So, a couple or three years ago my sister and I were having one of our daily one hour phone conversations. Frequently we would chat about Mother - one of the only things we actually had in common. I remember we were saying that it was very hard to call Mother when we had a problem - she's one of those people who doesn't consider the feelings of others. Even her own children. It's always been this way.*
I remember saying "Unless it's about her garden or chickens, she's not really interested". My sister agreed, and at the time I thought that we had an understanding that our conversations were strictly between us, not to be shared. We had agreed upon that, in fact.
Well, I was wrong.
The next time she spoke to our mother she said something to the effect of "Gina doesn't want to hear about your gardens or chickens anymore". Wasn't that a clever translation? I'm sure that in her mind, it made her the good daughter, just for a little while.
My sister will always feel like she got the short end of the stick. Born 14 months after me, she was another accidental surprise, and not being born a boy, she was a disappointment to my father, who had wanted a son. She was a somewhat sickly child, suffering from extreme allergies and asthma, and was always very emotionally sensitive. It's just how she is wired. My mother was a cold mother - not one to hug or say I Love You. They were just things she did not do, until I had nearly grown kids of my own.
None of that is really OK, it's just how it was. Is. And I cannot in any way, change that for my sister. She chose to run away from home at 15, have a baby at 17 that she gave up for adoption, become involved with all the wrong men, enlist then get discharged from the Army, and marry four times. Four. Every day is Opposite Day for Melissa. She never met a piece of bad advice she didn't like...
So, to say she has had some missteps and made some bad choices in life would be an understatement. And yet, as my sister, I love her and so wanted to have a friendship with her. As children, we were close enough in age for people to think we were twins. We did everything together - playing, eating, bathing, sharing a room, walking home from school... Probably that is more nostalgic to me than to her. And yet, I always wanted to help - and I think my intentions were misguided. You cannot make someone's life better by giving them advice and offering help they do not want. Lesson learned. Only took me 55 years.
I really, stupidly, thought that, as adults, we could move past the "past" and find some common ground. My kids and her daughter attended the same schools. We saw each other at holidays and exchanged gifts, We know a lot of the same people. We lived in the same zip code, shopped at the same stores, are both in the medical field. We laugh at some of the same silly things.
Really, Gina? You thought all that would be enough to change things?
All it did was reinforce for her the differences. And to fight back, she waged a very sneaky campaign using my mother.
Exactly when the relationship all went to hell in a handbag is a mystery to me. I missed the slow burn of her anger and jealousy, but it did eventually cause us to part ways. And in a phone conversation every now and then, my mother will avow that I said or did something that I did not, and I will think, "Oh. Melissa". At it again. Or maybe its just that, my mother doesn't forgive and forget any better than I do. And she believes what Melissa tells that "Gina said".
And so when it comes up between my mother and me, (like it did last week), I always feel blind-sided. And no matter what I say, she will not let go of that nugget of misinformation. Because she wants to believe that Melissa loves both of us and is being honest... I chalk it up to her being elderly and set in her ways, not to mention emotionally naive . *But I also believe that my mother is autistic. And I don't feel right about holding a grudge against my mother - she's a much a victim of my sister as I am. And she's the only mother I have.
It reaffirms what I have chosen to do for the past few months. I might miss my sister - but what I really miss is something I never really had. I know that we cannot have that - now, or in the near future. Sometimes you don't get closure from a toxic relationship, especially if it's a family member.
It doesn't mean I won't hold on to a tiny glimmer of hope for a future conversation with her. But I am letting it go for now, and all of the associated anger, too. And who knows if it will ever be repaired.
My best guess is no.