My story is that of my relative, my great aunt to be specific.
She falls into the category of “the relative that everyone puts up with.”
She’s a nearly 70 year old spinster, which is the subject of much of her
bitterness. While I won’t go into every last detail, I will provide you with a
list of the various annoyances she has committed in recent years.
Incident #1: I split up with my boyfriend of 2 and ½ years in
April of 2005. It was not ugly, just with the realization that we were trying to
put gas in a broken down car that was our relationship. I was 20 at the time and
was ready to enjoy my freedom of going out with my friends, flirting, and just
enjoying life. I dated occasionally, but nothing serious, as I was in college
and needed to pay more attention to that.
Well, in the spring of 2006, my great aunt had decided that I
was unhappy without a boyfriend, so she approached my mother and handed her a
list of Catholic dating web sites that I should join in order to find a
boyfriend, settle down, and get married. My mother, being the classy lady that
she is, simply said that she would tell me about it ( I wasn’t there at the
time) and left it at that. When I did find out, my mother was rather amused at
the whole thing, while I was furious. My mother has always let me live my own
life, and the one area where she never even set an eyelash in was my
relationships, which was big of her because the previous boys I had dated,
including the long term one, left a lot to be desired. I was furious because it
was none of this woman’s business nor was it right of her to put my mother in
I thanked my mother for telling me, then drove to my great
aunt’s house and, while struggling to keep a civil tone, informed her that she
in no uncertain terms had no business interfering with my love life, lack
thereof or not. I also expressed discern at her audacity to put my mother in
that situation. Her defense was that my mother was married at 20, and since I
was almost 21 I should get cracking. Note: my parents are still happily married
24 years later, but my mother said that she had wished she would have gone to
school at 20 rather than 40, but that she wouldn’t trade us or my dad for
anything. I explained to her that this was not the 1950’s and while I
wanted to marry and raise a family someday, but that this was not the time. This
was responded with, “Well then you can marry Jack the f---ing Ripper for all I
care”, upon which I promptly left her house.
Incident #2: About three weeks ago, my family was gathered for
brunch at my parents’ house (I live there but was not present at the time).
This great aunt was going on and on about how much she loved having
“Matthew”, one of my 6 year old cousins, over at her house while his parents
are working from time to time. At this point, one of my mother’s sisters, who
had two children similar in age to “Matthew” asked if she would mind keeping
her two well-mannered (I can attest to this, they are two of the most
well-behaved and self-entertaining children I know) children for an hour or two
while she went to a meeting. The great aunt promptly turned to her and said,
“I don’t baby-sit and you know it.”
Incident #3: This was the final straw for me. I should point
out that at this point I have met the love of my life, and we are in the
beginning stages of planning our life together. I am a lifelong practicing
Catholic, but in light of circumstances surrounding my boyfriend (he’s
Methodist and a divorcee), there is the possibility that I will have to change
practices so that we can marry. HOWEVER, none of our decisions about being
married have left the two of our mouths except in discussion with each other.
Also, while it is a difficult decision, I am willing to make those changes so
that we may be married.
A few weeks ago I was at work feeling devastated because it
looked like my best friend of 13 years and I were calling it quits (we have
since patched things up). This woman chose that day to call me at work to chat,
and when told I didn’t really have the capacity to talk, she pried until I
told I was upset because someone I was very close to was probably not going to
be in my life anymore. After prying some more, I told her who, and all she said
was “D-----, you got my hopes up. I wanted it to be “Patrick.”” I was
speechless, and then she went into a rant about no one was going to accept it
*when* we got married and I was a horrible Catholic and I was going to be
excommunicated and it was the biggest mistake of my life and on and on and on
until I interrupted and said, “Number 1, I don’t have a ring on my finger,
and 2, how is this any of your business?” She stated that it was only a matter
of time, I was marrying him just so I wouldn’t be all alone, and it was her
business because it was her duty as a Catholic to tell me what a mistake I am
making and what an insult I am to the Catholic church. I told her (which would
probably get me sent into ehell myself) that she was an old maid, irritated that
I had found the one I was going to marry, that she was an old maid and it was
none of her business, and that “Patrick” had done absolutely nothing to her
to warrant her rudeness towards him (she ignores him when he says hello, brushes
him off when he’s speaking, etc.) and that I never wanted to see that uncalled
for and childish behavior that she was exhibiting. When I fought back, she
tried to play it sweet and said she was just looking out for me when I told her
I was busy and hung up.
Maybe I’m the rotten one for speaking to her like that, but
I truly felt that this was none of her business, and I am 22, a grown woman, and
NOT her child.
So SIL's b-day rolls around, and she just *has* to go to
dinner with DH, me, MIL and a friend. She lives about an hour and a half away in
another city, but wanted to come home and get her hair done and stuff with her
mom that day before dinner. Plans were made earlier in the week and we were to
meet up with them at a certain restaurant downtown, where DH and I live, at 6:00 (MIL
lives about 25 minutes further east in the 'burbs). All
Well DH and I get to restaurant A on time, go sit down and get
a slightly larger table, as 3 others will be joining us. So we decide to just
get water and wait. Well we wait for another 15 min before we finally call them
to see where they are. They're running late and on their way. Why they didn't
think to call us earlier and let us know is beyond me. We were literally 5
minutes from all the restaurants downtown, and they know this.
Well she then tells DH that she's changed her mind and she
wants to go to restaurant B, can we meet them there? DH and I grit our teeth,
leave restaurant A and go to B. We find out there's a slight wait. We call them.
That's no good. So DH and I go to our car and park while SIL figures out where
she wants to eat (they're still headed downtown at this
point). She finally decides on this new restaurant, C, that she wants to eat at.
DH and I go there, there's no wait and we put our names in.
At this point it's been a good 30-40 min from when we were
initially supposed to eat. Lovely. They finally get there, offer no apology and
we go in and eat. Again, DH and I are smiling through our teeth as apparently it
is ok to plan a b-day dinner and then completely change things last minute with
no consideration for everyone else. Again, we live 5 minutes from all these
restaurants and would have been perfectly content waiting at home until they
decided. The kicker? SIL is leaving back to the city after dinner,
and MIL and SIL CAME IN THE SAME CAR!! Of course SIL needs to get back
home, so now DH has to drive MIL home, a good forty minute
round trip. Thanks guys! What a lovely evening and Happy freaking Birthday. I
know it's your day and all, but please, have some consideration for
My parents I'm sure mean well but there is a reason I don't
live anywhere near them - they are crazy and totally oblivious. To give a quick
background, my mother has become so disconnected from the world that she rarely
leaves our house/yard and is totally out of touch. My father is very sociable
but totally inconsiderate at home - has never lifted a finger, always makes a
mess and don't seem to notice. I could go on...
I just had my first baby 3 weeks ago (their first grandchild)
and they insisted on coming up immediately to visit even though I thought I made
it clear that it would likely be a stressful time for us to have company. They
came anyway, literally arriving at our house 10 min after we got home from the
In my opinion, if you are visiting anyone with a new baby, you
bring food and you try to assist in any way possible - diapers, cleaning house,
cooking, holding the baby, anything. They brought bagels from NY. Ok, very nice,
but not really gonna get me far in terms of meals. My dad told us, as if this
was the greatest gift of all, that he would (gasp!) cut them all in half for us!
Well, that alone deserves best present ever... riiiight, except for the fact
that he did it on the counter, and didn't bother to clean up the millions of
seeds left behind. He also tracked mud all over our house and when I pointed it
out to him, instead of cleaning it up, he responded with "did I do
that?" and didn't even move a muscle, but kept right on eating food we
ordered in, despite the fact that I hadn't even sat down to eat yet!
My mom, did not make any mess but mentally drove us batty. She
followed me and my husband around the house firing off random questions at us
like when did we get that painting, and who's that person in the picture on the
fridge, and how far is the hospital from our house. All this while our baby is
screaming in my arms since she had yet to properly nurse (ps, still having
breastfeeding problems). She also (as usual) refused to decide on what she
wanted to eat for dinner when we decided to order food even though we were
starving and again, have a screaming newborn on our hands.
After dinner, they both just dumped their dishes in the sink,
even though we have a dishwasher, and left! Left!!! Left me and my husband with
seeds and mud and dishes to clean up! with a newborn!
It was almost surreal how awful their visit was. The only good
thing they did was hold the baby (while she slept) for us so we could get a one
hour nap in. They finally left after 6 hours (!). The next day my dad called me
at 9am to ask if they could come over again and I said no, since we hadn't slept
all night and I didn't need to clean up after them again. He was disappointed -
I understand since they drove 4.5 hours to visit, but this was precisely why I
told them *not* to come over right away. I kid you not, my dad called again 1
hour later and asked if I was sure they wouldn't come over. Did he think I
suddenly got a bunch of sleep in that hour?
As a side note to this story, they stayed with my dad's
brother and family who live about 20 min away from us. According to my aunt,
they did the same at her house. My dad tracked mud everywhere and didn't take
off his shoes when she mentioned it to him. My mom kept my aunt up until 1:30am
talking to her, even though she was exhausted after having spent the day at the
vet with their dog who was very ill. My aunt, btw, has come over numerous times,
brought us several meals, changed diapers, held the baby for me and told me go
take a nap, etc. I mentioned to my mom that my aunt had brought us meals and how
helpful it was, and she did not get the hint. And I reiterate, they wonder why I
moved 3 states away...
Here's just one of the many stories I could tell about my MIL:
I'm lactose intolerant. As those who suffer from this allergy
know, while this condition is not life-threatening, like some other allergies,
it can still make the sufferer quite sick if they eat milk products. Because of
this, I'm careful to let people know of my allergy if they invite us for dinner,
as I've always been taught is prudent.
So of course, I'd told my MIL that I cannot have milk
products. Once, she invited me and my husband over for dinner. When I got there,
I found out that she was cooking a French dish that is cream-based. I figured
that she had just forgotten about my allergy, and told that while the food look
delicious, I was sorry, but I would be able to eat it, due to my allergy.
"Yeah, but I only put half the amount of cream in,"
she protested. "I remembered what you said about not being able to have
milk, so I reduced the amount."
Well, as anyone with allergies knows, it doesn't matter if you
eat two tablespoons of what you're allergic to or three cups of it--allergic is
"I'm sorry," I replied, "but I can't eat milk
at all. It will make me sick."
She got upset, and kept insisting that it was "only a
little bit" and couldn't I eat some?
I did my best to stay polite, but had to refuse. Sure, I COULD
eat some, but then...well, to avoid getting too graphic, let's just say that I'd
end up spending the rest of the night in the bathroom.
That's when she got all huffy, acted like I was just being
difficult for kicks, and basically started slamming around in the kitchen in
some adult version of a tantrum. I ended up having to eat a tuna sandwich (I
made it myself) while everyone else ate pasta in gourmet sauce. Now, if my
husband and I had just dropped in on MIL unexpectedly without being invited, I
wouldn't have been upset by this. If my MIL had forgotten that I'm lactose
intolerant, then no problem, mistakes happen. But to invite someone over for
dinner and then purposely make something that you know they can't eat because of
allergies, try to force them to eat it, and then to get ticked off and act like
they're the one being difficult when they can't is rude.
My grandparents like to travel a lot, so after they retired,
they sold their huge house, bought a trailer in an upscale retirement park (yes,
there is such a thing) and bought an RV so that they could be on the road six
months out of the year. Even though they had their "home" model
trailer, they asked if they could park on our property for "a few day"
so that they could visit.
As you can probably guess, "a few days" turned into
almost six months. They hooked their TV up to our cable (for free). When they
ran the cable line inside our house, they had to take off a storm window to do
it. They didn't bother to put the window back, and my sister fell on it and got
a horrible puncture wound to the back of her leg. It was so severe that she
required eleven stitches, and has a horrendous arrow-shaped scar to this day. No
apology...grr. They then demanded a key, and trooped in and out of our house at
all hours to use our bathroom, do laundry, take showers, etc. Not once did they
chip in for these free utilities. They also wore their shoes all through our
house, even after my mother repeatedly asked them not to. As a result, the
carpets were nearly destroyed. They felt entitled to help themselves to our
food, etc, whenever they felt like it. So sometimes the leftovers my mom was
planning to serve for dinner than night would disappear, and she'd have to throw
Since they didn't believe in "wasting water", they
wouldn't flush the toilet unless it had...uhhh....solid waste in it. So urine
would sit in there, sometimes for days, until someone else would flush it. You
can just imagine the smell. And not once did they clean that toilet, even though
they used it every day. I seriously have never since seen such a disgusting
toilet in my life. The bowl was literally BLACK, and it looked like it had
seaweed in it. I'm not kidding. That's how disgusting it was.
Finally, after six months (I know, what took so long?), my
mother had enough, and told my dad that if he didn't get rid of his parents, she
was going to take matters into her own hands. My mom may be less than five feet
tall, but you don't mess with her. I'm not even sure what exactly she would have
done, but trust me, you don't want to find out! She doesn't make idle threats.
However, my grandma got very huffy and wrote my mother a poison pen letter about
what a horrible daughter-in-law she was. At this point, my mom didn't care--she
was just happy that they were going. As a positive note, my parents grew some
backbone, and my grandparents were never permitted to stay on our property ever
My family takes punctuality so seriously that I engage in a
syndrome my husband calls "Can't be late for being early." His family
has been known to wait until Tuesday of Thanksgiving week to decide what they
might like to do, while my mother has been known to have me reserve a date for
something they're planning a year in advance.
So after five (six?) years and three colleges, my husband's
only nephew is FINALLY graduating from a large university that ALWAYS holds its
graduations on Mother's Day. (I'm sorry ... that's really wrong. Isn't it?) The
ceremony is always held in the large football stadium, and in this state in
mid-May, it's always HUMID by 9 a.m. Don't even get me started on the ants or
the absence of university vendors who could make a killing on vending cold
bottled water and university visors and fans.
Sorry. Tangential rant over.
So, husband's only nephew is graduating. First, it takes quite
a bit of doing to convince my husband that we should BE THERE. Then, it takes a
week of dedicated nagging to persuade him to telephone either his brother (the
proud father) or his mom to FIND OUT what's going on.
Finally, he calls his mother four days before the graduation,
and she kind of sort of thinks that they might think about meeting up at the
grad's dad's house after graduation.
The dad, my husband's brother, apparently gets wind of this.
At 10:30 p.m. on the Thursday before this graduation, he
telephones. It takes half an hour of phone conversation, with my husband in his
laid-back fashion agrees to what sounds like some half-*ssed plan, before he
hangs up and I find out what's going on.
Because the Mama has hip problems, they're going to sit in the
handicapped section. We should "find them" (red flag #1). After
graduation, they've made reservations for lunch at a nice restaurant in town.
Oh! Terrific! Someone actually made some plans! Er, no. Sister-in-law did indeed
make the reservation a year in advance (which is what I would have done, too,
for a university town on Mother's Day!!) .... but no one, not then or since,
ever thought to call the grad's dad's only brother and ask if we might be
interested in attending either the graduation or the lunch afterward. Red flag
I can see it now: We arrive at the graduation two hours early
in hopes of finding some parking within the town limits, sit and roast through
two hours of waiting and a three-hour outdoor graduation for 2,000 graduates,
AND GO BACK HOME ... having never succeeded in finding the rest of the family in
the large football stadium with 12 entrances and holding 10,000 people.
With all the diplomacy I can muster (not much), I mention to
my husband that it might be a little hard to determine what the "main North
entrance" of this stadium might be, especially as neither one has happened
to have been in the stadium in a decade or so.
His response? "Hey. I don't even want to go." His
only nephew and he's only got three such nieces/nephews in the whole
In our mid to late thirties, my husband had a chance to go back
into the military. It was something that he really wanted to do - even though we
would be moving almost a thousand miles away from the extended family. Note - we
had gotten out of the military when DD was 18 months old and moved back to Old
Hometown with her to be closer to family and find new jobs after a series of
The BIL had a little girl three months older than DD and they
added a nephew some three years down the road. SIL had a girl two years younger
than DD and a second little girl a year later. So they had five grandkids within
about five years of each other's ages and they all lived in Old Hometown. This
happy state of affairs continued until just after the two older girls turned
eight. Yeah - that military move took their son and his family away from Old
We moved - a year later I discovered that there was going to
be another grandbaby! They were aghast...........they were too old to be
grandparents again! (Note - we were 36 and 40, the Ils were in their early
sixties. They had grandkids ranging from 9 to 4.5 when DS was born.......)
I quote "you had *DS* ten years too late!" MIL said
this in front of her son and the granddaughter who was about to have a little
Some time later, she looked at me and asked how *this
grandkid* could be ten years too late when NONE of their other grandkids were
ten years old yet?
Even a fourth grader noticed how the math worked out........
My husband and I went through a financial crisis and health
issues that nearly bankrupted us, leaving our credit in ruins. My greedy
brother-in-law called one day and asked for my husband's social security number.
He wanted to "borrow" my husband's identity in order to receive
financial assistance and free housing. I gave him the telling off of a
lifetime. I wanted to do more, but out of respect for my husband, I
behaved rather well, all things considering.
My maternal side of the family is a little dysfunctional to
say the least, and it's all because of my grandfather. My mother and her father
have had a slowly degrading relationship for as long as I can remember,
officially becoming fully estranged about three years ago when my mother was
diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother is the type to quietly shoulder
burdens without complaint, but finally decided that it was time to tell my
grandparents what was going on with her health. She was a couple months
into chemotherapy when she arrived at their home with a shiny bald head covered
with a scarf. When she walked in, my grandfather said nothing and wholly
ignored her obvious condition in favor of complaining about how no one in the
family called him when he was diagnosed with "elevated calcium levels"
that I later found were common in the elderly. My grandmother has
Alzheimer's and even though she repeatedly asked my mother why she had chosen
such an awful haircut, my grandfather said nothing to address her condition.
I have never been close with my grandparents and hadn't seen them in four years
before that incident. My grandfather is a difficult man, which is why I
have chosen to avoid him where possible. This is the man who told me at
the age of nine that he would love me more if I were white. My family is
Mexican. I should also note that my mother is his eldest child, and I am
my mother's eldest child.
About 16 years ago, my Cousin N, four years my senior, found
herself pregnant at the age of 15. My grandfather was Extremely
Disappointed in her and wrote her a vile letter condemning her for her sinful
premarital sex and bringing shame on his family. It is my understanding
that his berating continued for the duration of her pregnancy in the form of
notes and phone calls to both my cousin and her mother, my Aunt D. My aunt
and my cousin somehow found it within them to forgive, and they are now my
grandparent's primary caregivers (aside from my grandmother's nurse a few days a
week) and they to everything for them from managing their finances to cleaning
their home. A couple years after that, my Cousin B found herself in the
same delicate situation, and my grandfather gave her the same berating,
extending it to her father, my only uncle. Before this incident, my uncle
was the favored of my grandfather's children because he was the only son.
Now, my mother is the favored one because my sister and I are the eldest
grandchildren who have not brought "shame" onto the family. I
find this whole hierarchy business completely absurd, especially since I have
not spoken to him in several years and my other cousins do more for him than I
Fast forward to one month ago. My grandfather's brother,
"Uncle E," with whom my mother and sister and I are close to (we keep
in contact with letter writing and the occasional visit), invited us to a family
reunion that his "branch" of the family was having. Due to
scheduling on all our parts, we were unable to attend, but it came down through
the grapevine that my grandfather got wind of the reunion and invited himself,
even though he was deliberately not invited, simply because he is the oldest of
the brothers and thinks that offers a position of immediate respect, regardless
of the disrespectful way he treats others. He called my Aunt D, my
mother's younger sister, and told her that he would have a ride home from the
reunion, but that he would need a ride there. Aunt D said that my Cousin N
offered to drive him. He told her that was not acceptable, that my Aunt
would need to call my mother and *tell* her to *tell* me to drive him, and if I
couldn't do it to *tell* my sister to drive him, and if she was unable, *then*
my Cousin N would have the honor. Luckily my Cousin N is a good woman and
she does not blame us for my grandfather's behavior. She passed on the
opportunity to play chauffeur. I have no idea whom the honor was bestowed
Page Last Updated September 18, 2008