Aunt Estelle locked herself in the den Christmas morning. It was her lame attempt to disconnect herself from the family. She mumbled something about not being deserving, didn’t belong, was probably adopted, always been the black sheep, blah, blah, blah. Or, should I say, bah, bah, bah?
Then she muttered some cockamamie gibberish about ruining our righteous atmosphere and that’s what drove my father into confrontation mode. Time for closing arguments.
Coaxing Estelle from her low self-esteem storm shelter was an assignment only Ronald Diggins, Esquire, could handle. I don’t know why attorneys tack on the word Esquire to their names. To me, the word stands for people one notch below royalty. Whatever the reason, only a true statesman could bring Estelle back from her self-inflicted agony. If my dad could muster up some brotherly love, I was sure his trial lawyering skills could get the job done.
“Estelle?” my dad said, knocking politely on her door. “Come on out. You have no business in there. Come out and join us.”
I believe he could have done better.
“Go away. Just be glad I’m here and not in Las Vegas. I have no business being anywhere but right here,” Estelle countered. Aunt Estelle, filled with self-pity as she was, should have known better than to whine while presenting her case. She did, however, manage to get a buck load of sympathy.
“It’s a holiday, Estelle. Nobody’s conducting business. How about we take a break from everything and enjoy a holiday together. Like the old days. What do you say? Hmmm?”
“I only wish I could take a vacation. I can’t seem to get away from anything and you aren’t helping me any, rubbing my nose in it like I’m a dog. Go away. Leave me alone.”
“Oh, please. We love you. Despite the…” My father’s argument was going nowhere.
“See? You’re still doing it! Now, go away!”
“What I meant to say was that we love you. And it doesn’t matter what you did or what was done to you. How many times do I have to say it? You’re forgiven. You’re one hundred percent forgiven and you’re one hundred percent loved. And if you’re not at the breakfast table in five minutes, you’ll be one hundred percent missed. Mother made her famous Curly Monkey Cinnamon Bread. Kaye is serving up Nana Bananas and there’s a steaming cup of Moo-puccino with your name on it. Come on, Estelle. Please come out. It’d make everyone so happy.”
The door opened a crack, just enough for a peek.
“Everyone?” she asked, looking around to see who was on this sympathy train. She needed more assurance, so I made my presence known.
“Aunt Estelle, I’m so glad you’re here with us. I didn’t want to mention it, but you were missed at Thanksgiving.”
The Dragon Lady took a deep breath and looked at me with fiercely conflicted eyes. I continued with my explanation.
“Yes, yes, yes. At first, I didn’t notice. But then I sensed something was wrong. The dinner table seemed uneven. You’re family. And when you’re not with us, there’s a part of us missing. In the Diggins family tree, you’re an important branch. A twig such as myself can’t explain things very well. Sorry.”
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