We grew up in El Segundo (on the beach near LA Airport) and they grew up in Corona (inland Riverside). So, yes, we grew up together, but we didn't live in the same town. We would usually have a "kids swap" where they would come to our house for a week, and we would go to theirs for a week in the summer, and sometimes we would all go to my other aunt's house for a week (who was childless for the first ten years of my life). I specifically remember them all dressing me up like a Christmas Tree in the middle of summer and hanging bulbs and ornaments on me. Being the youngest for ten years, it was always interesting to see how much they would abuse me (In a fun way. So, it is a happy memory). I also remember my Cousin Arlene running down the street with a knife wanting to kill Robert (I was so scared. Not a happy memory.).
He was from the home of my mom's sister, Annie, the one who died in March from a fall and hit on the head. Annie did not get along well with my mom's other sister, Eleanor. My mom sided with Eleanor (they are best friends). Consequently, there hasn't been a whole bunch of "mixing" between our families and theirs, especially since my grandmother died and the "fight" over the money (because there was lots of it and Annie wanted it because she has never been as "well-off" as the other two sisters and thought she deserved more) left some hard feelings. Every time I have gone down to visit, I have wanted to see these cousins, but my mom hasn't wanted to have that happen. Even in January, at my mom's 80th birthday, she did NOT want to invite her sister or my cousins and their families to the big party, even though my aunt called repeatedly asking if there was anything going on for my mom's 80's. My mom kept saying, "They will only cause trouble." Six weeks later, my aunt was dead. Four months later, my cousin is dead. What a tragedy. It makes me sad that I was not able to see them. Such is the family dynamic of this irrational Swedish family though. SIGH The drama growing up between all of them always made my father, brother, and I sigh. Big sigh as I type. Is there a sigh emoticon?
You asked if we were close. Robert and I always got along. He was kind to me (not to his sister, as you will read below), and we were both the youngest children in our respective families of very LOUD, OUTSPOKEN, IRRATIONAL people. Consequently, there was always this unspoken bond between us. Believe it or not, I was the quieter one in my family, and he was in his. He was 18 months older than I was. He was more passive in how he dealt with things. He was gone alot as he grew older, and below you will see why.
The difference between the three families of the three sister can be summed up this way:
My mother and Eleanor married wonderful men (my dad and my Uncle Kenny)
Annie married a jerk.
(Above is a photo of Annie, My mom, and Eleanor. The wedding picture is at my parents' wedding. The two sisters and their husbands are the people in the wedding party.)
My Uncle Glen was an alcoholic, and a mean one. I didn't realize just how mean until the last couple of months. My cousin, Arlene, tells me that he was drunk almost every night, and he would annihilated her personally with verbal barrages. He also could never hold down a job. So, my Aunt Annie was a pretty crabby lady growing up, and she took things out on her children.
Add to that the mix of my Aunt Annie. My mother's family of origin was sort of luny. So, my mom and Aunt Eleanor have their issues, but their husband's stabilized the lunacy. My Aunt Annie had no stabilizing, only further lunacy.
I remember going there for that week in the summer and feeling so insecure with all the yelling. My mom remembers me going there once and coming back as a young child saying, "I didn't like it there. They never put us to bed. I am so tired."
So, as adults, their three children (Gary, Arlene, and Robert) didn't fair so well. Gary was a schizophrenic. Arlene married at 19, got pregnant by another guy, divorced at 20, jilted at the birth of her daughter by the birth father, married an abusive husband who doesn't work and abuses her verbally to this day. Actually, Robert was the one who was the "golden boy" of the three. He started a successful roofing business and married a nice girl. According to Arlene though, he always drank and had a mean streak. His wife divorced him in 1995 after almost twenty years of marriage and three children. He was doing well on his own though until he met a woman two or three years ago (a former prostitute) that took him into crystal meth, speed (I don't know if they are the same thing or not) and more alcohol.
The most recent issue involved my Cousin Robert trashing my aunt's house after she died. My cousins, Arlene and Gary, went to the house, and Robert became angry. They left, and he tried to run them off the road with his car. They called the police, and he resisted arrest and was charge with assault with a deadly weapon. He tried to get out of jail by calling my brother and having him bail him out, but my brother is into "tough love" (Chris and I have a half brother who is an alcoholic. So, Chris has learned that) and Chris told him that jail would be the best thing for him. So, my Cousin Robert went to jail and would have been in jail had not one of his friend bailed him out. Within a week, he was murdered.
My Cousin Arlene is in agony because their last phone call was him trying to get her to drop the charges, and she encouraged him to get help. She said last night through tears, "He died HATING me, Carol!"
What is really interesting is that the Thursday before Mother's Day, my Cousin Arlene went to visit my aunt's grave and told her mom (in the ground), "Robert is not far behind you. I feel his time will be short."
Sixteen days later, he was dead.
Her daughter also had a dream where my aunt came to her and said, "Tell Robert I don't like what he is doing, and he is going to be talking to me soon."
We suspect that someone knew that my cousin had fifteen thousand dollars in cash on him because he had just sold his house and was going to have his son put the cash in a bank account for him. He must have gone to San Ber. to buy drugs and met his end.
Anyway, that was a long story, but it helped for me to write this out. Murder is a weird thing. I have never had this connected with my family before.
My brother and I were commenting on how his own life has turned out and could have gone down a similar route. He strayed for some years too which included some partying with Robert, but I am really pondering the power of a father this day. Even when my brother strayed away, he always had a standard and reference point that pointed back to my dad who is my brother's hero of heroes. Robert didn't have the reference point with my Uncle Glen.
I am so sad.
Thanks for listening. I am crying.