I grew up believing my Father’s sister, my Aunt Diamond was a terrible person because both my parents and my Grandmother, The Devil’s Wife, had told me that she was. It was easy enough to believe because I was small and impressionable plus we lived in Australia and Diamond lived in New Zealand so I had never actually met her and my Father planned on keeping it that way.
My half sister and brother had spent more time with that side of the family and had met her and claimed they didn’t like her either. With no reason to doubt my family, I learned to dislike Diamond by proxy.
Diamond was either oblivious to or didn’t care about what we all thought of her and would ring on occasion to chat to my parents.
Every time a call was answered with “Oh hello Diamond” we’d exchange glares and roll our eyes.
There were family jokes about the wicked sister and as they’d both been adopted as babies my father would often claim he was grateful they weren’t related by blood.
We were horrible to her, she didn’t deserve that.
Diamond had a big personality, she drank, swore like a sailor and wasn’t afraid to tell you exactly what she thought was best for you. But beyond her rough exterior Diamond was hiding a heart of gold. She was completely authentic and I think that scared the shit out of my parents because as a family, we were anything but.
The hardest part of Diamonds truth bombs was that she was generally right on the money. She could read people like a mentalist and that could be quite unnerving when you weren’t ready to hear it. Ours was a house filled with elephants and skeleton infested closets, hers was pristine metaphorically and literally; her home looked like it had come straight off of a magazine cover, immaculate and elegant, quite a paradox to the story of her life.
I’ll never know why my father really shut her out, did he really believe the lies told by the Devil’s Wife or was it the inability to tolerate facing his own demons? Was it shame, fear, perhaps all of the above? In any case it became apparent in later years when Alzheimer’s stole his ability to hide emotion that despite his previous denial he had always known what happened to her, or at least parts of him had known. How much he’d locked in mental boxes and buried separately I don’t know.
I sensed there was guilt there for not saving her, deep hurt from the things he himself had endured and immense fear of regaining painful memories.
Parts of me sensed his vulnerability and wanted to press him for information, the one time we started to ask a question he had teared up instantly then quick as a flash his eyes had changed and his face hardened angrily. “What’s going on?!” He’d almost shouted it, I changed the subject completely as one does with a toddler throwing a tantrum and distracted him until he settled.
Even through his disease addled brain this line of questioning would not be tolerated. It was in the moment I saw his eyes change to those I recognised from my childhood, that I realised he was more like me than I had ever known. I made a decision to let it go. Let him enjoy what was left of his increasingly miserable life.