15 May 2016

The thought that one day I will just stop communicating with my siblings. I wonder how long until they notice? Maybe never, maybe with the same huge relief that I will experience.
Don't, says R, it would be a shame. 

To which I reply: We don't have to like each other at all. But for now we need to look after the stubborn old man in his shiny car. And even that has become a competition. Sometimes, I imagine that my sister is keeping a tally sheet on who he calls more often. She is so mad at me, her emails are like little explosions. This family is my ongoing source of sarcasm and arrogance. We goad each other on and have become experts in snide remarks, well hidden in best wishes and little anecdotes. Whatever it takes to be just nice, I haven't got it.  We never try anyway.

Sometimes I swear I can hear my mother hiss and clamor from her non existent grave. I told you so, you are all good for nothing. 

Meanwhile, the Ice Saints are upon us, today is the feast day of Sophie with a harsh wind full of pollen and the odd drop of rain. R is out there weeding and digging and planting like there is no tomorrow., while I drink pots of tea working my way through the translations of the myriad novel approaches to breast reconstruction. Please, dear women: never miss a breast scan if you can help it.

Yesterday, I did a bit of my civic duty and stood behind a police barrier watching a handful neo nazis shouting their convoluted slogans of hate and fear. I tried to remain all dignified and grown up but when this grey haired hippy behind me started to shout, Oh shut up you assholes, I found myself joining in with wild abandon. I know, I know. It doesn't change a thing. But it cleared my head for better things. I hope so.

This is my mother before she became a botanist.


  1. I'm on the other side of the fence (no, not THAT one!)I'm the mother wishing her children communicated with each other more --- why do they think I had five of them --- for my mental health?

    And good for you on the wild abandon shouting!

    If your mother was not a botanist already in that photo I'd say she was well on her way...

  2. In four days it will be one month since my sister and I spoke. We had a huge misunderstanding, miscommunications, good intentions gone awry, suspicions, and bad feelings. This is the longest I've ever gone without talking with her. She didn't even call on my birthday. Yikes. This kind of pain reminds me why I am a hermit and a recluse.

    Really glad you shouted out. There are some things that require a good deal of screaming about these days.

    Love that photo of your mother. My mother is moving 3000 miles east next Saturday to live with my older brother in Virginia. So many changes, so many changes.

  3. Love the photo of your mother! Families are always challenging, but I tend to agree with R -- maintaining the contact is important because in the end, they're the ones who HAVE to stand by you (and you them). Or so my father told me years ago.

  4. I just spoke to one of my sisters for the first time in over a year. I was planning on never speaking to her again after she misbehaved at my mother's wake, but she just became a grandmother for the first time. I just didn't have it in me not to pick up her call. It was quite pleasant. Perhaps conversing with a sibling once a year is enough? We are sisters, we don't really need to have an actual relationship, right?

  5. I'm friends with my sister after 47 years. It's a long story but families can be such a cluster fuck, mine no exception. We talk frequently, almost every day. She's in Florida and I'm in Seattle, very far away from her. We are planning a boat trip in September for a week.

    I feel like I've rediscovered a friend, a wise and funny friend.

    But families. Lordy.

  6. A friend just posted this on Facebook and I wanted to share it with you:
    "Both sisters managed to be offended. They sulked for five minutes and couldn't forgive each other, until they forgot about it and went back to their gossip, which circled eternally. All the siblings felt sometimes, as the days of their holiday passed, the sheer irritation and perplexity of family coexistence; how it fretted away at the love and attachment which were nonetheless intense and enduring when they were apart. They knew one another so well, all too well, and yet they were all continually surprised by the forgotten difficult twists and turns of one another's personalities, so familiar as soon as they appeared." Tessa Hadley, "The Past" (2016)