My parents had four children together. It was myself, my sister Valarie, Michael and David who we’ve always referred to as ‘the boys’. Because of this my sister has always claimed that she is the middle child. And being the middle child has given her a fair share of leeway. At least in her head.
She can be bratty because she’s the middle child. She can have the first cookie because she is the middle child. She is the favorite because she is the middle child. Pshhh. Paaaaleeeez.
When mama came to live with me Valarie, who lives more than 200 miles away, became my anchor. She asked very early on what she could do to make things easier for me. I told her that I could handle the finances, the schedule and the day to day. But every once and while she would have to make herself available to listen to me complain. And whine. And cry horrible, helpless sobs of frustration. I was dealing with all things mom so she would have to deal with me.
In the beginning the phone calls were daily. She wasn’t taking her medicine. She is being mean to me. She’s complaining about what I’m feeding her. I was trying hard to make mama comfortable and she wasn’t adjusting well. Not to treatments or loosing her sight and definitely not to living in my chaotic house filled with puppies and people. As a result my sister had to do a lot of ‘dealing with me’.
She had been on a long string of trips and work was nuts. In other words, she probably didn’t have much patience for me on this fine day.
It was early and I had just dropped mama off at dialysis. It had been a particularly difficult morning because my mother didn’t want to wear the clothes I had picked for her. She wanted the t-shirt my sister had bought her. And did I know where the pants that Val sent her were? Or that comfy bra? Val, she said, knew what she liked. Val, she said, knew how to pick clothes for her. Val, she said, wouldn’t dress her ‘funky’ like she was sure I was doing.
I called my sister in tears.
“Can you please just come home and take her shopping so I can stop having to fight every morning?”
Valarie, half asleep, tried first to reason with me. She had to travel for work and couldn’t come home anytime soon. There was money on the bankcard she uses to send mama cash.
“Nessa just take the card, buy some stuff, put it in a box and say I mailed it,” she said.
Between sobs I admitted that she would never know. It’s not like she could see the box. So I wiped my face and drove to the store. About a $100 and two hours later I had several options.
I took them home and put them in a beat up Amazon box. I didn’t even tape it back up. I was nervous. I kept thinking her third eye was going to kick in and she would know that I was lying. She had just finished her lunch and gone to sit on the couch. In the afternoons she likes to listen to Ellen.
“Mom, this box was delivered today. I opened it because I thought it was for me but clearly it was meant for you,” I told her. “It’s from my sister.”
One by one she pulled out the blue jeans, shirts, new underwear, dresses… She was soooo excited. So was I.
YES!!! It’s freaking working!!!
She commented on the soft fabrics and length of the dresses and the fit of the jeans. My sister always chose so well, she said.
A few days later my bestie, who was completely aware of what had gone down, picked mom up from dialysis for me. She called me after she took her home because she wanted me to know how happy my mom was about the clothes.
Mama told her three times that she needed to remember to call my sister and thank her. AGAIN. For the THIRD time. She also said that she would have to ask Val where she bought everything so maybe she could go back and pick up a few more things. This was hilarious to everyone but me but hey, it was making my life easier.
Later that week mama did make me call Valarie. AGAIN. She as on speakerphone in the car so I could hear everything she was saying. My mom told her how wonderfully everything fit and how much she appreciated Val for saving her from the horrible things I had been dressing her in. Mind you, these are the clothes she came with and had picked out when she could see.
Sarcastically I reiterated to Valarie how much mama had loved everything that she had picked out and that she was just so good at it.
My sister laughed.
“It’s because I’m better than you.”
If only she could see me flipping her off on the other end of the line. Because she is the middle child I’ll let her have that one.