Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday’s Child - The Desperate Cockroach Call

Originally posted July 8, 2007

In the fall of 2006 dad offered me “all the money I have in the world” to go and clean my sister’s apartment for her.
He sounded desperate. Said he would have done it himself except that he was old and sick.

No matter how many times I explained that a cockroach infestation required fumigation and should be done by experts, that neither Mike (I will not be alone with my sister) nor I could tolerate her cigarette smoke, and Mike couldn’t be around her cat, it wasn’t sinking through.

He’d repeatedly sent her money to get professional cleaners. Each time it was set up it would fall through. I never knew what happened. I can guess that she cancelled it or told them off or accused them of hurting her cat.
Anyway he sent her money for months, and it went to whatever. She complained to me at his funeral a few months later that he kept sending her money and she didn’t know why and didn’t want it.

Back to the call: dad begged me and he seemed quite upset that I was refusing. He went so far as to suggest that if I did it that sometime down the road I’d be happy I’d done it.
No, I’d resent hell out it and probably him, too. I didn’t say so, but I certainly thought it loudly.

He was so upset I told him I’d think about it.
That’s the absolute truth. I couldn’t help but think about it. It annoyed me for days that he thought I should go clean up my sister’s mess and be happy to do it.

I understand why I was asked: dad was plainly desperate to help Dawn even as she’d kept him on the edge of a sharp, thin emotional wedge for years. She complained constantly and blamed him for every little thing that was wrong in her life while simultaneously begging for money.

Did I resent the request?
You bet.
I’m not a martyr and I am not going to put myself in any situation where my well-being is at stake. Heaven only knows what else might have been incubating amongst the cat hair and ash trays. The worst part was dad’s unwillingness to accept that I didn’t want to do it and had good, solid reason for it.


the Bag Lady said...

Your sister made your life hell for many years, and may still attempt to do so in years to come. YOU don't have to let her.

Unfortunately for your dad, his sense of responsibility for her allowed her to make HIS entire life hell until he died.

The worst part of the entire situation is the fact that if she had accepted medical treatment, everyone's lives would have been better.

Leah J.Utas said...

Yes, that's true dfBag Lady. I suspect she'll be making every effort to convince me I am responsible for her life.

She was never made to take responsibility for any of her actions and that certainly had an impact on how she views her life now.

Reb said...

It is unfortunate the the phrase "tough love" wasn't part of the everyday vernacular back when it might have helped your dad.

I wonder too if what happened to Reynold and his subsequent treatment didn't have something to do with his attitude towards Dawn. Of course we don't really know if Grandma & Grandpa tried to keep Reynold at home, or for how long, but maybe there was some kind of resistance to "abandoning" a child instilled in him then? I could be totally off the mark, it just popped into my head.

Whatever your dad's reasons for responding to your sister that way, you don't have to. For her sake, I hope she gets the help she needs, but I don't see it happening.

Leah J.Utas said...

Excellent point, Reb. I hadn't thought of that angle.

I can't see her getting the help she needs for as long as she has the option of declining it.
That said, I'm not sure if I want to live in a world where that option is taken away.

Reb said...

No, I don't think I would either.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, how sad. I'm so sorry, Leah. Sounds like your dad is, for whatever reason, your sister's enabler, and I don't blame you one bit for protecting yourself and keeping your boundaries firm.

You and your family will be in my thoughts.

Leah J.Utas said...

Thanks, Thomma Lyn. Dad really didn't know what to do about Dawn and took a very narrow focus of her situation. She knew it perfectly well and manipulated both parents. She is aware enough to understand she can't do it to me.
I appreciate the support.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Leah,

The BagLady and Reb are better at addressing this than I am, but I do think that sometimes parents look at their children and decide that the stronger one should help the weaker one and the parents never let go of that thought.


Leah J.Utas said...

df Terrie - I appreciate reading your perspective on this.
May I suggest the stronger one could use a break on occasion?

Crabby McSlacker said...

It must have been so frustrating to have no support or validation for your needs, with the focus always on Dawn and what she wanted. I agree with Terrie though--however unfairly, it was probably assumed that your strength could be relied on in a grim and hopeless situation. I'm glad you didn't ultimately buy into the idea that your needs were somehow unimportant though!

Leah J.Utas said...

It certainly was frustrating, Crabby.
I'm glad I didn't get the idea my needs were unimportant.