Years ago, while I was still reeling from having been abandoned by my ex-husband, my children’s Great Great Aunt & Uncle–Anna & Marvin Ebbinger–were fixtures in our lives.
Uncle Marvin filled the place of a local grandparent for my boys, and could repair darned near anything. He was a former Air Force pilot who used to fly Air Force One for Truman and Eisenhower back in the early day of aviation, where he also had to be a mechanic in case the plane broke down. He was wise and kind and after a second career as a farmer, he was a lay pastor at the local Veterans Hospital as well as our public hospital.
Aunt Anna, as we called her (“That’s too many greats,” she complained as she waved them off) was an heiress and while her husband supported them as a couple, she used that money to help the family. She had tended her uncle (pictured above) in the last ten years of his life, and had therefore inherited his fortune including original GE stock. I’m not 100% sure which of the men in the above photo in Edison’s Lab is her Uncle Vetter, but I did see another photo that was made into a mural at the Boston Museum of Science, and the same man, mostly shaved, looked uncannily like my ex, and one of my sons.
One day Aunt Anna had a a proposition for me. She wanted me to do the same thing she had done for her uncle, to move in with them and care for her in her old age. And I had many reasons for saying no. First of all I had almost finished college and stated a new career as a safety professional. I’d Ioved the work years ago and discovered that I needed a degree to continue doing it. I also did not want more ties to my ex’s family. Aunt Anna and Uncle Marvin aside, I had difficulties with some of my ex’s relatives who believed my ex’s version of our breakup. Finally, she was a persnickety cranky person who did nothing but complain. Still, I prayed about it: if I was supposed to do this, then I would.
I felt very strongly that I was not supposed to move in with them to care for her. I thanked her for her trust but felt I was not qualified. She seemed to feel betrayed, but Uncle Marvin told her to let it go.
It turns out I was right to say no, and not just because I suffered from clinical depression at the time. It just hit me today, like a welcome sigh, that the reason I was tired all the time–even as a youngster–was that (recent diagnosis) my heart was beating far too slowly. Since my pacemaker’s been installed I’ve been so energetic it’s almost scary. So as of today I’ve stopped beating myself up about not being there for Aunt Anna. I made the right decision back then, trusting my instincts.