Saturday, 23 November 2013
I have two sisters. They're twins and a fair bit older than me. One sister has a brain injury and she pretty much lives her life filter free. She's often thoughtless but never mean. My other sister I guess would be considered the eldest. I've never been really close to either of my sisters. They married and left home when I was six years old. The oldest moved in with us when I was about twelve and stayed for about a year. I often babysat for her when I was a teenager. I cooked and cleaned and cared for her kids because her husband was not reliable, a polite way of saying that he was often drunk.
But I do remember looking up to my sisters, thinking they were all that. I wanted to be a part of their world, wanted to be included by them, wanted them to like me. I imagine that I wanted them to give me what my own parents could not, love and acceptance. I wanted to feel like I belonged.
My oldest sister did try to be an older sister sometimes but when I got pregnant at twenty that all changed. She was beyond angry, although how my pregnancy affected her life, I'm not really sure. I know that she wanted to adopt my son. She took her family and moved far away by the time my son was a year old.
I didn't see her for six years. She refused to come to my wedding and I didn't see her again until my middle daughter was born. Since then we have had an uneasy truce, negotiated and maintained by my mother.
Shortly before my mother died, my oldest sister told my mum that she should move into a nursing home, something that my mum was dead set against. It was one of her biggest fears, of being dependent. Six days later my mum died, feeling like she was a burden, knowing that most of her children thought she would be better off in a nursing home. I disagreed but then I'm the black sheep, the pain in the ass, the rebel, the difficult one.
My oldest sister was my mum's favourite, I know that. I also know how much it hurt my mum that her daughter would not come out and care for her when she needed help. My mum would not ask for help. I think she thought having to ask for your own children to help you was degrading, or maybe that's just my own bias. My mother helped all of us growing up, caring for grandchildren, providing loans, taking us all in as adults for periods of time. Until she was no longer able to, she was the family cook and organizer. And when she needed the most help, at the end of her life, her children did not come, did not help, stayed far away. Except for me, the difficult one.
I was angry for a long time after mum died. I told my sister this one day and she was deeply offended. I guess don't ask unless you honestly want to know. But I've been thinking about this while I've been reading this book. I know it's a book, I know it's not real but I also know that there are families where daughters talk to their fathers and where sisters support each other. That part is real. And I think I'm angry with my sister for not being the big sister I wanted and needed.
As an adult I realize that my sister did the best she could. She was raised in the same family as me. She never got unconditional love or acceptance either, she does not have that to give. But not all of my anger is because she hurt my mum, it's also because I hurt.