When I was a little girl, my mother talked to me often as if I were an adult. I didn’t always understand what she was talking about – adult subjects and language being so sophisticated and all – but I enjoyed having her focus on me so I just didn’t do anything to make her think I wasn’t interested. In the years that followed, I continued to be her confidante, sometimes a confusing and double-edged sword which I tried to diplomatically cover as best I could to spare everyone pain.
My older sister and my mother didn’t often spend time “chewing the fat” because my sister had her own agenda and rarely had the patience to sit and listen to story after story for hours. It didn’t really occur to me that by virtue of being a good listener and taking time to listen to my mother, I was unwittingly becoming a kind of chronicler for the family archives. After my mother passed away in 2018, I honestly believed I would be able to write her biography. I have not been able to put myself in the right frame of mind to begin doing so.
My parents were typical, hard-working, middle class people who came from very little but amassed a modest fortune and property that they intended on leaving their four children. For some reason (perhaps a fear that making a will would make them die that much sooner) my parents never made a formal will. Their properties in another country were “donated” to us years ago so that is not an issue, but they have one house that has not been willed to anyone. One of my siblings died last year and now three of us are left. Because of my attachment to my parents and their certainty in my integrity, I am the one that was authorized to help with their banking. It was also a matter of practicality: I was the one geographically close to them, I have never been estranged from them – taking a 6 month absence while I underwent therapy doesn’t count – and I have always been very, very responsible. They knew what they were doing and I have done my job honestly, efficiently and well.
The death of my eldest sibling did not affect me as it should have. I had no idea that she was ill but her lifestyle choices had never been optimal and her death did not surprise me. She and I were not on speaking terms when she died and although I feel some guilt about that, I have not been able to conjure more than passing grief that she left us just months after our mother died. Our father, though frail, continues to enjoy pretty good health and at 90 can still get around and manage his daily routines. This will not last forever.
My passion in life has been to entertain. I originally wanted to do it from a stage, as a comic, or a singer, or a storyteller. I have also always wanted to write and in fact, write every single day either in my blogs, on paper or in my head. My recent attendance at a Writers Digest Conference opened my eyes to the fact that I have never taken the time to figure out what it is I want to do with my writing. This is something that I need to address so I can get going. I am currently working on two novels but all the workshops and conferences emphasized the importance of being clear on what it is your intended purpose is in order to get going. It seems there are many different ways of attaining success but one thing is very clear, personal participation in the process from writing to publishing to marketing is dependent on the single creator: me! It is at once an overwhelming sensation and also a very comforting one since it means I am in control of the situation, if you will.
But back to my parents and wills…mental health issues abound in my family. I believe myself to be pretty healthy (is that a sign of mental health or a delusion?). My younger sister is paranoid. There is no way to rose color that. We don’t see each other very often. When we do see each other, I am often on the defensive, not knowing what word or subject will trigger her paranoia. Fortunately, I am getting older and less willing to be spoken to in any old way. I asked her today to meet me so I could show her a document I need to present on her behalf to the Municipal authorities in that other country for tax purposes. My idea was that I could present it for her because I live in said foreign country. Her immediate (and not surprising) response was that she would not be bringing her identification, that she wanted to talk about what she was signing and that she would rather fly and sign the documentation herself. I have no stake in the thing, that is fine. In the past, I might have been hurt or felt like she was accusing me of something. Now I just remember who she is, who I am and that mental health issues are often not as evident from the outside. It is sad and worrisome but I can handle it.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
bing.come public domain image