Aunt Grace lost her driver’s license.
Another uncommon quirk about Aunt Grace was that she was always in a hurry to go somewhere. This may not seem that unusual on the surface. The strange part was that once she got where she was going, she was always in a hurry to leave. For example, a couple times a year Aunt Grace would make the one hour drive up north to the cabin during the off season when it was all closed down. She would get there, look at the cabin from inside of her car, see that it did not burn down over winter, then turn around and drive back home.
There were countless times that this happened. The biggest example that I can give you was when we went on the trip to South Dakota. Aunt Grace signed up for women’s church conference. My mom, dad, Luke, and I accompanied her on this trip in her small car. Thankfully my dad did all of the driving!
When we got to the conference, Aunt Grace checked in and received her conference bag. Then we looked around the conference hall, left, and didn’t come back. I convinced Aunt Grace to go to a water park 2 hours away. Once we got there, Aunt Grace asked for a tour of the water park. I saw lots of kids having fun and couldn’t wait to go. After the tour was done, Aunt Grace said that I saw the water park and that it was time to go. I cried and begged her to be able to go. She didn’t seem to understand. She said that it was time for lunch instead. I refused to eat. I stayed in the car. Aunt Grace was upset that I didn’t eat and called me an ungrateful child. I told her to shut up. To Grace those two words were like the worst obscenities in the world. She never forgave me for this, ever. I complained to my mom, “How could we tour the water park and not go?” My mom replied, “Aunt Grace is paying for the trip so we will do what she wants to do.”
After that Aunt Grace wanted to swing through Wyoming to see the Devil’s Tower. We stayed there for about 45 minutes then started the trip back home to WI. Except that Grace was not ready to go home yet. She wanted to stop in Canada to buy her favorite tea. So we drove many hours out of the way to get her tea. We sat in line at customs for an hour to go into Canada for 20 minutes to get her tea. On the way back through customs, they searched our whole vehicle. Who drives all the way up to Canada for 20 minutes?? Aunt Grace, that’s who.
Over time, the hurried trips became fewer and fewer. Aunt Grace’s driving got worse than it was before. She stayed closer to home. My grandma complained that she was all over the road. Other people started commenting to us about her poor driving. When it was time to renew her license, she did not pass the vision test with glasses. She lost her license and was beginning to lose her vision as well.
This was also the beginning of the end. Sometimes I sit and think. I try to make sense out of everything that happened. I don’t understand. What Grace did to me was cruel. But I don’t think that she ever meant to be cruel. That is what I don’t (can’t) understand. She didn’t relate with others in a normal way. Sometimes I wonder if Grace was in the Autism Spectrum. Is this the line where everything started?
Grace was not the only one that seemed anxious going or staying somewhere. My grandpa and Uncle Harold would only go somewhere if they had to. When they got there, they would stay for the shortest amount of time that was socially acceptable. My grandpa would drive my grandma to the store and stay in the car. I have never seen him go in a restaurant. He didn’t even go to my wedding. Now my dad is showing the same pattern of behavior. He doesn’t go to the kids events. He shows up for parties for the least amount of time that is acceptable or finds excuses not to show up at all. Once when Paul and I were in a real bind, my dad stayed with our kids while we were gone for the night. He sat in the car all night. He did not come in at all or even talk to the kids.
I don’t understand. I can’t relate. But if I did, would I take on these strange family traits?