Wednesday, November 7, 2012


She had him committed.

'she' is uncle Chris's third wife. There was an undercurrent of disapproval when his sisters discussed it, as if having a third wife was a sign, right there, that he was not showing good judgement in the ordering of his life. As a child I just accepted the disapproval. It fit in with my dad's disapproval of Chris, so it was familiar.

Later, it dawned on me that one of the disapproves had been married three times, the third marriage being a bad enough idea that it could be annulled. And she had been bad enough at being married that she had gone on to just live with a series of at least two men instead of marrying. That last in the fifties when that sort of thing just wasn't done.

Very later, I learned that both of the disapproving sisters were pregnant when they first married. Or maybe didn't marry, in the case of Aunt M. (Not Great Aunt M - she was sensitive about her age, too, and just aunt was simpler.) Just recently, I learned that grandma had an ongoing thing for servicemen.

But back to uncle Chris's third wife. She was a Mormon, which was an excuse to disapprove, right there. That was the expected thing in those times. That was one thing to disapprove of.

He converted to make her happy. Or she demanded that he convert. Or something. That was another thing to disapprove of. The idea being that you were supposed to be dedicated to your brand of religion and switching was a sign that you didn't show proper reverence or devotion, or that you could be led by your pecker or were pussy whipped, although they didn't actually say the last two out loud, at least not with me around.

A third point of complaint was that he kept asking for genealogy information. I'm not sure if the main reason that was offensive was that it would go to the Mormon genealogy files, when they weren't Mormon; or if he was presuming to ask for the information when they weren't talking to him; or if he was demanding the information instead of asking nicely; or if he asked and then started nagging when it didn't come fast enough; or some combination of the above.

I don't remember any complaints about the Mormons baptizing dead ancestors in absentia, but that could just mean that the small child that I was at the time didn't understand the concept enough to take it in. It's not like I was paying particular attention to the disapproval of arguing or commiserating adults around me. They were always disapproving about something.

But back to the third wife.

After he converted for her, and after he annoyed his relatives for her, and after (insert trombone sound to represent the speech of adults a la peanuts), she went and had him committed in a mental asylum and divorced him while he was in it. I remember a certain smugness which seemed to imply that someone from the abused family that he had turned his back on had had to get him sprung. Not that I remember specifics. I couldn't even tell you third wife's name.

Of, course, by the time they were discussing this around me, he had been sprung and divorced for a long time and they only referred to her as Chris's third wife. I'm pretty sure they didn't remember her name by then.

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