Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sister, Sister

Now for something personal:

This is my sister. She recently forged our elderly mother’s name and stole thousands of dollars from her.

My mom worked six nights a week for years to support me, my brother and my sister. In her fifties, she took the GRE and got a job with the state. She was only able to save this money by living like a pauper. Once she retired, Mom insisted on subsisting on her social security checks, and banking the small pension she’d earned from the state.

It’s amazing how much interest can accumulate if you save every nickle and never spend a dime. She said the money was for her old age, so she wouldn’t be a burden to her children. Mom was sure she’d get cancer. She did. On her tonsils. Had chemo and radiation (The Tattoo Lady, Mother and Me), and beat it, although she still smokes.

Mom rescued my sister countless times from abusive relationships (White Lies), bought her cars, paid for repairs, saved the cars from repossession, paid down payments on homes, rent, and the list goes on. Every single one of my sister’s husbands and boyfriends were welcomed into Mom’s house where they mostly laid around. In order to discourage them from staying too long, Mom engaged in a peculiar form of domestic warfare where she put the lowest wattage light bulbs in their room and hid the toilet paper.

We — the sibs and Mom — laughed in those days at our mother’s eccentricities. We thought my sister would change, that things would get better. Why not? She’s smart and articulate, just has bad taste in men, and an addiction. To substance, yes, but more to a losing way of life. She's dedicated herself to bad decisions.

Mom’s heart is broken. She tried so hard to fix my sister, even lying to protect her when it put me in jeopardy. Mi familia. I got out, that’s my salvation, but my escape is only one of distance. I used to feel sorry for my sister, but this latest cut to our mother goes deep, beyond the blood, all the way to the bone.

"She’s bad, bad, bad," Mom says, all the orneriness gone out of her voice, making her sound feeble and old.
I think I might lose her any day, any hour, any minute, and it makes me so angry that my sister did this now.

All photos by author.


  1. This is absolutely horrible, you and your mother have my condolences. I too have "family" that at one point was like this. My uncle was in prison more than he was ever out, he stole anything that wasn't tied down and inflicted many hurts to alot of people, but mostly just my grandparents. There was even one point where he had wrapped a telephone cord around my grandmothers neck demanding they give him money or he would kill her, not a nice guy. But you know through it all I wondered why my grandparents didn't just disown him or something. They still went and visited him in prison, sent him care packages and even went and got him when he got out. Luckily today he seems to have finally grown up. Been out for about 7 years now and not only hasn't stolen anything or threatened anyone, he's gotten married (wonderful lady, btw) and now has step kids and calls my grandparents complaining about normal kid hijinks. Needless to say we're all very proud of him. Anyway, I suppose the point in my huge ramble (sorry, btw) is that perhaps there is always hope in the end. Maybe one day she'll wake up and realize how lonely she is and what huge mistakes she has made in her life by alienating the only people that truely loved and cared for her. Just my $ .02 they say, you can't pick your family. I do hope everything turns out all right and that your mom isn't to hurt by this either financially or emotionally.


  2. I am so sorry. As a mother, I worry about the dark side of my kids taking over. You never know -- we all have our unsavory side. How sad for your mom. She sounds like such a kind woman; I feel for her.

  3. I love the clever way you incorporate your 3WW words into a story and then put a real life situation in the tucks and folds of your blog post. Btw, I loved your 3WW post.

    I am so sorry for your mother. I hope there is some way for her to recover her money (life savings). I hope your sister can get the help she so obviously needs. But, alas you are not alone. I have a cousin who uses drugs and recently almost killed someone he was living with because of them. I always hoped he would come around and get a better life but, he hasn't. He thinks it's funny that he schemes and connives all the time. He's been in jail more than I care to recount. So, I can empathize with you on your story.

    Best wishes to your mom. Keep your chin up. You're not alone.

    Have a nice day.

  4. Your writing both fanciful and factual is quite good, but what's better is you have heart.

    Here's hoping your sister comes to her senses, at least momentarily, (and that her bottom doesn't kill her or hurt anyone else,) and is granted a spritual reprieve. It happened for me, I've seen it happen for others.

    Best wishes.

  5. Mom engaged in a peculiar form of domestic warfare where she put the lowest wattage light bulbs in their room and hid the toilet paper.

    Despite the seriousness of the piece, I found myself laughing in this spot. Creativity is what it's all about :)

  6. CoD: Thanks for telling me about your uncle. It's probably very shallow of me, and maybe sick, but hearing about other people's family horror stories never fails to make me feel better about mine.

    Gail: Mom was very kind in her youth, but she's become more grouchy and negative with age. In some ways she enabled my sister. Was it love or guilt?

    Michelle: The conniving, scamming aspect is astounding. Mom may be able to get some of the money back. We don't know yet.

    Richard: A spiritual reprieve would be a miracle, but perhaps . . .

    tc: when it comes to Mom the comic relief is ever present, no need to make it up.

  7. One great post with many shades to it.

  8. In the photo your sister has a hard set to her face. She looks determined to survive.

    I can see she's brought a lot of suffering to the family. But I feel for her too. You're all suffering.

    The only reason I know this is because you wrote the story so well.

  9. This is heartbreaking, Sandra. I don't think any pain can be worse than what your poor mother is going through. I'm so so sorry.

  10. Interesting question. Do we enable our children out of love or guilt. Or maybe it's hope? That bottomless hope you have that someday, somehow, they will get better, and succeed?

  11. The broken glass in the field sets the ominous tone right away. Good little bit for the fictional part. I'm sorry to hear about the family trouble; hopefully things will get better.

  12. Sigh. That is horrible! It's heartwrenching just to read about how hard your Mom worked and all she did, just to be robbed blind.

  13. That is heart wrenching. It's also beautifully written. I alway enjoy reading when someone can work their own stories into something which even though sadly tragic is beautiful.

  14. This was amazing. Beautifully writy And so sad

    I'm pretty sure your mother did everything out of love--sometimes guilt and love become interchangeable.

    My parents stuck with me during an abusive relationship though at first my father was convinced I was the bitch. It gave us an adult relationship and one that I will always be thankful for--sorry if this is too upbeat--I don't mean that sardonically--I understand the need for like stories

    But you don't live with your mother. You are, I'm sure the daughter she needs and will always be greatful for

  15. I followed the link to the Tattooed Lady piece - it is superb. Just brilliant.

  16. Finally got here, just before the next 3WW...
    This is so sad, but a compelling read.

  17. Excellent post, but a bit sad though.