Thursday, June 08, 2017

Leopard, spots, death

Never speak ill of the dead.

She did her best.

She didn't mean to be nasty, did she?

Words soaring in my head after an older cousin died. A cousin I tried to like but couldn't. She was an only child of a "widowed" and cold mother to give you a little background. The widowed aspect was always under a cloud as our granny would always "humph" nastily when her daughter's status was mentioned. Only one picture of her father existed and it looked like it was cut out of a magazine. I remember he wore a uniform of some kind but no one could answer how he died.

She was enormously cruel to me when we were younger and even when we were older too, come to think of it.

When I was 4 and she 10, she threatened to hang me by my nose off the church railings if I didn't give her the bracelet my granny gave me. Needless to mention.....

When I was 8 and she 14, I was staying at an aunt's in the country while my mother was giving birth in the city. I felt very important as my father had written down his work number on a piece of paper so I could telephone him from the post office up the main street and he would tell me if my mother was OK and if it was a boy or girl.

She dropped by my aunt's (this aunt was a maternal aunt and no relation to her) and I proudly shared with her how I was going to make my first phone-call all by myself at the post office. She snatched the piece of paper from me and raced away only to come back about 10 minutes later and tell me I had another brother. I was inconsolable that she had stolen even this from me.

Frankly, I was always a little afraid of her. This was enforced by my mother who barely tolerated her due to her constant lies and demands on my father who was her only uncle. A parade of "suitable" men were paraded through our home when she hit 20 to be vetted by my father. She always insisted, privately to me, that she was closer to my father than I could ever hope to be. And there were other cruel little interplays with her, particularly when my mother was dying which still has the power to upset me all these years later.

Yeah, I get that she was needy and sad and alone and over compensated with braggadocio. I truly tried to like her in later years, being aware of all of this. But the last social interactions I had with her left me feeling so empty and baffled. There had been no personal growth, her conversation circled around herself, her skills, her beauty, her wardrobe, how all in her path adored her. And her remarkable lack of curiosity or compassion for others was breathtaking.

I'm left reflecting how bereft of feeling I am for her, this strange leopard and her spots that never changed.

Not even a whit of guilt.

And for that I'm glad.


  1. This makes me feel sorry. Not exactly sorry for the cousin. Sorry for the fact that she seems never to have known what it is to really live. She didn't experience the true happiness of loving others and doing for them. It was a small world in which she lived ---centered around herself. She was like a seed that never grew. Just imagine all the joy she never knew. Sad. Understandable that you feel nothing. She never radiated any warmth. So how can you reflect any?

  2. I think you're quite right to feel that way. We're almost brainwashed into believing that once a person's dead we should stop having negative thoughts about them. How silly! We don't control our emotions, and if we try it will only do us harm in the end. Earlier generations had such strange ideas, but surely we can be more enlightened now? As for your cousin, I wouldn't feel a shred of guilt. We are each responsible for our own lives and how we conduct them. If she chose to behave like a louse, that was her choice. If she were my cousin I'd dance on her grave.

  3. I had one like this
    I tried to be nice
    it did not work...

  4. I am so sorry for her and all of the pain she caused you. Sometimes people come into our lives and teach us how not to be. Perhaps that was her one gift to you.

  5. I'm left feeling a bit of affection for my older cousin who was only self-centered, also talking incessantly about her beauty and other attributes. Her self-absorption, like your cousin's, could be attributed to childhood experiences: my aunt regularly attempted suicide, making sure to do so just as this cousin was due home from school, so that my cousin could discover her and stop it in time. It's up to us what we do with our childhood traumas as we become adults and assume responsibility for ourselves. Still, she was only self-absorbed and cruel only by her lack of interest in anyone else, never cruel in the way your cousin was. Linda P.

  6. I can relate totally including not feeling any guilt as I have had a similar experience.

  7. Oh how the self-centred assholes of this world rarely realize what they are! -Kate

  8. I gather she has died? I wouldn't worry about how I felt about her, and if she is gone, then do your best to forget about her and all the pain she caused.

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  10. "She didn't mean to be nasty, did she?"
    Yes - she most certainly did! It seems to have been a way of life for her. I wonder if she inherited the tendency from some relative or ancestor. (Astrology might reveal something too.) You've been more than fair to your cousin in this bloggy obituary - probably much more fair than she ever deserved.

  11. The persistent cruelty of some people is extraordinary. It may well be based on various personal weaknesses and shortcomings and traumas, but that's no help to whoever is on the receiving end of the cruelty. Being bereft of feeling after her death is only to be expected.

  12. Doesn't sound as though you have any reason to feel guilty. An emotional disconnect from her long ago would have been in your best interests, and certainly now.

  13. I always wanted a sister when I was a child but after reading your account, I'm truly glad I didn't have one! I've a lovely brother.
    That must have seemed like a sister from Hell!
    Maggie x

  14. I felt so weird after she died (cousin, not sister), so devoid of any kind of feeling. She was truly monstrous, I see that now. I expect we are created like this - environment. My paternal granny had a lot to do with it, I know. Enormously cruel woman herself though she favoured me but even as a child I saw how she treated others and Cousin was a victim of her birth and dependency.


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  16. I don't think dying absolves anyone of anything. If she was a mean person, then that's on her.


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