An Open Letter to My Husband's Sisters
We'd still be friends if she'd just had the courage to tell you the truth
An open letter to my husband’s sisters,
I didn’t believe your mother. I could not believe that she was setting all of you up to wound each other and destroy your relationships after she was gone. I was flabbergasted that she could not be talked out of it no matter what I said, when she changed her will and chose not to notify any of you because she didn’t ‘want to hear it now. You all can sort that out after I’m gone.’ I was appalled when your father, 24 hours before he died called your brother and me to his room and with anger in his eyes demanded that we promise to ‘protect your mother’. WTH? From what? From who? All he would say was ‘you know what I’m talking about.’ All I could figure was his great fear of dying in a nursing home being transmitted to his wife. I have spent countless hours in the last five years assuring your mom that no one was going to let her be cared for by strangers. None of you would want that. Her fear has never abated. She watched all of us very closely while we were helping as your father was dying. Something that happened during that time convinced her that given the added responsibility of her care you would institute her and her only hope of staying in her home was her son. She made him promise repeatedly. Even now, everything she says and does is motivated by unrelenting fear that she can push her family far enough to ‘give up’ and send her away. You can’t conceive of how much I hate being wrong, but you have proved her right. Given the responsibility of her, you would have chosen institutional care for her. It doesn’t make you wrong. It doesn’t make you bad children. It simply proves her intuition of your inability to do what she wants. And it certainly doesn’t mean she loved or trusted any one of you more or less. It proves that she knew enough about your lives and burdens to know that you weren’t going to be able to do what she wanted. And it proves that she knew that her son is incapable at the heart of this to break his promise to either her or your father. And neither of them are ‘here’ to try to make you understand the reasons for their actions.
I have spent a lot of time this past year examining my life – endless hours of time talking about her past life, the ups and the downs, the happy and the sad, the pride and regret will give anyone pause to look at what you really are. I have concluded that I learned a lot about love from her the past 30 years and she taught me more about the importance of forgiveness than anyone I have ever met. I have tried to love you as I have loved my own sisters. It took me a long time to realize that that kind of relationship is not possible for us, but it has never made me stop caring about you and your families. I have forgiven your slights and digs and I hope that you can forgive me doing the same to you over the years. It makes me sad to think that pain and sorrow inflicted by your parent’s decisions in the past will now continue to wound this generation and the next.
I feel as if something is broken now and I wish with all my heart I could make you understand that your brother has no agenda in this whole tangled mess to harm you or wound you. Where family is concerned it really is better to just get along than to be right. I don’t think any of you realize how catastrophic his recent hospital stay was to his health and how profoundly that has affected all of us. It has reminded me that the length of our lives is uncertain. We are just one blocked artery or one miscalculation while driving away from never having the chance to forgive or be forgiven. So, I want to take what may be my only opportunity to ask your forgiveness for anything I have done, intentional or not, that has caused you pain. I offer my forgiveness in return. I continue to pray for you and your families.
Unless something changes, I’ll see you at the funeral.
(February 2017 - she passed in March of the same year. The Brother died of COVID in 2021. There was never any reconciliation.)
About the author
I write. Some days it just falls out of my head. Others it has to be wrung from my brain like a towel through and old-fashioned washing machine. Most times I stare at the blinking cursor while I ponder why I do this. It helps.