Posted: December 16, 2008 in Drama, Family

1iconhellokittyI’m not sure if my sister or anyone in her family reads this blog.

My sister makes the best out of their very tough living situation. She’s got that fatalist attitude, “If I don’t keep laughing I’ll start crying,” which must be embedded in our shared DNA since that’s my attitude when things get crappy, too.

They’re having a very, very bad year. More so than usual. As are we all, but since they’re “off the grid” financially and logistically speaking, it’s not the economy that’s hosed them. It’s illness, and hospital visits, and missed work that resulted in significantly reduced funds several months in a row, and unanticipated (expensive!) repairs on their home and their vehicle.

I live in Arizona, she lives in Maine. I did what I could for them in the form of a Christmas check, but I fear it’s not nearly enough. This year, out of all the years that she’s lived under similar daunting conditions, I’m really pretty worried. So I did the only other thing I could do to try to help.

I called in the big guns.

I called our uncle.

My sister is probably going to be mad at me, if she isn’t already at this very second.

See, she and our uncle don’t get along very well. I think it’s because he’s the patriarch of our family. Both my sister and I grew up without a father (we have different dads, the same mom), and my sister provided for a somewhat challenging substitute-parenting experience for my uncle. She chafed at rules and restriction, he got frustrated with her actions, and the rift that grew throughout her teenage years exploded in some pretty heavy drama about twenty years ago, and has existed through to this day. She’s in her mid-forties now, he’s in his seventies, but the two of them have NEVER gotten along. The best they’ve achieved is staying out of each other’s way, and maintaining a stilted veneer of politeness when they do interact.

I used to be petrified of my uncle, myself. But our relationship has changed since I grew up and moved away, and now I find him to be a pretty nice guy. He’s mellowed over the years, to be sure, and I’ve become much less of a twit than I used to be. I’m sure that helped a lot. So, we get along pretty great. I have a deep need for roots, and he likes talking about our family history. He lives in the house that I consider “home”. And, I never really gave him all that much trouble growing up. I think my sister holds that against me – kind of like I’m taking sides with him against her, when it has never EVER been that way. Really, I’d like to stay the hell out of the middle of those two.

They’re both very VERY proud people. Which is why my sister is going to be (is already?) ticked at me for calling him and letting him know what kind of desperate straights she and her family are in this year.

He was completely shocked at their circumstances, glad that I called, and is taking it upon himself to pay them a visit and see how he can help out.

And… I’m waiting for the fallout. But what else could I have done? She would have done the same for me under similar circumstances.

SIGH. Family is a complicated thing, even from three thousand miles away.

  1. Amanda says:

    She might be mad at you, but you know what? You’re a wonderful sister for doing that. You did it because you care. Things spiral out of control so quickly, in the blink of an eye.
    I think you know that I’m a foreclosure paralegal (although i don’t think Canada’s situation is quite as bad as it is in the US – yet – it’s still pretty damn dire right now). I see, on a daily basis, how someone’s mortgage arrears can go from $2,000 one day to $4,000 or more the next because of extra expenses on the part of the bank and because of legal expenses, etc.
    So if your sister can get help, she should get it NOW. Because later, it could be too late.

    Sorry for the novel of a comment.

  2. jen says:

    I think you did the right thing.

  3. Well…putting them together could go either way, but your intentions are surely the best. Pride can be a difficult thing to swallow sometimes. I hope everything works out well in the end and the two of them find common ground.

  4. iamheatherjo says:

    >But what else could I have done?

    Well, you could have stayed completely out of it, but you have far too good a heart for that. You care about what happens to your sister and her family. It’s in your nature to help, fix things and try to make everyone happy. That’s why you’re YOU!

    Sometimes doing the right thing, isn’t the easy thing.

    On the bright side…you ARE three thousand miles away and you have caller ID! 😀

  5. Kim says:

    I’m having serious family issues this month as well, which I find to be a pleasant and unexpected addition to all the normal stress of this month. That was a poor attempt at sarcasm. What I’m trying to say is I understand sort of what you’re going through. Unfortunately even when we try to do the right things and help people it sometimes bites us on the ass. It’s happened to me plenty. But I never want to stop trying. I hope your sister can get past the ego part (it’s very hard; I’ve had to do it) and realize the reason you did what you did. I also wish I could buy everybody I know a massage or at least a drink for this most wonderful time of the year.

  6. Taoist Biker says:

    Sooner or later, if she knows you at all, she will understand that you had the best of intentions. She may blow up in the short term, but in the long term that will smooth things over.

    If not, kick her in the crotch.

  7. Jeanette says:

    You definitely did the right thing, and your sister will realize it and thank you for helping to lift a burden off her shoulders!

  8. crisitunity says:

    MTAE expressed my thoughts exactly. I add that you have such a beautiful heart to do this.

  9. AmyD says:

    Family is the ultimate “damned if you do… damned if you don’t” situation, isn’t it?

    I hope she sees the heart behind your actions.

  10. Laura says:

    Amanda – Well, her home and the land it’s on are paid for, so at least they don’t have to worry about that. No, it’s the simple worry of putting food on the table and giving her kids some sort of a Christmas.

    Jen – Thanks.

    MTAE – Well, thus far she hasn’t returned my calls. That could either be because she’s busy, because the phone died (again), or because she’s mad. It can go any way, really.

    Heather – Yeah, and thank God for that!! 😀

    Kim – Oh, no worries. The sarcasm came through loud and clear! ~grin~ How ’bout we toast each other the next time we’re imbibing?

    TB – BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAAA. Dammit, Corn Nuts weren’t intended to come out the nose. Owie.

    Jeanette – Thanks. I just hope she accepts it! This not knowing how things turned out is driving me nuts.

    Crisitunity – Oh, well, I don’t know about a beautiful heart. Really, I feel like I’m tattling. 😀

    Amy – Really it’s “Guilt if you do, guilt if you don’t.” Screw it, as long as they can all have a good Christmas!

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