I don’t write about my family. I figured I may have opened my heart and soul to this group but no one else did. However recent events in my life have prompted me to rethink this stance.
In 1940 my father was discharged from the U.S. Navy. His father died in December of that year and my father, being the oldest of seven children, inherited the house. Needless to say, the next year he received a notice that his services were once again needed. As he used to joke, “My uniform still fit.” So as he was going off to war he made his sister Addie executor of his will and temporary owner of the house. Now my mother and her sister and my grandmother lived in the house, and that arrangement was never made clear to me.
Well in 1943 my father’s ship was sunk by a German U-Boat and he and several crew members ended up in a lifeboat. The U-boat surfaced and asked a few questions. “Where were you going? What was your cargo? Are there any officers among you?” When satisfied with the answers the captain tossed them two cartons of cigarettes and three bottles of wine and told them to head in a southeasterly direction to enter South Atlantic shipping lanes with the hope of been picked up. Two weeks later they were rescued by a Brazilian freighter and taken to Rio de Janeiro where they were interned.
Meanwhile back in the states, my aunt Addie received word that my father was missing in action. So she took control and ordered my mother and grandmother evicted. In the famous words I must have heard 1000 times from my mother, “She said to me, ‘I can turn this place into a dance hall if I care to.” After three months in Brazil my dad returned. When he went to the house to see his fiancée (my mother) he found out what had happened. He was earlier advised that the battle for the North Atlantic was won and he had no fear of being shipped out again.
So my father brought my mother back and evicted my aunt and they never spoke again, from 1944 to 1977. When I announced I was moving to Tucson, he said, “Your aunt lives there, I’ll call her.” I was not, in fact nobody was, privy to that conversation, but I don’t believe they ever spoke again. Addie and I got along well. We both knew we were familiar with the story, but that was their affair.
Which brings me around to my sister Elaine. We had a disagreement a while back and have not spoken in 6 months. It’s been said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I guess I’ll see. We Portuguese are thick skinned and thicker headed.