This doesn’t have much to do with drinking, but coming after the story of my father’s tragic sister, it seems to fit. And it does have to do with my story and how I grew up. Another problem with moving in sobriety, the way I did, is that I forget that here, for example, leads are 45 minutes long. I’m used to the shorter ones and not throwing everything in. This blog lead, of course, can go on for as long as I live and write.
I wasn’t aware of this situation until I was an older teenager. There was my grandfather, who was living, and his brother, the one who may have caused the death of the child in a car accident. That was all I knew, but I found out that they had a sister, and this sister was living, in that very building.
The building was a small apartment building with stores on the ground floor and apartments upstairs. The three apartments that I had been in were large, I think, or maybe I was just small. My father’s sister (my aunt), her husband and four children lived in one. My great uncle, possible accident causer, lived in another. My grandparents lived in another, and after my grandmother died, my grandfather lived there by himself, though across the hall from my aunt and well, you get the picture (I hope). Other apartments were inhabited by tenants and one, apparently, by my great aunt.
The story was that when she was a little girl of about seven, my great aunt fell into a well and broke her leg. Her mother, my great-grandmother, being very religious and more than a little crazy did not seek medical attention. The leg healed incorrectly, and the girl was kept inside her entire life because is was something shameful to have a limp. By the time my cousins found out about her, the story was that she had mental retardation. At that point they allowed the cousins to interact with her some, and they said that she seemed to learn things very quickly and maybe hadn’t had mental retardation, but was obviously in a very impoverished environment. For her whole life. When I was in my 30s, my great uncle told my mother that his sister had died.
She never left that building.
Several stray facts to go along with this story. My grandfather, after my grandmother died, never left the building either, except once or twice to be taken to the hospital. My great-grandmother told my aunts that if they attended the wedding of my parents, they would burn in hell, because it was at a Protestant church. My great uncle married but never had children. At least two of my cousins from that side have been to AA. One of the ground level floors of that building used to house a bar that my grandparents owned. An aunt or uncle once told me that some of them believe that it was while working at the bar as a teenager that my father started drinking and became hooked.