This last week, Gloria went back to Arkansas for a reunion and to raid the remainder of my grandmother’s house.
See, her sister Debbie went back there and left with most things of any value when she dragged Agnes out to California because she was no longer capable of taking care of herself.
Let me give you some family background on these people. Every member of that family has fought with every other member of that family for as long as I can remember. My mother and her father fought because they were both loud, strong-willed and stubborn people. If Ralph said something was white, Gloria would decide it was black. Gloria has hated her sister Debbie for as long as I can recall for a list of sins including that their father got to be there while she was a baby but was still in WW2 when Gloria was born. Gloria has been convinced for years now that her parents only loved Debbie and not her. She says they have favored her (which seems to mean didn’t fight constantly because Debbie let them win), vacationed with her, bailed her out of financial jams one right after another. Agnes has left most of the valuables to Debbie and her family in her will. For these reasons and the fact that Debbie never invited my mother to a family dinner for her wedding, instead leaving her at home to make mints, Gloria has hated Debbie, said she always played her parents, that she is controlling, etc. Debbie hates Gloria for being controlling, for always being in Gloria’s shadow growing up, for going off to college and leaving Debbie with her mother going through menopause, for traumatizing her as a child while Gloria was left to watch after her all the time, for many sins, most of which were not really Gloria’s fault just as the ones Gloria hates Debbie for were not really Debbie’s fault. My grandmother, Agnes, has been a cranky old woman who fought with most everyone she knows for as long as I can remember often seething for years over what was completely a misunderstanding. Debbie has fought with both her parents in her own passive aggressive way for as long as I can recall from everything I can observe.
They all hate each other and continue to pretend that they are a functional family even so. They go off at each other, accuse each other of things constantly, have extreme fits of paranoia about each other and their intentions. They all have a tendency to say cruel things and it is always assumed that when Agnes says cruel things, it is because Debbie or Gloria said them to her about the other of them. In my experience the woman is quite good at being judgmental and cruel without any help. She is overweight and has high enough blood pressure because of it that she’s been having mini strokes for years and yet she is constantly telling other people they are fat. If you point out however carefully that none of the women in the family are exactly thin, she will immediately tell you that because she’s been at the same weight for 20 years, she is exempt from all judgment, as an example. They all know what each other’s hot buttons are and press them constantly just to get a rise out of each other.
I didn’t go to my grandfather’s funeral in large part because I was physically nauseous at the idea of dealing with Debbie and Gloria and the raid of the house to steal stuff before the other could get it as quickly as possible. My grandmother isn’t even dead and they are doing the same thing with each other about her stuff. They both have taken shit just to spite the other. They are both infantile children.
I once told my grandmother that Debbie and Gloria have hated each other for too many years to be capable of being executors of her will and suggested she list some neutral third party to attempt to divide things between them. She told me that Debbie and Gloria were her children and by God she was going to make them get along if it was the last thing she did, or to hell with them. This gives you the general idea how capable any of them are at not trying to run each other’s lives. They at least came by it naturally, I guess.
So as far as I can tell, this is the part where “to hell with them” comes in. They can’t get along. They can’t agree. They both want control. They both resent each other. If anything Debbie’s hatred has grown because she resents that her mother is pissing on her carpets, messing up her house in her half aware state and instead of being frustrated with the situation and looking for a solution, she’s added it to the things she hates Gloria for making her deal with. Gloria didn’t really make her deal with it. Gloria was her usual irresponsible and thrifty self and Debbie got fed up with her and decided to do something. Fine, but she can’t take responsibility for that decision, either.
And now my mother wants to drag me into figuring out what to do with her sister and the petty nonsense they are going through at the moment because she isn’t very good at strategy these days and needs every plan ratified anyway. All I want done on the subject is to be left the fuck out of the mess. Apparently Debbie is attempting to put me in the middle of it, too. I once reached out to her in an attempt to find some functional family. Having known only my mother’s paranoia about Debbie growing up, I didn’t know if she was a reasonable person or not. So I tried for a bit to correspond with her. Among what I talked about was my broken relationship with my mother at a time when I was still a VERY angry person about the whole thing. So Debbie has apparently ferreted all of that away to bring out and wave in Gloria’s face to back up her determined belief that Gloria is the only one with a problem. She apparently doesn’t recall the fit of paranoia and panic about control that she had during which she decided that because her mother was cruel to her, I must somehow be passing the information along to feed that cruelty and refused to speak to me further. Or perhaps she does recall and just like Gloria, anything she does is justified, anything anyone else does is because they are demonic or something.
I wish that I could lock them both in a room and not let them out till they’ve worked it all out and can let go of the past and their misplaced pain about their childhoods. I wish I believed that either one of them might be able to be a grown up about their lives. I wish I didn’t have to rely on caller ID to manage my extended family by not talking to them. It’s really sad. Now to decide if I should even bother to point out to Debbie that the “ammo” she’s waving about is half the story and that I think they’re both stark raving fruit loops.