I know, perhaps that’s a bit harsh. But you need to know my family. Where to start; as you know I’m staying with my eldest sister and she is truly a ‘Godsend’ in all of my latest of life’s unpredictable/touchy/incalculable circumstances. And I think there is always a reason behind all of our circumstances – it’s always a God Thing – and in our case, perhaps the reason we were placed back together runs much deeper than we will ever know.
We have been moving me in; finally done – check. Then it was getting the tree – check. Lights on the tree – check – and decorations? Check, check. Now, there was a bit of a break down due to the fact that my sister is a bit of a control freak – just a little one. But I wonder where she got that from? And to know the answer to that you need to know our mother who was the epitome of “Control Freak”.
Our mother did everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – on her own. After our father passed I guess you would deduce that she had to. But I’m guessing that this was how things were done in their marriage. You did not mess with Mrs. Merrill’s decorations – permanent or temporary. If she wanted something in a certain spot, it was there – no matter what. We had a term for her – we four – we called her Mighty Mouse – she was all of 5′ 2″ with socks on and only about 100 lbs. But that didn’t stop her. She built our fences, our over hangs in the front and back; sewed our clothes, hung all the Christmas decorations, did all the baking; I mean this woman did it all. We even had a garden that the neighbors envied. We would kid her – we lived at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains – by telling our friends that it was a lucky
thing that she liked the position of Mt. Baldy. Otherwise she just might move that mountain and they would be hearing on the Evening News.
So I really can’t blame my sister. And she’s not alone. We sisters, all three of us, carry this “control” gene… But since my move in, it has been a back and forth between the two of us with me trying to get it into her head that having people over is more about “getting together” and less about “perfection”. That there is not a right way or a wrong way of doing anything. Just because it isn’t the way she would do it, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily strange or incorrect; it’s simply different – here I am talking smack where I would be the same way, but I too am telling myself the same things. It’s all a whole wonderful learning experience – ain’t it grand?
Then we have my other sister. Now first I must tell you that she has helped me a great deal – and continues to – and I will forever be truly grateful to her for all that she continues to do for our family. Now, may I say? She is such a PRINCESS! She’s very quirky in that she must have her own room – won’t share or she will go to a hotel – not a problem you say? It is to my oldest sister who seems to think she can’t get through the chaos without her. She likes having her things just so; so much so, she has a suitcase just for her bedding. Apparently she has special bedding “fluff” – which includes her 600 thread count sheets – that she carries around with her when she travels. Now, I have friends who must have their own pillow, but your own bed? Let’s face facts, she is on the road quite a bit, so I guess it’s safe to say that she knows what she wants and she wants what she wants when she wants it. I mean this girl is set! And planned! She has our schedule planned right down to the last second. Seriously, what ever happened to just chilling’ and reading or, I don’t know playing cards, walking. Although, with my brother and his ex-wife, I guess I can understand why she would want to keep things moving right along.
But that aside, this is a woman who, as a young woman, majored in the arts and found that she enjoyed and might pursue a career as an actress and even more so as a director. In fact, why she never pursued such a career is beyond me. But she is talented in what she currently does and has managed to carry that success for many years.
On a personal side, I’m afraid to say I don’t know much about her. We grew up five years apart and were the ever so typical daughters that were dressed a like – more out of convenience and budget than for ‘cuteness’; our mother didn’t go for that sort of nonsense I can assure you, she was far to practical and too original. My middle sister is very much her own woman and to look at her I would have to say she’s more masculine than feminine – not in bad way at all. Just that one would never get the sense that she is any ‘slave’ to fashion like most women. She is very stylish in her own way, much like Kate Hepburn was in her time. In fact, if I were to describe her, Kate would be the perfect comparison. She wears men’s shirts, prefers the comfort over fashion every time. But again, she wants what she wants and when she wants it. And she likes what she likes and that’s that, period.
Now, my brother. This is a man – extremely intelligent – majored in music – the classics. He started the piano at the age of nine and was playing one of the largest and oldest pipe organs in the world by the age of fifteen. By the age of 16 he was asked to be the Assistant Organist. Think about that for a minute; seven (7) years later… could you do that? I can tell you I couldn’t. Anyway in college while he worked his major, he took Aerospace Dynamics just for fun; he aced the course. He did stuff like that. He’s made at least nine feature films. By the time he graduated college, he wrote and composed the music for Sleeping Beauty the musical that they put on for their Senior project – it was FABULOUS. He was informed by his maestro that he was only a year or two away from attaining concert level. He had his ticket. And then there’s his writing; again GENIUS!
On the personal side. When I was a child I was only a year old when our father passed away so I looked up to him, almost like the father I lost – oh, he was much too young to be my father, but still; we were so close, we were inseparable. We would stay up talking into the night – as long as it wasn’t a school night – about all sorts of things, religion, philosophy, my dreams, etc… It was because of him that I had much of what I had in high school and was able to go to many of the events in high school – mother had very little money at the time and was drinking pretty heavy by that time – problems between her and me were pretty bad and he was the buffer.
But somewhere as he grew older, after his forties, his politics changed. Everything changed. Even his humor – we call him the punster. This is said not so much as an endearment but rather more of an annoyance; as it done more in a way to reiterate his degree of intelligence in comparison to the rest of us. Then there’s the issue with his drinking which got worse and kept getting worse by the year and soon by the week/day. It got so bad that finally everyone felt I should by the one to talk to him, so I did. This ‘talk’ didn’t go over very well; but do they, really? After that call he was horrible to me and me alone; I feared I lost him. I received several nasty calls from him. Calls of accusation after accusation. All of which finally stopped after my husband at the time had a discussion with him.
The issue is that he is different and we all are. Then there is the issue of his ex-wife who he is living with and will be moving out (?) question mark – it’s all a great mystery. She is very nice; she took our brother – her ex-husband – in when he reached “bottom” and had nowhere to go – I was getting ready to drive him to Tent City. So I, all of us, will forever be in her debt.
That said, there are issues here as well and honestly, the largest one? Her refusal to take any responsibility for any of her problems. She appears to take responsibility, but only under the guise of self blame in the hope that someone – anyone will come along and reassure her by saying something to the effect of, “no sweetie, this isn’t your fault, it’s that ex-husband of yours” or “it’s your mother’s” or… fill in the blank. Quite frankly, she loves to spend money, it’s an addiction with her and was one that was easily buried in my brothers drinking. When their children were younger and she had custody, during their young lives they had been evicted from their apartments/homes at least 2 or 3 times. Now the first time something like this happens; well that happens. But the third time? Something’s gotta give and somethings gotta change.
Facts are facts; she and my brother need to fess up and step up and help those children of their’s – now young adults – with some direction and with what it is they want to do with their lives. The parents are running around without any self-control for themselves. Oh, they talk a very good talk, but no action… It is very frustrating. We Aunts have offered, and send money – we always have. And ALL of them – the kids too – seem to only tell what they think we want to hear.
Ah, that’s ok I guess. After all it’s none of our business. Until they try to make it our’s; then it’s urgent. You see, we don’t hear a peep until the bottom falls out. Then again, with our sister-in-law, as with our brother, much of this falls in line with the stuff from her childhood. That which she learned and that which was done to her – much of it painful. So we can’t place all of the blame on her shoulders. She truly does try to do the best she can and she would give the shirt off her back. Her heart is in the right place – even if misguided.
Bottom line is that as misguided as their mother’s or their father’s hearts may have been, they ended up with two of the most well-adjusted children we could have ever hoped for. Their daughter is a bundle of talent – I just wish she would realize it and grab it. But again, it’s not my life she is living, it’s hers. My only hope is that whatever path she chooses for herself, she is happy with every step. And that she remembers she is worthy of all the riches this wonderful life has to offer.
Their son has it in his plan to join the Air force. It has always been his plan to fly jets and to be an officer. He is on the path, has done everything to set the plan in motion and we are very proud of his accomplishments. We are very proud of them both for it must not have been easy for either of them.
It’s all so difficult to understand because it all changes from one day to the next. And this is where my sisters have difficulty. They try to make sense of it; but how do you make sense out of dysfunction? I’ve stopped trying to make sense of it. I stopped back when I confronted our brother about being an alcoholic and received those horrid calls. I’m done with all of it – Alanon 101. I will love him, I love all of them, but that is all I can do. And that too, to love them means that I love ALL of them – warts and all – not what I want them to be or think they should be. This is their life to live, not mine to live for them. This is their journey. They have their’s and I have mine.
So, this Christmas should be very interesting indeed. I’m actually looking forward to it. Very much. Yes, there is hope in the air once again. I can feel it and I can see it in my sister. Saw it this last weekend for the first time in what seems like forever – Hallelujah!
We all have our quirks, but the fact remains that this family loves each other. It was something that was ingrained in us when we were little. Our mother would say “you are all you have, remember that, cherish that and each other. Love one another always.” We’ve never forgotten that. Most families go years without talking to one another, we at least talk once a month – if not a week. And it is a legacy that has been passed onto the next generation.
Six Days until Christmas and let the LOVE begin. Merry Christmas everyone. Blessings to all!
- I Want to Believe… in Santa. (danceswithchaos.wordpress.com)