I had such hope for the new decade, but there was a lingering cloud hovering over 1960. First there was the disappearance of Tom, then the death of my friend Sally's father. Now I was receiving news from California that was very disheartening. My Grandpa T. had been in remission from his cancer, but there was a recurrence. He had been doing well for so long, but once the cancer had returned, he began going downhill very quickly. Apparently it was a very aggressive cancer and doctors did not give my grandfather much hope.
The other persons going through difficult times back home if California were my cousin Michael and my Aunt Avis. My cousin Michael had been released from the boys camp and had received a new Corvette from my Aunt and Uncle, his parents. He quickly totaled it in a wreck on the freeway. Rumors were that Michael was doing drugs.
My Aunt Avis hadn't been happy in her marriage to my Uncle for many years. My Uncle Tim ruled the roost, dominating the marriage in ways that were common in those days. My Aunt was not allowed to do anything on her own without permission from my Uncle. My Uncle chose the furniture in their home, chose my Aunt's clothing and told her what to wear, told her what to cook, and expected a spotless home. My Aunt had taken to alcohol. She hid it everywhere and drank from a coffee cup so that my Uncle wouldn't know she was drinking. My Aunt was very unhappy with the marriage and repeatedly attempted suicide. She had overdosed on pills, stabbed herself in the stomach and most recently, thrown herself out of a moving car that my Uncle had been driving. By some miracle, my Aunt continued to survive.
It was the night before our college testing, a test comparable to today's SAT's, that I learned of my Aunts latest suicide attempt. I adored my Aunt Avis, and thought she was one of the nicest people in the world. I went into school very depressed on the day of college testing. I usually got very good grades, I was considered very smart, but I was so upset that I didn't do as well as I wanted. Not that it mattered much, I knew my parents couldn't afford to send me to college.