My mother has three brothers and three sisters. The youngest, my uncle Chimp, is a bit of a nomad like me, only he tends to go where there are people to mooch off. I love him dearly, but he’s a terrible mooch (or perhaps I should say accomplished mooch). He lives in Las Vegas now, despite the fact that he was once banned from there.
Second youngest is Auntie T, who now lives in Hawaii. Auntie T and Chimp are my mother’s favorites, as she practically raised them. Chimp even sends her mother’s day cards. It was at Auntie T’s house that I would be staying when I arrived in Honolulu.
Next is Lulu, my aunt in Tennessee. She and my mother have never gotten along, although she is my grandma’s favorite. If I’ve seen Lulu a handful of times, I only remember two instances.
Mouse is the only sibling to live in Cincinnati, and when I moved away to college I lived just down the street from him. Every few weeks I’d call him up. “Whadya want, whadya need?” was always his greeting, to which I would reply, “Mouse, I’m out of pop, I’m out of toilet paper,” and he’d run me to the grocery store. We weren’t close the way other families seem to be close — ours was strictly a business relationship. If I needed food, I’d call him. If he had leftovers from dinner, he’d drop them off. I’d give him five bucks for gas, and that would be that.
Ootz, the second oldest, lived in Minnesota for all of my life. I have one memory of him, from when I was very small and we went up to visit. He passed away a few years ago. Sorting through the cds and movies he left behind, I came to the sad realization that we would have been friends had I known him better.
And then there’s Suzy.
For the longest time Suzy was just a legend to me. I’d met her, apparently, when I was very small, but have no memory of this. Instead I had the countless tales and stories my mother would tell me about Crazy Aunt Suzy. How when she was a teen she used to sit up in a tree with a b-b gun and shoot people as they walked passed. Or the horrifying tale told by my uncle that I was probably way to young to overhear. A nomad too (it seems to run in the family), Suzy would drop off the radar for years and then suddenly you’d get a letter or a phone call, usually a signifier that she was back in rehab, prison, etc. Sometimes we’d write back; mostly we’d dodge her calls, and eventually she’d disappear again, back into the underworld of who knows what she got into.
A year or so ago she swept into town without warning. I was living on my own then, and heard the news through my-mother-the-grapevine, warning that Suzy might call, which eventually she did. It was strange to talk to someone I barely knew and had no memories of except stories and rumours, and whose knowledge of me dated back to my 8th grade Anne Rice obsession. We made small talk and promises that we should get together some time. A few weeks later she blew out of town once again, after having threatened my grandma with a knife and having a restraining order put on her.
And that was the last I heard of Suzy, or expected to hear from her for a few more years at least. Until, a week before the move, I received a call from Auntie T, informing me that Suzy would be joining me in Hawaii, and wasn’t that wonderful?
Funny how no matter how far you run, troubles always seem to follow.