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Monday, August 25, 2008

Quiet Decisions and Noisy Indecision

I wonder, which is your comfort zone? Absorbing information, checking back now and then and making a decision. Or constant back and forth in indecision.

My sister is definitely the latter. I am definitely the former. It was decided that, as I had handled everything to do with sorting out all the paperwork and settling the estate, which included forking out not insignificant amounts of cash, firing the original lawyer/executor and finding an alternative solution to getting through probate, my brother and sister would take care of the sale of the house. Between them they have decided that she will take the easier part of cleaning it out and getting it ready for the sale. My brother will handle the sale, itself.

Months back, a neighbour of my parents, a wonderful woman, had offered to start clearing out the house (which Rhona was supposed to have done while she spent an extra week in Scotland after our mother passed away in January). I agreed to this but when my sister found out, she had a hairy. How could I treat Mum's things like this? How can I let a stranger go through her things? Well, I had done that because she had failed in her duty and had constantly told me she was too busy to go over there and do what she'd originally promised. This woman is utterly respectful of our mother and was like a daughter to her in the years after my dad passed away (she's my age). She was never too busy to visit with my mother, never too busy to cook for her, never too busy to help her out. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell my sister that she'd been more of a daughter than her own daughter ever had been. I bit my tongue instead.

So now, finally, Rhona is over there. The last time, she had her boyfriend travel over and they spent a week doing everything BUT sorting out the house. This time she is bringing another friend to 'help' her. And now the emails, text messages and even requests to call her, have started. What do I do with this, what do I do with that? Should I leave sheets and towels in the house? What about the heaters? Do I have to return the gas bottles? What about the kettle and microwave? The DVDs and books? Should I leave the bathmat in the bathroom? For each question I refuse to give her a definitive answer. Instead I try to edge her toward her own decisions. I know that's not what she wants, however.

I'm still not her 'friend', it will be a while before I can be that again as there is frost in the air between us. I'm her sister, yes, but it's time she didn't always rely on someone else to make decisions for her. Silly little decisions that she should be able to make as she took on a specific responsibility. The only one we've asked of her. This is just so indicative of how she leads her life. Relying on others to make decisions. And sadly, she does it so she can apportion blame, should the decision prove to be an incorrect one. I say this from 45 years of being her big sister and seeing her constantly rescued from her bad decisions. I played my part in aiding and abetting for too long.

I'm tempted to quietly decide and help her, but I know it's best for her if I just leave her to her own noisy indecision. Besides, they're both motivated by greed so I'm sure they'll get it done, in the end.


Loving Annie said...

Is your sister a substance abuser, Fiona ? The behavior you describe makes it sounds that way.

Learned helplessness is infuriating.

Even if she isn't, her lack of decision making, simply getting things done and thinking ahead properly would be beyond aggravating. My empathy to you.

Your Mom's friend sounds like a wonderful woman. Too bad your sister doesn't appreciate her for what she offered to do, and then started.

After your sister did the drama thing with that, it's hard not to step in and do it all yourself out of disgust or for the sake of efficiency.

I'm ruthlessly organized, and it actually brings me a measure of peace and calm to have things taken care of promptly.

Being motivated by greed doesn't make someone smart, unfortunately. Sometimes it makes them penny wise and pound foolish.

I hope I haven't offended you by being so blunt about how I perceived Rhona because of this. Tact isn't on my resume most of the time... I need to learn more compassion and patience, I guess.

Hope they do get it done. Before 2010...(ooooh, I'm evil :)

Boy, look how many buttons just reading this pushed for me !!!!

Veracity said...

Sometimes it is tempting to help and bail a loved one out but you are right to do what you do and leave her to grow, evolve and become more independent.

I think this to be a much more loving act... for her and for yourself.

She will thank you... one day! ; )

D G said...

"the best way to help others succeed is to help them succeed on their own." or something like that.

S'mee said...

And still it goes no Fi. I'll know when everything is finished, I'll hear the sigh.

You know I couldn't have cleared my mother's house without the help of others. I was well aware that if I had been able to do things myself, more revenue could have been generated, but we all were only too glad to get shot of things and get on with life.

I keep thinking what would have happened if my mother had still been with us.

SUH if it will help.

IanS. X

Fusion said...

It was on the tip of my tongue to tell my sister that she'd been more of a daughter than her own daughter ever had been.

Wow, exactly how I feel about my mom's primary caretaker Fiona.
You mention how simular you felt about our sisters, and damn, you're right.

In my case though, she would never finish the job I'm undertaking now, and that's because of her substance abuse of prescription drugs.

And maybe I should have Annie come over and help me out too ;)

Fiona said...

Oh Annie, I like blunt :) I tend to be that myself. Yes, you hit the nail on the head, my sister is an alcoholic. Yet to admit she is, but she is. HAS to have a drink as soon as it's possible, sometimes even in the morning. Will drink until there's nothing left, then switch to whatever is around, even if she doesn't like it. Drinks to the point of blackouts - she's conscious and very nasty, but says she can't remember anything (I still have my doubts about that). I would do it myself, I started to, with the help of my mum's friend - and now my friend :) but she slapped me down, so let her get on with it. Personally, there's nothing left in that house I would want, I have memories of my parents and I know I was there for them. I think her hanging onto material things has a lot to do with trying to salve her own guilt. Hahahahah oh I bet it's done by 2010, they want the dosh. They don't need it anymore, it's the final 1/3 of the estate to be distributed, but they are motivated by greed.

Veracity - I agree, hard though it may be for her to do this on her own volition. I'm staying hands off, I spent six months sorting out my parents' estate (and all the paperwork that was left when my mum passed away) alone and without any help from either of them. In fact the day after my mother passed away, they left the house for the entire day with the excuse that they aren't good with paperwork.

DG - yes, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."

S'mee - I hear ya!! She's got this false illusion that by doing this, she's involved in my parents' lives. Too little, too late. I was so honoured that my mum's friend wanted to help out in that way, to be there for the family. She's a great woman, a wonderful friend and gave my mother so many wonderful moments in her final days. She even turned her home over to Steve and I when we visited Lower Burnmouth, so we didn't have to stay in a dusty, fousty house. There will be a VERY long sigh, you're right about that.

John - we can certainly relate! I didn't even try to involve either of them in the estate matters, I knew it would go the wrong way if I did. But as for the house, it it's done in a month or six months, it doesn't really matter. That's why I left them with that one thing to take care of.

When this is all over, when I get my dog and cat back, when I sell my apartment in Tenerife, all my ties to my sister are severed. Whether we are involved in each other's lives after that, I don't know. I cannot forgive her for how she was when I visited with Steve, not ever. Our relationship has been altered, irrevocably, from that time. I will never trust her again.

Sunny Delight said...

It reads as if you have a good handle on all this...

I am wondering though...how many more phone calls and emails have there been from R just since this posting? *S*

Fiona said...

Hahahahahaha Sunny - how did you guess. A couple of emails, couple of requests to call her (she has no credit on her phone) including yesterday when I got an urgent text to call her. I did, only to hear that the vacuum cleaner wasn't working and what should she do. A few expletives later, I told her to ask a neighbour to borrow theirs. I really am not quite sure what she expected me to do!

And very interestingly, this WEEK she planned to be there has turned into arriving late Monday afternoon and leaving mid-day on Wednesday. She spent the first few days in Edinburgh and is going back there for the rest of the time.

Yup, just like I predicted. But I don't care, anything not done, my brother will have to take care of. Tis nought to do with me.


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