"Elly, would you be realistic for once in your life? The boy wanted to pulverize April because his daddy plays harmonica. Telling her to make friends with the little [swear word] is a very stupid thing to say."
Hmmmmph. Jim was awfully good at finding fault. Too good, according to Elly. And like a lot of people who were like that, he wasn't that good at admitting his own failings. Take, as a for instance, how he never, ever wanted to admit that he should have put a stop to Marian's constant efforts to undermine her, to make her feel lazy and stupid and foolish. This baffled and angered Elly because he was supposed to look out for her and out of respect of the dead or some such excuse, he just wouldn't admit that he should have been a father first and a husband second. In Elly's opinion, this sort of parental default, this need to back a wife instead of standing up for a child must be why she got along so well with Deanna Sobinski. Like her, Deanna had a domineering, selfish mother who played family politics and a weak, spineless father who only fitfully remembered who wore the trousers in the relationship.
Having Deanna as a daughter-in-law was thus something of a compensation for having to be tied down with a child instead of having a life. It was like having the sister she was supposed to have, a sister who understood how life was supposed to be. Like her, Deanna had had her little adventure before settling down to live a real life with a husband who had the sense to buckle down and work instead of haring off overseas. About the only cloud on Elly's horizon that didn't involve having to deal with children and their headache music related to how long it was taking Elizabeth to grow up. First off, she let a good thing like Anthony slip through her fingers only to have him land in the clutches of some woman whose eyes were far bigger than her stomach. Secondly, she seemed to want to make some sort of nomad of herself and third, she loved things that normal people shouldn't like motorcycles.
Elly didn't want to say "I told you so" when it turned out that a life of adventure always led to heartache so she was forced to hold her tongue. Not that it was all to the bad. After all, Anthony learned the same thing, the two of them compared notes and when they finally got married, it seemed like Elly's life would finally have an almost-happy ending. If only April weren't always in the way. Try as she might, she just couldn't make sense of her youngest; it was as if she'd given birth to a Martian.
Not just any Martian, though. This Martian was all demands, all the time. "Don't run away down South!", "Believe me instead of Loretta Krelbutz", "Don't blame me for the mess in my room", "Don't treat me like furniture no one wants", "Let me finish up my homework", nag, nag, nag! It was almost a relief to finally see her off.
Not, of course, that Elly got to enjoy her long-delayed and well-earned freedom. You see, Michael, for reasons that escaped her, took his family to see some quack of a therapist. She didn't know why; all they ever did was blame a person's mother for all of his or her problems and dredge up things that should, by rights, have been settled years ago. The first thing that Michael did was to grovel to that sleazy pornographer Gluttson so as to get a job writing a book review on some blog or whatever they call it. He made a joke about how if a man can't build up, he can at least tear down. Next thing she knew, Elizabeth threw her life away chasing after that awful helicopter pilot because life with Anthony was too stifling. The nerve of her. If she could deal with a man who didn't really mean all of the hurtful things he said, you'd have thought that Liz could have.
Worse still, Liz had somehow made friends with the simply awful woman who'd wanted Anthony to be more than he was supposed to be. What was wrong with helping Gordon and why did Liz start talking about being more than "Mrs Greasemonkey's Accountant"? Despite everything she did to help, Anthony was not only barred from seeing any of his children, the judge called him a stupid, juvenile dolt who should have waited until his diaper dried out to get married and her a meddling old fool who hated someone for having the courage to do what she clearly wanted to. Stupid, unfair judge. Stupid, ungrateful children. Stupid nagging voice in her head that kept agreeing with the nasty people who wanted her to admit she was wrong and be humiliated.
It was about a week after she'd forced herself to attend Liz's second wedding that she'd noticed that John looked as bad as she felt. They were about to sit down for a nice, quiet meal when he clutched his chest and keeled over on her; she was about to get to the telephone when the world started to almost liquefy before disappearing like a picture on television.
Neither John nor Elly Patterson ever woke up.