*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
When my grandmother opened a present from her son and her daughter-in-law for her birthday, she made a face. The package contained two nightgowns, and she hated them. Her dislike for the gift was likely exacerbated by her dislike of the woman who'd picked them out.
My grandmother and her only daughter-in-law weren't friendly with each other. They treated each other with disdain. Thus, the nightgowns didn't stand a chance.
One day, my grandmother told my mother she couldn't bear to have the nightgowns in her apartment. She hated them so much that knowing they were in such close proximity gave her anxiety. "Tell her I don't want these nightgowns," my grandmother told my mother. "I don't need them, and they are the ugliest nightgowns I have ever seen. Tell her she doesn't have to get me different ones, either. I don't want anything from her at all."
My mother tried to put her off. She didn't want to get involved in the never-ending drama between her own mother and her sister-in-law, but my grandmother wore her down.
"Every day, it was the same story," my mother told me. "So I finally did as I was told. I collected the two nightgowns, marched upstairs with them, and knocked on my sister-in-law's door to return them. She opened the door and smiled as I apologized and explained the problem with the nightgowns."
After my mother finished explaining the situation, her sister-in-law said something that bothers her to this day.
"It's okay. I'll put them away in a drawer for now. When your mother loses her mind and ends up in a nursing home, she won't care what nightgowns anyone puts on her," she told my mother.
My mother was speechless.
"I left without saying another word. My mother was just happy to get rid of her ugly nightgowns. Of course, I didn't tell her what her daughter-in-law had said because she would have felt devastated," my mother told me.
"The nightgowns may have been ugly, but they weren't as ugly as her attitude," my mother continued."It was such a cruel thing for her to say. Saying that about her own mother-in-law was heartless."
My grandmother passed away in her nineties. Unfortunately, she developed dementia just as my cruel aunt had predicted, but she never wore those ugly nightgowns she hated even in the nursing home where she spent her final years. My mother made sure of that.
When I think about those nightgowns, I wonder if my aunt was trying to be spiteful. Or was she trying to make a point? Either way, those nightgowns brought nothing but misery to my family. I'm glad they're gone, but I'm sad my grandmother is no longer with us. At least she never had to wear those nightgowns.
What do you think? Was my aunt spiteful, or was my grandmother ungrateful? Comments are welcome.