The Chosen One - the Other Side of the Coin
I am a 56 year old woman and I am the sibling who 'was never there'.
My sister who is now 53, has lived in my parents home for most of her life. She's had off and on jobs (part-time work). She has traveled, dated, gone dancing and clubbing, etc. As the youngest, my parents didn't discipline her much and she was my mother's favorite.
To make a long story short, I was not my parents' favorite. At twenty, I developed a serious panic disorder with agoraphobia that kept me from doing just about everything - traveling, working, having friends - for more than 15 years (until I was put on medication).
My parents thought I was being lazy. They gave me the silent treatment or dirty looks for waking up late or locked me out of the house if I came home late from an outing with certain male friends with whom I became dependent on.
As soon as I was starting to feel a little better and after years of unemployment, I started work as a volunteer. Then I was hired. At the age of 40, after having saved my money, I moved out of my parents' house.
They were relieved when I left. In reality, it was the best thing I have ever done. I got close to my parents after all those years of strife and was finally able to establish a good relationship with them. I had been very hurt by the lack of love I felt from my parents.
I worked my way up in the non-profit sector to becoming a support group facilitator for people suffering from anxiety disorders. This took almost 19 years to accomplish.
Then the illnesses started.
First, it was my father. He started losing his memory. It was annoying and sad to see him this way. My mother did nothing to help him. He kept it all to himself but he told me that he was scared.
One day he was not able to walk without falling. I was working at the time but I knew that my mother and sister wouldn't know what to do so I brought him to his many appointments because I felt close enough to my father to explain to the doctors his symptoms and what my observations were.
After about 6 months, my sister called an ambulance to have him removed from the house. He was placed in a nursing home. It was a brand new specialized nursing home for people with Alzheimer's which I had researched and found for him.
About one year before my father was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's,
my mother started to walk more and more slowly. Her's was a very gradual decline. I also noticed at this time that my sister was slowly distancing herself from her.
I took my mother on outings and to visit my father (by taxi as I don't have a car). I also found a very kind (paid) companion to take her out every week to do her errands.
When my father passed away, my mother's condition had gotten worse but she had her companion and still lived at home with my sister and my mother's little collie, Maggie.
THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART OF MY STORY:
At this point I knew that my mother's condition would not improve. I also felt that it was too much for my sister to handle and that the house was not adapted for my mother (too many stairs, too large).
I suggested to my mother and sister that we should maybe think of changing our living arrangements to accommodate all of us -including my husband - by selling the family home and buying a triplex where we could all be under the same roof and help each other out. My mother was for this idea but my sister wouldn't hear of it. She was always very individualistic.
So, my sister stayed in the big split level house with my mother and Maggie the dog. She was not isolated as she went out with friends daily.
Her resentment grew and grew even though I did my best to help out. I took my mother to doctors' appointments, hair appointments and outings, I called her everyday and thought about her everyday, too.
My sister was offered cleaning help from our government healthcare service, she refused it. She was allowed 9 weeks respite per year from the government : A low-cost service for caregivers in which the elderly parent is taken care of in a medical facility to give the caregiver a break - she refused.
Last winter, just before Christmas, my sister left with a one-week notice. She 'borrowed' money from my mother to rent an apartment. She borrowed more money from my mother to pay off her credit card debts.
My brother and I had to find a place for her in the middle of winter. I couldn't take her in because I live in a one bedroom apartment with my husband.
Now my mother is in a long-term care facility. Her condition has deteriorated and she lost a lot of weight. My parents illnesses were very hard on everyone in the family. To be told that I 'was never there' is just not true.