Awkward encounter

So, last Friday night, my youngest sister and I went out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays.  (Hers in October, mine in January.)  After our dinner, she was supposed to pick up our other sister, the one who does not speak to me, from our grandmother’s house.  Because of the location of the restaurant, grandma’s house and my house, we decided the most sensible thing would be to stop by my grandma’s house on the way.

I knew that I would encounter my sister, obviously, but I am not about confrontation.  We arrived at the house and Estranged Sister was in the driveway retrieving something from our mother’s car.  I believe I said, “Hi,” on my way to the front door.  Once inside, I found my grandmother sitting in her office at the back of the house.  My mother sat at the desk and my grandmother sat in front of the desk.

I knelt by my grandma and she held my cold hands and told me how happy she was that I was there.  I had no idea but I’d walked into the middle of a dramatic situation–for that was the last night my grandmother was to spend in her own home.  She’s been living alone since my grandpa died in 1987.  She is 101 years old, nearly 102, and a few weeks ago, she fell.

As she tells the story, she lost her balance while trying to get her nightgown over her head.  Next thing she knew, three firefighters were in her room.  One said, “Do you know where you are?” because he was concerned that she might of hit her head.  She said in an indignant voice, “Of course I know!  I am in my bedroom!”

They lifted her up and put her on her bed.  She did have to go to the hospital but had no broken bones, just some bruises and scrapes.  That fall put into motion a series of events and my mother and my uncles and my cousin had decided that Grandma would move in with my cousin so she would no longer be alone and vulnerable.  (Oh, and did I mention that my grandmother is blind due to macular degeneration?)
My mother said, “Melodee, Grandma has some news!” and I said, “Grandma, do you have news for me?” and she acted surprised.  “News?  No, not really.”  And so my mother mouthed words to me and wrote a note and began to cry.  (The note said, “Mother is moving to Cindy’s.”)  Later, when we were alone, I said to Grandma, “So I hear you’re going to stay with Cindy?” and Grandma said, “Well, we’ve talked about it.  I’m going for a few days.”

That threw my mother into a sobbing panic.  In the driveway, she said to me, “We’re moving her chair and her bed!  What if she is upset?” and I said, “She’s just scared.  She’ll be all right.”  The transition from living alone, as she has for twenty years, and moving in with someone is enormous.  But everything will be okay.  At least that’s what I insist on believing.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as I sat in my grandma’s book-filled office, I was aware of my sister’s presence in the other part of the house.  How awkward.  After a while, I walked out and talked to my cousin.  My other sister had told Estranged Sister that we’ll be giving her a ride.  (My other sister’s car is at my house.)

Eventually, we say farewell and head to the car.  Estranged Sister puts her suitcase and stuff in my trunk.  Here are the things I said to her on the way home:

1)  When was the last time you saw Grandma?  Did she look much different?

As usual, I was the one who made attempts at conversation.  Estranged Sister answered the question and that was that.

My other sister and I chatted most of the way home.  I may have directed another question or two toward the backseat, but I can’t remember now.

I invited her into my house for a second while my other sister came in to get something.  Estranged Sister stood by the doorway, picked up a newspaper from the recycling pile and read it for the few minutes we were inside.  She didn’t say hello to any of my children.
We could hire a therapist full-time for the rest of our lives and never untangle the knot that ties us together.

And now, she’s back in Japan.

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Awkward encounter

19 thoughts on “Awkward encounter

  1. As another one in the middle of such a mess…and I’ve been in it for over 16 years now…I sympathize. All I can say is shame on those who have such unforgiving hearts!! But it’s THEM who lose in the end, every which way you look at it. Here AND in Eternity.

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  2. Sally says:

    You reached out to her & tried to engage her in conversation, but she chose to freeze you out. I applaud you for your courage, & I can empathize. As lame as it might sound, at least you know you tried, & now the ball is in her court. Your grandmother sounds like a great lady; cherish her!

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  3. I’m sorry. I know how you want to heal the wound, tie it back together. You can only add a bit of ointment when allowed and perhaps one day she will allow the bandage be applied. Pride is a hard thing to let go of and she did the wrong {if I remember correctly? the photos} Maybe just pop her a little note and say you thought she looked well and you love her in spite of herself or yourself.
    Very glad no broken bones and I do so hope the transition goes well.
    For all of you

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  4. I’m so sorry about your grandmother! It can indeed be a very rough transition, and I hope everything goes well.

    As for your sister, blood is so not thicker than water. Who needs crap like that?

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  5. I am so sorry about all of this. I know how you feel though. I am canceling a trip to see some relatives because of a family fued. One that I shouldn’t even be involved in, but somehow have landed smack in the middle.

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  6. Jen says:

    Mel,
    You can find comfort in knowing that you tried to do the right thing. It is miserable being bound to someone who just won’t reconcile. Forgiving her can be done on your part, without her. Reconciliation requires two parties….You’ve done what you can. God knows that. Your cyber family loves you and appreciates your struggle and your courage. Kudos to you for rising to the occasion and offering an olive branch, even though it wasn’t received well.

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  7. Amy says:

    I’m so sorry, sweetie. It sounds like you are doing so much right by reaching out to her while maintaining healthy boundaries. (Hello… too much time in therapy for me!) By the way, I’m totally enjoying Persian Girls to the point where I’m becoming very antisocial. I’d rather read than talk with others!

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  8. Mrs. Damian Garcia says:

    Take my word for it Mel. If you keep thinking of this situation it will eat at you. In January we finally gave up on a relationship that we had tried to mend. It was a hard relationship to work at for the past 12 years but dare I say I feel SO much better, and so does my husband. I didn’t realize just how hard it was on our (my husband and me) family to try to be the good Christians that we should be. I finally asked God to forgive me because I just could not keep it up. And I believe that God ended that relationship just days later by email from this family member. God knows how much we can take and in my situation, ended it just like that.

    Mrs. Damian Garcia

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  9. Simone says:

    I’d take Mrs. Damian Garcia advice and don’t let it consume you. I am in a similar situation with my sister and totally understand your fustration. She is who she is but you can choose how you react. Shame on her for ignoring your children, that just shows the irrationality of it all.

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