Aunt Louise is the oldest of four sisters. In her day, she was very beautiful with a beaming smile. She was also quite awkward in many ways. As an example, when she graduated high school, her fiance still had a year to go, so she kept going to school and audited classes so she’d have something to do while she waited for him to graduate. She didn’t feel free and excited and have all these girlfriends to do things with. She waited for her fiance to graduate high school.
The following year, they did indeed get married.
In the wedding photo she looks quite happy. He looks kind of bashful. The article in the paper is typical for 1949 with descriptions of what everyone wore and the several bridal showers she was given, including one given by the office girls of the place she worked.
Her life afterwards turned out to be very, very difficult and sad: dysfunctional marriage, death of a three-year-old daughter, poverty, divorce, more poverty, then a good husband who died years ago, abusive relationship in her later years, and finally death of another daughter from brain cancer.
I would read the wedding article sometimes and wonder where it all went wrong….
Aunt Louise is due to turn 90 this coming January and my mother recently remarked that she has been quite talkative the last few times they were together. Louise has said surprising things such as: the reason she never worked after getting married was because not one person had liked her at the job she had. She knew it the very first day she walked in the door. They hated her at first sight.
How strange. I wouldn’t have guessed that she was hated at her job. According to her wedding announcement she had worked there for two years and “the office girls” had even given her a wedding shower.
I had always thought she had two lives. The one before marriage and the one afterwards. Instead, those “two lives” were part of a familiar pattern.
Her life turned out like all the other women’s lives in this family. A beginning seemingly full of promise and light, beauty and hope. Smart, sensitive, active girls who end up as victims on some level wondering where it all went wrong.
I suspect the clues to the future were right there all along. We just missed them in the quest to do the right thing, please the people around us, be good girls, and basically give away our power until there was no more to give.
There are more women’s stories in my family and I hope I can do them justice.