Sunday, October 24, 2010

Defining Moments In Time

We’ve all experienced moments that have changed our lives, the big ones like getting married and having a baby and other monumental events that change our lives forever, well just till we die.  Today I don’t want to talk about obvious defining moments I am thinking of moments that sneak up on you and you may or may not know they are defining moments.  

I can honestly say I haven’t ever rushed into a burning building to rescue someone or even push someone out of the way of an oncoming bus.  Ok I can’t say I have done anything remotely like that and for the most part I am the most boring average person you will ever meet.  So my defining moments are those that have that have changed me in a way that changes the way I see the world or react to situations in a drastically different way or even helped me to understand where others point of view.  I have had occasion to realize one of those moments which when it occurred I didn’t see it for what it was I had to do a lot of processing and I do mean a few years of processing to get to the place I am now.  Funny how unless something is tested we aren’t even sure that a change has taken place.  I’m sure you will understand more after this story which by the way is true to the best of my recollection.  

Go back a few Thanksgivings….. I’m not sure of the year but I am sure of the event.  My Dad calls and says Mom is running a temperature and will be taking her to Greenville’s ER, now this is about a week after a “sludge removal” procedure done in at UPMC hospital in Pittsburgh.  Yes “sludge removal” was the ohh so technical term for an ERCP which for the life of me I can’t remember what each letter stands for but it was to remove sludge from the common bile duct.  A common complication this procedure  is pancreatitis, which is terribly painful but easily treated with no food for 2 to 3 days just IV fluids then clear liquids then soft food and you are good to go.  The other complication is where the bile duct, stomach or small intestine gets ruptured which causes sepsis that can lead to death at the worst and at best the shutdown of organs temporarily, been there done that with Mom, wasn’t a good time, but that is a whole other story.  This didn’t scare me much because I figured it was the pancreatitis and not sepsis so I knew it wasn’t overly life threatening so I told Dad that I would be down as soon as I could.  In the meantime they decided that since the procedure was done in Pittsburg they weren’t going to mess with admitting her there and send her right down where the procedure was first done, Joyce I do believe was with him and so I wasn’t worried.

The next day was Thanksgiving and by late evening everyone knew about Mom being down in Pittsburgh and the last time she was there she ended up on life support.  Anyhow… I decided that they shouldn’t be down there alone on the holiday so I was going to go down in the morning and for the most part the rest of the family would straggle down at some point being a holiday and all.  So I packed up Daddy a plate of dinner but before I could get out of here Joyce called and said Sue was panicked and she was too afraid to drive in the city but wanted to go ASAP.  I was like,,, inner groan… yeah so I called her and she wanted to go and being the nice sister I am I picked her up and took her. 

Things between have been rather stressed between us to put it mildly, and for years I have been trying to get my older siblings to like me and want to do stuff with me, but for the most part they weren’t having any of it.  So the ride down went OK but I felt a very large pink elephant sitting in the back seat the whole 2 hour drive but we chatted about nothing to pass the time.  The visit went well and it was just as I expected and Mom was already on the mend.  

Here is where the defining moments come in to play, on the way home that very large elephant would not be ignored any longer. Finally at one point Sue asks me, “What do you want from me?”  I answered with “I want you to love me like a sister.”  Then the moment came and with crashing reality my sister said to me, “but I have never thought of you as a sister.”  I was dumbstruck.  What do you say to that!  So I cried, and tried not to cry but failed as I finished the drive home with her telling me about how Mom wasn’t there for her and wasn’t a real grandma to her kids and so on and so forth then she went on to explain that I worried too much about having friends and I needed to learn to only need my family (husband and kids) and not worry about the rest.  Well needless to say I was so hurt I had idolized her my whole life!  So I dropped her at her house and come home, one hurt and rejected piece of a person.  More or less she didn’t think of me as a sister and didn’t need/want any more friends.  That ride back from Pittsburgh was one of the most defining times of my life concerning my siblings. 
I have always wanted to be loved and accepted by my older siblings and I do mean older Pat is 22 yrs. my sr., she is the oldest and moved out before I was born, and the youngest of the older 4 is 14 yrs. my sr.  We three younger kids who were raised together are really close, but they are more accepted by the older ones, but me nope! 
Fast forward to a bit over 2 weeks ago, Mom is dying in the hospital and all 7 of us kids are coming to spend time with her.  Pat flies in from WA and we are keeping someone there with Daddy all the time.  Well, I always knew I had screwy issues with my siblings but not with my parents I was very close to my Mom.  We spent a lot of time together over the years so I have no regrets and nothing that has went unsaid and I realized that Mom loved me and did the very best she could while raising me, that is all a child can ask in my opinion.  Apparently Sue who from that fateful night had her own demons concerning Mom but she was very quiet about it.  I know she had trouble with it but I tried to comfort her.  Pat on the other hand just had man demons and when she was helping the hospice nurse give her a bath Mom called asked for me, which really kicked her jealousy into overdrive since it was her fault I wasn’t there. Earlier she has literally dragged me from the room like a misbehaving little child and then chastised me. She must have missed the memo that I was now 44 and not 4!  I was upset and needed to go blow off some steam and talk myself out of doing bodily harm!  Just as I was hurry out to leave Joyce pulled us aside to ask about Mom’s obituary when I went to leave I told Joyce I trusted that whatever it was she did would be perfect and I said bye and turned to go, well not sure what happened, but the next thing I know Pat said “I love you” and I must have had a look on my face because she gave me that mommy look that says you are in big trouble and put her finger to lips like to shush me!  I have no idea what that was about but I turned and left.  Sorry it has taken so long to get to here, but another defining moment is coming right up! 

As I was driving home (I had an hour) I realized that I no longer wanted or needed my older siblings to either like me or acknowledge me, and that Sue wasn’t trying to be hurtful or malicious she was just being honest with her feelings and while it hurt me horribly I am glad she didn’t lie to me she just told me how it was.  When Pat told me she loved me the only thing I could think of was, what??  You don’t even know me and pretty much have thought and said not so nice things about me behind my back.  At this point I realized that when Sue was honest and I was hurt it was what I needed to let go of lots of issues I had and to allow others to claim their own and be responsible for them.  I felt sorry for Sue, even though she knew Mom at a different time in her life than I did and has so many issues she was losing her mom too, while I was hurting because I was losing a person who was a big part of my everyday life I had no regrets and it was OK for me to let her go.  I had a harder time coming up with sympathy for Pat who at a few different times that week yelled at me and was less than civil to me but I do forgive her mostly because she is so filled with emotions such as regret, guilt, and even though I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would be jealous of me but yes I do think she was carrying some of that too.  I hope that both my sister’s can overcome their ‘demons’ and remember the love that our mom had for them, she wasn’t perfect but she loved us with every fiber of her being.  

So one defining moment a few years ago lead to another one, and because of that first one I found a sense of peace.  I was able to hold my tongue and still be nice to Pat even though she was something of a shrew to me a few times. I do pray for both of them. 
Not all defining moments are monumental some aren’t even recognizable for what they are till you can realize the impact they have had on you.  I can now lay to rest all the issues I have with my older siblings and know I am good person and I’m less screwed up than I thought I was.  I don’t need their approval or even their friendship if they aren’t offering it.  Now all I have to do is not get irritated at the stupid things they say!  That I doubt will ever change. 

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