The Twilight Zone

I swear every time I speak to my mother lately I am treated to a revisionist history of recent events. History is something I know a little bit about – after all, I have two degrees in history. One of the things that I am good at discerning is the difference between fact and interpretation. I find it fascinating that two different people can witness the same things yet have two completely different interpretations.

My sister is a maniac. She has singlehandedly ruined Christmas and my birthday celebration in 2010. She picks a fight by bringing up stuff from our childhood and continues to escalate until she is pretty much frothing at the mouth and doing some weird herky-jerky dance.[1] In June after my birthday celebration, she actually pushed me. The woman is not stable. At the time of these events, my mother clearly sees what happened. She even said to George – ‘can’t you control your wife?’

As time goes on my mother forgets what actually happened and starts to go with the ‘spin’ my sister puts on it. So now, Kathy’s behavior is justified because of certain ‘reasons’, which seems to make it all just fine. The first reason thrown at me today was that Kathy was annoyed because she wanted to cook Christmas dinner. Now, if someone had told me this that would have been helpful. I had arranged with my mother that Deb and I would do the meals so that she and Kathy could have a break. This had been arranged ahead of time and even included my mother bringing a waffle iron to Calgary from her other house.

The next reason thrown at me was that Kathy has dyslexia and everyone has called her stupid her entire life and she is not. Ok, granted, Kathy is not stupid. But if you try to have a conversation with her and like ask a question to understand what she is trying to say she blows up. So, while she may not be stupid, she cannot express her ideas in a cogent way. I talk to lots of people who can’t express themselves easily. I am very patient and will work to understand them.

The third problem is apparently I have no empathy. I just about died. I have oodles of empathy. I have so much empathy that I often don’t know where others end and I begin. I have to work at not going overboard with empathy! I couldn’t believe that my mother could say that to me. Honestly, I think the problem is that I have too much empathy for them.

Then she tells me that I should be more diplomatic with my sister – somewhat akin to trying to be diplomatic with let’s say Gadaffi. She tells me that with all my education and work experience I should know how to handle my sister. The truth is there is a reason my sister does not work – she can’t handle it. When she did try to work, she was usually fired within a year. After my mother’s second attempt to make Kathy a productive human being when she put her through legal secretary school, Kathy got a job and made a mistake that cost the company she was working for over $50,000. She went to waitressing after that where at least if she screwed up, she could comp someone’s meal.

Then she comes out with this gem: “Kathy yells but you cry like a little baby and then Deb comes and rescues her little baby.” I said yes, I cry, I always have. That is how I react to these kinds of unprovoked attacks. I make no excuses for not handling it well; there is no yelling and screaming in my day-to-day life unless it is on the television. Deb and I don’t argue that way. We are both very considerate when we argue to make sure it does not escalate. I don’t believe that anything good comes from losing control and saying mean things to the person, you are supposed to love the most in the world. So, ya, I cry when someone yells at me.

I get that my mother just wants us to get along. I have told her I am happy to do that and that it is up to Kathy. She tells me that Kathy wants to have a relationship with me and tells me I should phone her. I do not intend to put myself in the position where my sister is going to yell at me.

My loyalty is to my mother plain and simple. In my mind, I have a duty to do what I can for her as she ages. Care for aging parents was something instilled in me from the time I can remember. My mother and grandmother looked after my great-grandmother. My mother and us kids looked after my grandmother and now we are looking after my mother. It is just the way it is done in my family.

[1] Take for example Christmas. She got upset because she decided we weren’t passing the food in the correct way. So she got up and demonstrated, while yelling and screaming and waving her arms clock-wise and counter-clockwise, how the food should and should not be passed. Her hair, which is not her best attribute, was flying wildly and I am sure that my mother and Kathy’s husband George both got a spit-bath.