Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finding Home

It is amazing how quickly priorities can be set when there is an emergency. My sister is ill. Mostly, she's scared.

I'm here with her.

We know what's going on and she'd prefer I didn't write about it. I won't. I can say that I truly believe it will all work out and be okay. Not an easy road, but a manageable one, without a doubt.

That doesn't mean there isn't fear.

I think about my mother and how she would have treated my sister is she had called her afraid. She would have told her to buck up, take care of it and be done. Stop complaining.

One time, I was dealing with a cancer scare- I had several bad pap smears and I was headed in for a biopsy. My mother told me, oh, I'll never forget my first cancer scare... and also proceeded to tell me that it was no big deal. A quick D and C and I'd be fine.

I had a little baby at the time. All I could think of was him, and being alive to see him grow up.

Of course, he was cute then, not a sassy teenager like now. Not that I would reconsider.

I'm glad she's not alive to be that mean to my sister. She can't take it. I could hardly take it, but my sister cannot. Too many years of telling her that she's a piece of shit has made my sister actually believe it.

I still do, too, on some level.

So yes, I jumped on the first plane I could and headed for Savannah. Jeanine being mighty woman handling everything while I'm gone- as long as I'm not gone too long. My boys will be very worried. They love their aunt bolderdash, as we call her. She is goofy, silly and always breaking the rules. She and I end up like a stand up routine, with me as the "straight" guy.

I have to keep a serious face so the kids know I mean business while she cracks joke after joke, teasing me endlessly.

I love my seester. And it's not because she's the only family I have left, although she is the only family I have left, but because she and I have found a way to disagree on almost everything and still love each other deeply. We have a core understanding of our childhood and gave each other the reality testing both of us needed.

You're not crazy.

You sure?

Yes, I remember that too.

Without it, I'm not sure I would have made it through some of the bumpier parts of my life. we were not that close as kids, ironically. My mother had her laser set on my sister and was always certain any trouble or problem was caused by her. I stayed away, for a long time, until I realized my mother was turning the laser on to me... I sought my sister out.

My mother hated that. She knew there was a triangle and she hated it. She wanted me to herself, and did not want my sister and I to bond together. As adults, she would sneer when people would ask if the three of us were close (we have another sibling). Cathy and Sara are... as if we had done some great wrong by doing that.

We were the girls. We were treated with a different set of rules and expectations. We were never good enough, smart enough, successful enough. As much as I was criticised, I have to be honest- I suffered nothing compared to my sister. If words were knives, my sister would be ribbons after a half hour phone call.

I know, because she always called me right after. As I always called her right after talking to our mother. It was a triangle, no question. We liked it that way. Without each other to hold onto, we never knew if we really were that piece of shit we were just told we were.

There are a few friends that I end a phone call by saying, "love you" as a reminder that indeed I do, and that life is always precious. I never want my last word to be angry- even when I end yelling at the kids, I always pull myself together to say, and you know, I do love you. I am very angry right now but I love you.

My sister and I, however, started after my mother died. It was deliberate, thoughtful- not a quick 'love you' but a "I love you, sis." No one could ever take that away from us. We had a lot taken away from us as children, so much it brings tears to my eyes to begin to think of it. But no one can take my sister away.

The irony of her illness is she has been working so hard to get healthy. It is painful to the core. She's shed almost 100 pounds, has been exercising and lecturing me daily on how to eat right- I never remind her I was the one who got shit for feeding my kids all organic foods when they were babies, and still to this day, regardless of the cost. I'm so proud of her, what she has accomplished, I listen every time.

And so I'm here with her. I will always be there for her. We are both getting older and it's becoming apparent to me that I need her closer to me. I cannot stand that she is all alone when she has three nephews who adore her like a rock star, and my wife who bonded on a deep level over a Wegman's deluxe brownie treat years before (a long, hysterical story that must be told by the two of them).

We joke and call each other "seesters" I don't know why but we do. We have goofy ways of talking to each other that drives Jeanine (mrs.serious) insane. My sister is the only person who can still make me laugh so hard that I pee my pants, or send my beverage out my nose with some of the most inappropriate humor you can imagine- often about the abuse we lived through, in a way only someone who was there could appreciate.

Jeanine shakes her head at me, and I shrug, might as well laugh. If I start crying, I'm not sure I'll stop.

I have so much in my life now. I want to bring my sister to where I live now, close. I want her to know the love and acceptance I know has been so allusive to her. We will drive each other crazy, no question. But when we sit down for family dinner on Sunday night, as we almost always do, I want her to be at the table.

She will crack jokes about the table, as it was my mother's and I can personally attest to a few miserable moments we spent sitting at it-

the battle I had with my mother about ketchup on the table comes to mind-

I want her there because she is my family. I can't stand her being alone. She deserves to be wrapped up in the same kind of love I am. Every day.

I'm going to bring her back with me. The place we grew up will never be home, filled with too many ghosts at every turn. I hope she finds it a place she can call home.

Because she's my seester. And no one can ever take that away from us.

15 Comments:

Anonymous donald said...

sorry cathy is not doing well, but am glad you are bringing her to new england. i only met her once, at the wedding, but enjoyed her, and look forward to getting to know her better. hope she can stand all the love we share with each other!

going out for the father's day brunch that the boys are making for allan and walter. sorry you will not be there with us! even got to enjoy jake's ballgame yesterday.

drive safely and get home soon!

9:28 AM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I am thinking of you and your seester and sending thoughts of health and happiness.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous lez zorba said...

Sweet, rich, touching post.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Ulla said...

Your mother sure sounds like a nasty piece of work, if you'll excuse me for saying so. Her not wanting her kids to bond, basically because it might counter her abuse, really takes the prize. That's evil.
I'm an alcoholic myself, and I'll tell you - you can't blame all her bad behaviour on drinking.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I'm sorry I left you with that impression. my mother could be very cruel. and had moments of wonderful love, too.

she had no tolerance for whining.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Ulla said...

I've been reading your blog for a while, though.
Obviously, I have no right to judge your mother or your childhood, but you seem to generally blame her dysfunction on her drinking.
I just wanted to convey my opinion that your have to look beyond you mothers alcoholism for explanations.
I hope your sister will soon be better and able to continue her quest for better health yet.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Im sorry your Seester is not well.

I hope she improves...

... your relationship sounds WONDERFUL! I am envious. I have one sister (who lives with us) but she might as well be an alien. We are totally different and very difficult to deal with.

Sending you good thoughts!

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wish her a speedy recovery. take care.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

your mom was definately scary didn't want her mad at you that is for sure. Did she ever figure out it was you who did the corrupting lol. Glad to hear cathys journey is managable and will have a good outcome. tough road but doable. love and hugs to both of you.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

Love to you and your sister. How special to have someone you can reality check with.

Hoping she is well cared for and in good spirits.

XO Heidi

2:12 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

um, suzy? you were corrupting me thank you very much.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Seda said...

May your sister be better soon.

I'm glad you are on good terms. I've come so close to losing both my sister and my brother - it's wonderful to hear of your special relationship, though scary to hear of her illness. Best wishes to her, and to you.

1:17 AM  
Blogger LilliGirl said...

I'm so sorry she's traveling this rough road but glad you are there to hold her hand along the way. Prayers to her, you and your family.

1:36 AM  
OpenID excathedra said...

Tell her we're sorry she's not doing well and we all wish her well.

3:54 AM  
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9:02 PM  

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