I was making a macaroni salad yesterday with some tuna that my friend brought back from Spain. The recipe was one that my Aunt Mildred taught me it was the second recipe that I learned to make from a written recipe.
Aunt Millie as everyone else calls her is a character. When we were kids she was bigger than life to us. She was like a movie star. She dressed like one and spent hours putting on make up. All us kids would sit like groupies around her dressing table while she applied layers upon layers of make up and tell us the most outrageous stories.
She is my Dad's brothers wife. Her character was a sharp contrast to my Dad's whole family who grew up on the farm. They were gentle quiet people and Aunt Millie was a city slicker from Chicago.
I think now she was one of the first crush on someone with that charismatic personality that I associate with alcoholism and addiction.
Over the years we have lost Aunt Millie to prescription pills. All my Dads siblings live within walking distance of each other on my grandfathers land. My uncle keeps Aunt Millie under wraps and makes all the familiar excuses for her absences at the family events.
When I visited a few years ago I didn't know all the unspoken rules about arriving unannounced. They told my Aunt Millie was not available to see me. I called and she answered and was so happy. She invited me right over. It was the middle of the day and she was in her pj's. She gave me a tour of the house and she said she was sorry about how I had been treated and wished I hadn't stayed away so long.
She gave me some things that belonged to my grandmother. My uncle was embarrassed by her and cut the visit short. He doesn't know just how much I know about loving someone with an addiction.
Yesterday when I thought of her I felt the pain and sadness the family is suffering. My cousin's lives have been forever changed by addiction and probably think there is nothing that will change the effects addiction has had on them. A lot of the pain caused by hiding and denying what is going on. Everybody knows we only think it is a secret.
Living with active addiction touches so many lives. I hope to visit more often and maybe share some of my own story when the timing is right.