Aunt Ruth Ann.


# break out of frames

	Header always append X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN



Perhaps it was last night, or the night before. All I know is, time stopped for me.
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In fact, I managed to miss the entire Smoky Mountain conflagration which, as it turned out, should have occupied my riveted attention; several old friends, who owned precious property, endured devastating loss in that fire.
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Fact is, we all endure all sorts of losses as we age. Most notably, once our parents are gone, we confront the deaths of former classmates. These really hit home. They remind us that the end of life isn’t just for the bodies that house our elderly; like the princess said in Braveheart: “Death comes to us all.”
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But, last night, or the night before, when time stopped, I was very much alive. All my senses were primed. I was teeming. And, this made what happened all the more deadly.
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Having just returned from my family reunion, planned by our eldest brother to be held over Thanksgiving, I’d begun decompressing and trying to process what felt like a thousand emotions. This seemed best accomplished by getting the two hundred plus photos off of my phone and uploaded onto Facebook, so the family could finally have them.
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But, what a chore. A task. Normally one I enjoyed, being an amateur photog and a rather developed visual artist, this time the cognitive dissonance clawed through my psyche like a blade across glass.
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I’d been invited to Kentucky by the brother who lived there. He was determined to bring our family, fractured since mum’s death and apart since dad’s, into the same room. He was also desirous that we all see his masterpiece, the new home into which his family had finally moved after selling the one they’d occupied for several years right next door. A PhD in Chemistry, he’d spent his professional life as a medical lab director, but his real love was construction and he’d built this house from scratch.
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At first, I balked; a professional musician, I’d been asked again to perform continuo for yet another Bach Cantata which, according to its rehearsal schedule, conflicted with any trip south for the holiday. But, there was a new baby in the family, one whose adorable face I had seen so many times in the Feed. And, my niece and her husband would be driving all the way from Florida to be with everyone. In all likelihood, I would have only this one chance to see and hold the child before her precious years were relinquished; so, when a suitable, qualified sub became available, I booked a flight.
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As the weeks went by, I knew in my heart that seeing this baby would not be my singular focus, nor would my presence there be the reason anybody else in the family would have made the trip. I knew that I, among the nearly twenty guests in that house, would probably be the least welcome. I was the one nobody really knew.
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From childhood, I had been relegated to the role of female in a sectarian, patriarchal belief system which rendered our family fraught by a power structure which would upend my ability to find any place in the larger society. For every freedom my brothers enjoyed, I had a restriction imposed. My life choices, once I had finally come of age, were made with very great and radical defiance – even if, to the majority of civilized people, these were nothing more than the decision to pursue higher education and live independently. But, guilt and fear, borne in me by the patriarchs’ dogma, ruled my motivation matrix; I remained close to my parents, studying at a university only an hour from home and taking employment within the school district which had raised our entire family.
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My brothers had both long since left town. They had each established homes and families several states south. Their autonomy from our parents seemed complete. It would take our mother’s death for me to discover how dependent upon her support they had actually been over the years; in truth, though I lived a mere ten minutes away and my sphere of influence seemed small, I had without realizing it the greater degree of independence.
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But, to offset my independence both from the family and the system in which I was raised, and to prove to my mother that I was not the lazy and worthless child who refused to lift a hand to help her around the house, I became a workaholic. Seven days a week, from September to June, I worked. Apart from the scant fifteen minutes the orchestra took to break during rehearsal, I had no social life; following the Saturday night band competitions and concerts, when Sunday came my voice was so tired I’d spend the entire day mute, resting it for the onslaught ahead. (And, the first three weeks of summer were the cumulative version of a Sunday off; decompression was the game, played alone.) Beginning in August already, I taught competitive marching band; then, choir, chorus, strings, stage band, and private lessons from one end of the county to the other; and, then, packed my cello and drove to symphonic rehearsal four nights out of seven twice per month and again for the pops weekend. I had no time at all for any human beings on earth, unless they were part of my days and evenings at work.
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My eldest brother married, divorced, married again. His children were born. I was rebuked for my alleged, rumored lifestyle as he folded diapers, reduced to tears, leaving their home never to visit again apart from family birthdays. When they moved west, I was absent from their lives.
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My younger brother finally married, age 31. His children were born. As both brothers each moved their families hither and yon, from Arizona to the Bahamas to the Carolinas, I was not there. I was working.
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Several of the photos were just awful. The baby would not smile. Not for me. (Granted, her mother was bedridden with a familial migraine.) But, neither would anybody else. The body language of my family screamed the enmity they felt in my presence.
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Yes. There had been, as mum used to call it, “words.” We’d had our “words”, over the years. Most of mine had occurred in bursts, my being backed into a psychic corner by crushing ridicule, passive aggressive slander, embodying the butt of every sly joke, the subject of every snicker, the unblinking, staring scowl of every boy child and girl who had been taught to revile the aunt who was never there.
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When finally ready to post the photos, I chose to couch them in what I thought was an uproariously hilarious montage of parody, using the most distorted images among them and captioning each with what I was sure would lend levity to our miserable inability to just accept each other.
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My timing couldn’t have been worse. What ensued was a backlash from one nephew which caused me to recoil in horror. I’d had neither any earthly idea he felt such contempt for me, nor that he would choose to become the second family member to condemn me publicly.
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The Bible warns us to honor our father and mother, so that our days may be long on the earth. Three psychics have independently offered, unprovoked, that the world will be stuck with me for quite awhile. My parents, in the omniscience of Abraham’s bosom, now know how desperately I loved them both. They know how helplessly I endured inexpressible love for my brothers’ children. And, they know how I have tried since to carry on without a family of my own.
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I just hope that you, dear reader, can find it in yours to forgive my long winded, self absorbed, “unrepentant”, as my nephew David intoned, “hard heart”. Though he warns me that I may very well die alone, when time finally truly stops for me he may be surprised to know that all the fires in my life will at last be quenched and the blessing of solitude will grace me indefinably.
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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   11/30/16     All rights reserved. Write your own story. I double dog dare ya.  Thanks.
littlebarefeetblog.com
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7 thoughts on “Aunt Ruth Ann.

  1. Brilliant! What a woman! I so dig your style. Try not to worry too much about family, one can only work with “what we got” relationships are botched and sticky taped together somehow we call in Love ❤ 😉 XX

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  2. I love this so very much…………just sorry I didn’t see the pictures that caused such a stir. You can pick your friends, but not your family.
    I have been dealing with a situation since April with my older sister. The fact that someone at almost 60 years of age can “hang up” on me on the telephone because she didn’t like my response to something, tells me this goes way deeper than that one conversation. So, I have chosen not to dwell on it at all – and my dealing with it means ignoring it completely. I reached out immediately and asked to “do lunch” so we could “clear the air,” and got no response. Life is too short and I’m not about any drama. Just living my life.

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  3. Karen, just knowing I have ONE friend who totally understands alleviates so much of the burden of all this. It doesn’t fix it, make it go away, or make any sense of it, but it surely reassures me that I am not insane. And, that, for me, is Job #1! Plus, I know YOU to be a warm, genuine, open, honest, and much admired/loved woman, so I am also encouraged to be in solid, good company! My back is out, and I have been given strict orders to rest and ice it all day, so my activity in the sitting position will be curtailed. Hope you can come to Saturday’s ECO concert at the Covenant? Andrew conducts; Kate sings; and, Becky Ryan’s choir does Rutter. Sounds wondrous, eh? I’d love to see you. HUGS!

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