Seeing beyond the surface

Last weekend my aunt Jan found a body in the lake in front of her house.

I have always had a love hate relationship with my aunt Jan.

My aunt Jan is bossy, critical, and controlling. She demands that things are her way, she doesn’t ask.

When I was a young girl, we used to have family reunions. Every year aunt Jan would pressure me into playing volleyball with the family even though I told her I didn’t want to because I sucked. Then I would play horribly and she would yell at me for sucking. After that happened several times, I had a “negative attitude” by refusing to play.

Games were played by her rules. I remember a few years back being involved in a family board game when she just announced out of the blue that the game was over. We were right in the middle of the game! It really made me mad, but she packed up the pieces and put the game away.

Every year at Christmas time, she demands that Angel and I sing Christmas songs. “You are singing and you are singing right now”. It makes Angel rather angry. But for some reason, I don’t protest or rock the boat by being disagreeable despite hating being told what to do.

Aunt Jan is a clean freak.

Several years ago a few members of our family along with Jan rented a large tent camping site close to her house. In the early morning hours a freak storm popped up. We packed up our camping equipment then huddled dirty and wet in her garage. She would not let us into her house to use the bathroom because we were too dirty.

She recently hosted two bridal showers at her house. She told the guests that they were not allowed to wear spikes because it would wreck her floors. There was no clutter and not one item was out of place. She made it known that children were not welcome. Children make messes. Both times my oldest daughter (17) was invited, but my youngest (13) was not. My youngest cousin who is also a teenager was not invited. This caused a lot of hard feelings.

Unfortunately, my aunt seems more concerned about the state of her house than she is about her relationships.

You may be wondering, like my husband and daughter do, why I don’t just tell her off. Nobody’s perfect. For all of aunt Jan’s perfectionism she is far from perfect, but we love her anyway. Sometimes I need to look beyond the surface of what I see to what I know. For all of Jan’s negative personality traits, she has some really good traits too. 

Aunt Jan is one of the most compassionate people that I know. She has a big heart for those who are suffering.

Out of my mom’s four sisters, I think that Jan was the one that helped my mom through her hard times the most. She spent a lot of time listening to my mom. I could tell that she truly cared. She didn’t turn away when my autistic brother Matt had some of his darkest days like a few other family members did. I saw that she was there for my mom when she needed her the most. For that, I will always be able to overlook some of her annoying quirks. 

A few days ago, someone left flowers on aunt Jan’s doorstep. I can’t imagine how horrifying it must have been for her to find someone’s body in the lake in front of her house. When I was there earlier this month, the lake was cool, calm, and beckoning. It didn’t look capable of taking a life. 

Sometimes our eyes limit what our mind can see.

 

 

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