My aunt, who died earlier this year, was a woman of great strength and a raucous sense of humor. But despite having three children who loved her dearly, there was clearly something missing in her life, something that revolved around an arduous marriage to a man who was often angry. Even 20 years after he died, this gap still manifested itself. Though she could be sweet and loving (she never forgot a birthday), she could also be petty and unforgiving.
When I was old enough to notice the melancholy in my aunt's life, I asked my mother (my aunt's younger sister) about it. She told me that my aunt had been deeply in love with a young man who had been killed in World War II. Ten years later, my mother said, my aunt married my uncle, after he had pursued her relentlessly for many years. My father believes that my uncle was humiliated at having to wait so long for my aunt's hand, and made her life difficult as a form of unconscious punishment.
This article is available to subscribers only. Please subscribe for full access—subscriptions begin at $4.95. Already have an online account? Log in now. Already a print subscriber? Create an online account for no additional cost.