My mother was born into a Catholic family of landed-gentry stock. Her father was a KC – King’s Counsel – who I think specialized in suing labour unions. His wife bore a dozen kids between, roughly, 1910 and 1927. Quite a caste, of which only one is now left:
Uncle C – Founded a successful partnership and became a millionaire when it mean something, but went armed at times because of who he did business with (I never worked it all out); disowned one of his sons for being gay.
Aunt J – I last saw her alive when she was in her 80s, smoking hashish in Morocco.
Uncle N – Became a priest in France; interned by Nazis during war; arrested on child porn charges in 1980s or so but let off owing to supposed Resistance connections with President Mitterand; ended days in remote monastery.
Uncle R – Air Force Wing Commander; bombed Somali villages for non-payment of tax (they dropped leaflets to warn them first); killed in raid over Germany.
Aunt O – Lived in Egypt, Persia, Texas and W Virginia and had different coloured eyes – forbidden in Texas, according to a driver’s licence issuing officer; amazing cook.
Aunt G – Lived in Australia and sent my mother ‘luxury’ (by Oz standards) food parcels for decades after WW2 rationing ended.
Uncle T – Became priest; housemaster at a Catholic boarding school; banished to Bolivia after having an affair (and, rumour has it, kids); spent remaining days kicking stones and sand over the pagan Nazca Lines in the Peruvian desert.
A few boring ones, plus the sole surviving member of this soap opera…
Aunt S – Lived in Aden and Malta; now divides time between playing croquet and screaming at nephews and nieces over the phone for not treating her with sufficient respect (eg leaving message on answering machine rather than sending a liveried messenger carrying handwritten greetings on genuine parchment); one daughter married a member of the House of Lords, the other committed suicide; wrecks every family gathering by insulting everyone loudly.
We have a moral quandary: it would be unconscionable not to invite Aunt S, the one survivor of that generation, to her late last living sibling’s funeral; it would also be complete madness to let this crazed old bat anywhere near the proceedings. What to do? I am leaning towards hiring security guards or slipping her valium.