When the great aunt of your husband - the great aunt you happen to be living with and caring for, the great aunt who cannot remember her age but will speak fluently in any of six languages - when the great aunt of your husband is invited to tea and you live with her, it is expected of you to supply the transportation and be a part of the event as if you had been invited yourself, and so you do, and you observe the mannerisms and the conversations of a generation slowly dying out, a generation clinging to its ideals in a country that is changing faster than they can comprehend - when the great aunt of your husband lives for eighty-nine years in the same country, vehemently espousing the same beliefs for decades, forgetting that she is no longer forty-five years old and that her opinions are no longer acceptable, and even her friends are only humouring her:
“Oh sure, in Ireland we didn’t really know what Hitler was doing at the time.”
“Wasn’t he marvelous?”
“I heard something about rubber tanks used to divert the Germans, and so they gained the advantage by pretending to go this way when they really were concentrating all of their efforts the other way.”
“Wasn’t he a fascinating character? I had a cat named Hitler – ”
Cue the husband and I staring wide-eyed at each other from across the table.
“I remember taking Hitler out for walks, oh -”
Cue me imagining her cleaning out Hitler’s litterbox, teasing Hitler with cotton mice, cuddling Hitler on a lazy Sunday morn, sticking Hitler in a carrier and bringing him to the vet, leaving Hitler in a boarding house when she went on holiday, scolding Hitler for romancing the neighborhood’s feline ladies (“bad Hitler, you cat about town, you!”) stroking Hitler, oh Hitler, that marvelous character of a cat, and calling him in at dusk – “Hitler, oh Hitler! Here boy!”
“The Eagle's Nest was a marvelous place. Oh, that copper elevator with those beautiful seats all round, and that silken rug given him by the emperor of Ethiopia at the time, you know they cut it up for souvenirs after the war.”
“Those Jews shouldn’t have been so greedy with money. Those Israelis, oh, let me tell you something about the Israelis.”
Sometimes she complains that she inherited her Indian mother's looks, because her schoolmates teased her about being the only dark-skinned girl in Ireland. Now there are thousands of dark-skinned girls in Ireland, and she counts them on her fingers when she's in town.