Another memory mainly before my time was when my aunts from Ireland came to visit us in California. I was two. I have one lone memory of this incident, really just a like a couple of stills from a film. I remember holding someone’s hand and crossing by the pool to the other side of the apartment complex, where my aunts were able to stay in a vacant unit for the time they were visiting. There was a sense of anticipation as we approached the door of the other apartment. I have absolutely no memory of anything else from that time period.
Why this visit sticks out in my mind is because of my mom’s memory of the visit. It was not a happy one.
For whatever reason, Dad’s sisters were not fond of my mom at the time. I don’t know if this was because of natural sisterly protectiveness or an actual dislike. Obviously, Mom was probably not the bride they would have pictured their “darling brother Pat” marrying. She was a farmer’s daughter from Tennessee with a thick southern accent that follows her to this day. Dad was a shy guy from Belfast who had been doted on by his older sisters as a kid.
Mom prides herself on making everyone like her, event difficult people. My two aunts proved to be tough cookies.
Mom tried her best to impress them by cooking for them and basically waiting on them hand and foot, but from mom’s side of the story, they were impossible to please. They didn’t like her cooking, they didn’t like the accommodations and they made it clear that they wanted to spend time with their brother alone. Mom was very hurt by their behavior, but even more so by Dad’s reaction.
He chose to take his sisters side, and not defend Mom.
Mom would tell the story about their visit many times during my childhood, and I could remember actually feeling the pain and humiliation she suffered. I think Dad did eventually apologize to Mom, but she was still bitter. I’m guessing Dad was just trying to keep everyone happy, and being surrounded by all of that estrogen was overwhelming for him!
Over the past year, my mom has reconnected with my dad’s sisters and they have been great about writing letters and talking to us on the phone. A concern for Dad brought us all closer together, making our differences and all of those miles and years apart vanish.