Well this is plain spooky….I “posted” this two days ago but here I found it today still in my drafts and guess what…today would have been Ray’s birthday…trying to tell me something?
It really isn’t fair, I think, to paint someone as a a really bad man when he is not here to defend himself. I just wanted to say this before I write anything more about my time with Kay and Ray.
Ray was a very troubled man. He and I had so many “issues” and I hated living with him, but I couldn’t bring myself to hate him.
Is it because I see some good in everyone? I don’t think so, but I do know that there is always a back story behind every person. Ray was a product of an unhealthy childhood.
I don’t know much about “Granny B.”, just that she was an Irish immigrant who was widowed at an early age with two small children. My uncle always insisted that his mother was responsible for the premature heart attack that took his father’s life.
From the stories I was told, Ray and his sister led a fairly unhappy existence, as a succession of “boyfriends” came to visit, frequently spending the night with a minimum of discretion in a very small apartment.
When I was clearing out Kay and Ray’s home in Maine, I found a letter that Ray had kept from his childhood. He ran away at the age of sixteen, unable to stand his living situation. He left the letter, apparently feeling guilty about leaving.
Ray was in the merchant navy for some years, but eventually went back to live once more with the woman who seemed to have an unbreakable hold on him.
Ray’s sister had escaped by marrying out. Granny didn’t seem bothered about that. She was obsessed with her son. But forever thereafter, Granny B. would play the siblings off against each other, telling different versions of stories which kept her children constantly at loggerheads.
Granny B. lived upstairs, coming down only for meals or to go out, which she seldom did. When she came down to meet me, that first time, I did not warm to her instantly. Which, in itself was not significant. I have always been painfully shy and sometimes first impressions can lead one astray. So I reserve judgement.
But Granny obviously did not like me. I’m sure she had no intention of liking me, although she seemed to have enjoyed my brother’s visit, a couple of years previously. She just did not want another female in her son’s life. She had tried in vain to reject my aunt when Kay arrived from England, offering to pay her fare home. But she was stuck with us.
Peter, Kay, Granny, Ray and Penny
At first, I was slightly taken aback at what I thought was my uncle’s harsh treatment of his old mother. They would have disagreements and he would tell her to go back upstairs which involved shouting and unkind language.
That sort of thing always made me cringe. Occasionally, my parents used to fight, when I was with them in Asia. My father, just like Ray, would raise his voice and his words were sarcastic and cutting. My mother would respond, when she felt like it, and although it was nothing to do with me, I wanted to curl up in a ball.
I would do almost anything to avoid a fight. Which can cause a person a lot of problems.
So when I heard Ray banishing his mother from the living room, the first day I was there, it gave me a queasy sensation in my gut. He came back to the den and announced to Kay that she (Granny B.) was “stewing in her own juice”. I couldn’t imagine treating my mother that way, and I felt sorry for the old lady
Kay was amazingly tolerant of her old mother-in-law, who took advantage of Kay’s good nature. Not long after I came to live with them, Granny said to me one day “Kay was so good to me until you came”. How does one respond to that? As far as I knew, nothing had changed.
I quickly came to the conclusion that Granny B. was a very creepy old lady and my initial reserved perception developed into dislike. Honestly, I couldn’t stand being in the same room with her, although I fully realized that she had been there first and I was the somewhat unwilling”usurper”.
It was obvious that Granny had her hooks into Ray. She probably bailed him out financially to ensure he would stay put and she must have been delighted when it turned out there would be no children.
How pissed off she must have been when I arrived to mess up her plan. But it was all so unnecessary. I would love to have had a grandmother figure. I would have been happy to do things for a nice old lady.
Instead of which, I cringed every time I heard the stairs creak. Kay and I would exchange a look that said “oh shit!”
A long way round to explain why I could not hate the man who mentally tortured me for thirteen years, and beyond. Unfortunately, Ray was also an alcoholic which blew many minor issues into major problems, but there can be no blame attached to alcoholism. Ray struggled with it all his life, often staying on the wagon for years.
Nor was it Ray’s fault that he developed dementia that magnified the abuse that he piled on to my poor Kaysie. I hated that more than anything, but I couldn’t hate him.
Ray in England with my Aunt Win and her dog, Chini. There were moments when he was quite nice.