So we get a phone call last night from my husband’s sister Patty. Patty is not my favorite person…not a hate thing…just sort of an “ick” thing. But more about that later.
So I can hear my calm even tempered husband on the phone with her and I know he is upset. It turns out that they have found out that her oldest son Jack has testicular cancer.
Jack is about 22 and is graduating in about a month (December) from college. I guess somehow someone found a lump and then they did the biopsy and said it has to come out NOW. They don’t know if it has spread but my husband got on the internet and I guess the odds are pretty good it hasn’t. They are taking it out this afternoon and then going to send him right home where he will rest a few days. Hopefully, he can finish up college and graduate. I would think the college would help him out here. (He only is missing a few weeks till the diploma.) And maybe all will be well and he can head right back to school in a couple of days.
Jack has a younger sister Ellen (19) and a younger brother Andy (17). All three of these kids are just a little younger than ours.
So you’re probably wondering what my big regret is. Well, it’s the fact that I have been a very absent aunt to these kids even though they live about 5 minutes away.
Before they were born, I never got along well with their mother. Everyone in the family agrees she is pretty distant and quirky. She is very bossy and a big know-it-all. She is impossible to get to know in a close sort of way. She is polite enough and in a crisis she will pitch in. But she’s odd. I would not hesitate to say I was closer to her own mother (my mother-in-law) than she was.
When our oldest child was a baby, Patty never babysat for her. Never. And when our second came along, same thing. But when Jack came along, Patty was suddenly interested in swapping child care. I was not. My kids were potty trained. Hers were infants and toddlers. And by then I had lots of sitters and friends to help with sitting.
So I wasn’t around Jack or the other two much when they were little. We had some family holidays together. We used to get together on Christmas Eve and have the kids open presents from the aunts and uncles. But that was about it. We’d go over there on Thanksgiving here and there but my kids complained so we stopped. We just started having all of the holidays at our house.
In my defense, (if you want to call it that), I was very ill most of their childhood. I missed their graduations and I can’t remember going to an event of theirs like a play or anything. But I was manic when they were little and incredibly depressed as they got older. I had a hard time making it to my own kids activities let alone theirs. I seriously was sick. And I was trying to hide it most of the time. Jack’s dad was a nice enough guy, but neither he nor Patty seems to get or care that I had depression. It was lonely being around them and I was always exhausted.
I have several friends who are always going on about doing things with their nieces and nephews. How they celebrate birthdays and go to holiday dinners with them. How they have baby showers for them, bake stuff for them, and fly out of town to see them. Patty’s kids are my only nieces and nephews and I have none of that and it is by my choice. (Well, and my sick brain’s.) I’d love to have more family who was sane and have more things to do with them. I think you CAN be over involved with family where it consumes your life, but I still would like more.
I know some things are way too late. It is too late to make any childhood memories with these kids. They may hate me or think I hate them…I have no idea. They may think I am insane and psychotic and they would be right. Who knows what their mother has told them about me?
My husband and sons are going over to visit Jack on Friday to see how he is doing. I was not going to go, but I was going to send a pan of great brownies and a funny card. For some reason, I feel sort of awkward visiting a young guy with testicular cancer. I don’t know if he’d feel embarrassed or not. But my husband says to go so I think I will. I also think I’d like to make sort of a fuss somehow over his college graduation. I just don’t want him to think I am going from zero to weirdo aunt quickly. He might want me to check my meds.
I also had the thought of sending Jack a short letter explaining my illness. But I quickly squashed that as being too weird. I don’t know if he’d understand that’s why I was such a slug aunt.
Then there is the path of least resistance and doing basically nothing. I have lots of friends and a few relatives I interact with. And dealing with these kids means I’d have to deal more with my sister-in-law. Ewww.
So, dear readers, you have gotten yourselves in trouble. After the great advice you gave me regarding Lori, I’m going to ask for some more. What do you think of all this?
PS…As for Lori…out of sight, out of mind. I am feeling much better not thinking of her. I do have one small dilemma. We are having a large Christmas open house. I know John will want to invite her husband. So I may need to invite Lori. But it’s not a big deal anymore. I can do it.
your faithful blogger,