Relationships are often not what they seem from the outside, that’s why divorces and murder-suicides are often such a surprise. They’re also often not what they seem from the inside either, that’s why battered and abused partners can take so long to run.
According to my grandmother, her aunt’s husband seemed perfect. A hard worker, always attentive, always helpful and handsome enough to have to beat women off with a broomstick. Everyone envied Great-Great-Aunt Vinnia her husband. Also her house, her jewellery and her ornaments. Grandmother said, if they’d been around, her aunt would’ve had the latest mobile phone and electronic kitchen appliances.
They had no children, which everyone said was sad, and as the years passed he aged well. They’re in this photo from my grandmother’s wedding and you can see him in the second row; the handsome man with the thin moustache hovering over the woman with the solid walking stick. Great-Great-Aunt Vinnia, the picture shows, was not aging well.
She outlasted my grandfather, by a few weeks. He got kicked in the head by a horse and she fell to pneumonia.
Her husband was pale-faced at the funeral she’d planned and pre-paid for. He was a spectator while the will was read and the subject of shocked speculation when Great-Great-Aunt Vinnia left him nothing. Her will actually said he wasn’t getting anything. Her house, her ornaments and her jewellery went to various family members but he got zilch.
My grandmother got a beautiful Persian glass bottle. It’s still there on the mantelpiece, see?
She freed him, of course, her uncle-by-marriage, the genie. There never was any family money. Great-Great-Aunt Vinnia used to beat him with that stick, too. Not nice. Grandmother negotiated his freedom so he wouldn’t kill everyone, so it worked out for the best, really.