up such a lie. Her side of the story is that she asked me politely to put the DVD in, I rolled my eyes, said “I’m ignoring you”, and handed the DVD to someone else. (I could have made an eye rolling movement while trying to wake up but I don’t know what I look like when I’m in that state so who knows.)
She then demanded that I apologize to her both for ignoring her and for lying about her. “I’m an adult and she is a child.” She then tells my mom that she has supported all these years but not anymore. She is done with me.
I told my mom that I refuse to apologize for something I did not do. She’s the one that’s acting like a baby, she’s the one that started ranting about me to other people instead of talking to me directly (which weakens her defense in my opinion), and she called me a child which set me off. I’m 26 years old, I took time off work, I paid my share to participate in this weekend event, I drove there, and I paid for my share while I was there (food, drinks, snacks, etc). Maybe to her I’m a child but money talks and I am not a child.
I then raised the question of what support did she give me. She never attended any of my graduations (high school or college). She never gave me anything, not even words of encouragement, when I was in college. When I got fired from my job last year and was struggling to pay bills while job searching, I had several people help me out. She wasn’t one of them. She had her “own problems to deal with”. She then went on a cruise with her boyfriend. Pretty bad timing in my book.
I have no real interaction with my dad’s family so I spend a lot of time with my mom’s family. Why would I start anything with the side of the family I actually like? And she writes me off over a DVD. She didn’t leave her husband until he cheated for the 4th time which resulted in a child. Her son did 5 years in prison total for several things and she still contends that he’s a good person. Her best friend stole a large sum of money from her bank account and ruined her credit with a slew of credit card purchases but she still talks to her. I’ve brushed off years of nasty comments her daughters have said regarding me. But I hesitate to put in a video and she’s done. Really? Seriously.
It’s been over a month since the girls’ weekend and Aunt Gayle has yet to talk to my mom since the rant phone call but has ranted to grandma twice since then. My mom says that that is pretty typical. Mom has been on the receiving end of many of her sister’s rants. “The littlest thing will set her off.” Usually something will happen that she takes as a slight to her, she’s go into a tantrum and rant to whoever will listen to boost her ego, then she’ll call a couple months later when everyone else has moved on to demand an apology through force. “The whole process is very draining. She expects everything to go according to the plan that’s in her head and when people don’t obey, she gets very upset even if the slight was unintentional. She always believes she’s right for whatever justifiable reason in her head. And she will demand apology for the wrong but that will resolve nothing. She will expect you to apologize over and over and over and over for went wrong. But if she does something wrong, oh well. Life goes on.”
I’m looking forward to Aunt Gayle calling me. 0831-11
The few comments I’m going to make at this time pertain to the OP’s expectation that she is entitled to other people’s money when she was financially struggling. Aunt Gayle owes the OP nothing in terms of money. What Aunt Gayle does with her money is none of the OP’s business. One cannot demand respect as an adult by claiming that contributing one’s own monetary share of the weekend getaway qualifies as adult behavior but then somehow have an expectation that an adult should expect financial help in times of difficulty.
There is a whole lot of history to this relationship that predates the weekend getaway incident.