While Louise is my only sister, I am not the only sister in my sister’s life. To use modern parlance, my sister is from another mister. Frank had two girls from his first marriage and after Frank died, they weren’t in touch with Louise as much as Mom would have liked…
But to be fair to them, Mom can be quite an intimidating woman and I expect they would have found it difficult to come to some arrangement. Over the years Mom has stoked Louise’s animosity for her sisters on her father’s side. I have found myself thinking that there was no way that Mom would put aside the faults committed on both sides over the years that Mom was “dating” Frank while he was still married to Louise’s other sisters’ mother. Mom couldn’t let go of her hurt and anger.
So, during Louise’s wedding reception, her other sisters attended but they were sitting by themselves… I crossed the room and talked to them. I said how much I admired and missed their dad and asked after their children. Something I have learned in dealing with Troy’s children is that it doesn’t take much effort to soothe a few feathers and encourage better communication – if the other party is willing to talk. Anyway, I ensured I opened the lines of communication with them, made them Facebook friends and – on the odd occasion, I check in. They aren’t my sisters but, in another life they might have been.
The reason I’m relating this story is because of what Mom said when I left Louise’s sisters. Mom said smugly “You wanted to show them that you’re a better person!” I was horrified! I crossed the room for my sister! Not because I had some latent grudge and that I wanted to “show them”. I managed to gulp back saying Actually, I showed them that I’m a better person than you, Mother! There may be a day when I am able to say that sort of thing to Mom, but I doubt it will be in this lifetime. Helping her to see how she has hurt me and Louise would be counter-productive because she wouldn’t take it as constructive: she would just take the comments personally and burrow down into another depression.
While she is an amazing woman for raising two girls without a man in the house, she also appears to be unable to grow as an individual. To some extent, Mom’s emotional development stopped at the point when she was afraid of her drunk and violent father. While I am grateful I never endured the kind of childhood she did, I am also sad that she struggles to show love… I remember one afternoon, Mom and I were sitting at her kitchen table – the one with the white top, chrome legs and the chairs had coppery cushions and chrome legs. I flopped my hand down, expecting her to pick it up. Instead, she looked at it as if to say “What’s that doing there?” So I said, Hold my hand. Mom did it but was visibly uncomfortable, so I let go. None of this makes her a bad person – but it does leave me wondering how she can move past her childhood trauma. Perhaps she never will. I love her. I wish she were happier.