This is the week I am supposed to call my aunt while driving to the Cape. Decided last minute to stay in town to attend a Cheryl Strayed event and do reading and dog naps all weekend.

I did the aunt call on my way to Boston. I do love my aunt and appreciate her presence in my life as well as all of her generosity. And she is frustrating which I don’t think she can totally help.

She is very damaged and I think it goes back to losing their father at such a young age. She developed anxiety and I think decided every ache and pain she would experience going forward would mean sudden death.

Her latest round of anxiety attacks seem to require a tremendous amount of effort from my sister and mother. She thinks she is going to die every day and no one will know so she has my mother calling every day to check in. When she starts an anxiety attack she gets dressed and calls my sister at 4am to be taken to the emergency room.

We have all told her the ER won’t do anything did her. A lesson my sister learned after wasting a day there with her when she was told to take her high blood pressure pills and make an appointment with her pcp which she never did.

This latest series seems to oddly coincide with my nephew Nathaniel’s new existence just as another one happened when my other nephew Charlie was young. Just because my sister lives a town away doesn’t mean she had time for any this. Why not call my brother? He can work from home.

She is also obsessed with yelling the story of the neighbor who did die in his bathroom and wasn’t found for a long time. I think she ruminates about this happening to her. Tonight she told me she hoped he died right away and that it wasn’t something where he was alive for days alone. Yes, I can understand why that would worry her. It’s something I also have to consider and it’s uncomfortable.

I try to reiterate for her any direction my mom and sister have already given her because I think she needs to hear the same thing repeatedly and wonder if when I say it, it gets any more credibility. So tonight I reiterated how she should get one of this life alert buttons so that at least if she falls down and is still conscious she can get help. At least that way she doesn’t have to worry about dying for days alone. She is not interested. Nor does she seem capable of self recognizing her ER symptoms are an anxiety attack so she just needs to take a pill rather than call my sister.

She won’t do the things which are in her control and would help ease her symptoms. And don’t even get me started on the hip replacement she has put off for 4 years so that she won’t get her nails or hair done if she can’t find a place that’s on a ground floor without stairs. She had been rather active and out and about a lot before the hip thing. It’s just not mentally healthy to avoid fixing that in order to restore her independence.

I know she wants attention and expects us to drop everything for her because she has no one else. We can’t. It’s not fair. It sucks. I know because I am in the same boat. No husband and no kids. But we just have to accept it and make different arrangements and expectations for ourselves.

It also doesn’t help that every time we talk to her she tells us her doctor is black. “But she’s very nice.” What ruse was she expecting? Same with going on and on about the Vietnamese nail people. It’s like she is always pleasantly surprised they are human like her. Incredibly frustrating.

I suppose all of this really gets under my skin because it could be me. I don’t want my mental illnesses to start winning and I do this to my sister and her kids.