Friday, 2:13pm. It’s been a long week. I’m still waiting for some additional results from the doc, but should know Monday and will post about it then. For now I am going to enjoy my weekend as much as possible. Tonight we are  meeting friends for dinner and then the comedy club. Tomorrow I get to watch “Little Bear”, who I love and adore. He’s having a sleep over too and I’m sooooo excited! It’s been awhile since I’ve had a little one in the house (he is almost 2) so I’m sure I’ll be on my toes. Hopefully the weather will be nice and we can actually do something outside. Have a great weekend everyone! I’ll be writing my final two parts of the P.C.H.A. next week. Promise!


I’m grateful that I went to get my girlie parts checked because I got a letter in the mail saying that my results came back abnormal. I go in this morning for a biopsy of my cervix and further testing. I debated sharing this on my blog but right now I am feeling the need to reach out to all my “sisters” for support. It’s not really the kind of thing you post as your fb status either. So I’ll go in and my most fabulous doctor will take a tiny piece of me to determine exactly why I am abnormal. Shoot – I could have already told her that – I’ve never been normal. Wish me luck!

Sorry to any of you who have been waiting patiently for this. As you can see from my last two posts I was back in Hawaii and that was an adventure in and of itself.

I’m going to cut to the chase for several reasons: First, each time I add a part to the saga I find myself re-living the experience and my anxiety levels go through the roof. Second, if I keep it at this level of detail there will be 20 parts and I’ll be 50 years old. Third, I really want to write about a lot of other fun and happy stuff that is going on in my life.

We got back to the house and my nieces and I took the kids upstairs to play Karaoke Glee and Just Dance 2 on the Wii. We were having a blast when guess who appeared. I had a very deliberate conversation with my self in my head talking myself into trying one more time. It was my birthday after all. I invited her to come and play with us. The next 30 minutes were actually a lot of fun. I sat back and watched as they all sang and danced together. I almost forgot about the issues we had been having and it truly felt “normal”.

I digress…In the beginning we were peas in a pod. Only 14 months apart and we were inseparable. We even dressed alike. Probably cause I was my sister’s size by the time I was 3 and bigger by the time I was 4. My older sister actually got my hand me downs – including my coveted jeans with Shaun Cassidy’s face painted on the front lower right leg. She was my hero and I worshiped the ground she walked on. We shared a bedroom and until we were 8 and 9 even shared a bed. I was afraid of the dark and she was always cold. It was a win-win situation – she was brave and I was warm. I remember one day she was sick and couldn’t get out of bed. She was upset that she was going to be missing her piano lesson. We were 4 and 5. I took her book and walked across the street to the teacher’s house, knocked on the door and said I was there to fill in for her. I didn’t even tell the General, I just went. I wanted to make sure I could tell my sister what she had missed. I came home and performed “Hot Cross Buns” for my family and my sister clapped for me. Nothing could have made me prouder.

Something happened as we began to grow up. I will never forget the day I ran into her room ready to participate in whatever game was being played. She was there with a friend and told me to leave. She had moved on and I was devastated. I ran into my room and cried myself to sleep. We never played together again and our roles began to shift. She went from being my hero to being my nemesis. If she chose left, I chose right. If she wanted black, I wanted white. I also began to take on the role of protector. My sister didn’t have a lot of friends, in fact she pissed off a lot of people. She was arrogant and had an ego the size of an elephant. I realize now it was her way of compensating for low self-esteem but at the time she would run her mouth and I would have to step in and be the person who saved her hide. I always secretly wanted our relationship back, but it wasn’t to be. The older we got the more different we became and rather than embracing each others differences we attacked them.

So that evening as I sat and watched my kids and my nieces and my sister dance and sing I caught a glimpse of the past, set in reality and it made me smile. I’m glad I got those 30 minutes because I won’t forget them.

My nieces left and my kids continued to dance with my sister. J came and cuddled on my lap while A stayed. My sister decided to teach A some of her “dance moves”. Unfortunately these were not moves that she had used in the prior 30 minutes. They were new moves and I can only describe them from my own experience – because the people I have only ever seen dance like this have been strippers. I don’t know about you, but saying to a six-year-old, “Too bad we don’t have a pole”, or “this is how you bounce your booty”, are totally inappropriate. I’m pretty open, but I’m not that open. Just then my sister started to let A twirl while holding her by the hand. The problem was A was twirling but my sister had her by the hand so tight, I was afraid she would hurt her. I didn’t want to tell my sister what to do (been there, tried that) so I said to A, “Careful baby, you don’t want to hurt your arm.” My sister didn’t skip a beat and said without even turning to address me, “You know I’m not as stupid as you think I am. I wouldn’t ever hurt her.” I let it slide and just passed it off as one more of her stupid back biting underhanded comments. She obviously was bitter and I really didn’t want to fight.

They continued to dance and my sister started getting touchy with A again. At one point she looked down and said to A, “You have your Daddy’s feet.” REALLY??????? Did you really just say that to my kid???? A immediately looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I have a DAD!!!” To which I replied, “No honey, you don’t have a Dad, and neither does Jackson.” Oh if looks could have killed I would have been dead. I then addressed my sister, “To have a Dad, you need to at least know who the Dad is.” I probably could have held that to myself but I was over it. The truth is that A was born as the result of prostitution. Finding her “Dad” is about as likely as finding a needle in a haystack.

My sister changed the game from dancing to singing (mind you she also continued to dance like a stripper). I asked the kids to come and sit with me and we would watch. She shot me daggers again and said they could stay. I calmly replied, “You know I only have my kids half the time, and so every moment is precious to me. I really would like to spend some time with them too.” She rolled her eyes and continued.

The next few minutes are a bit of a blur. My niece came upstairs and as she was talking to me, Liza approached us. A ran to her and started to remove her bracelet. I gently said to my daughter, “A we don’t ever touch other people’s things without asking them first.” My sister unraveled on me. Right in front of my kids she pretty much told me that I was a Nazi. She went on to let me know that A’s behavior was a direct result of my parenting and not her drug exposure in-utero. I was LIVID and I wasn’t going to let her get away with it. I realize I shouldn’t have started fighting AGAIN in front of the kids but all I saw was red. I unleashed a verbal fury on her with everything I had. My mouth was a machine gun and my words flew out of me like bullets. How dare she tell me that ANY of A’s problems were because of my parenting. How dare she use drugs while she was pregnant – not one drug, but every drug she could find. When A was born she tested positive for 7 substances. You name it – it was in that little baby. How dare she put that tiny precious soul in danger – that same tiny person who had to go through a horrible withdrawal where her body would seize and she would shake for three straight months. Where was she for any of the therapies A had to endure? How had she contributed to the amazing child A is and has become? I didn’t stop at A either, I went through 21 years of her inept choices. Alix, Punky, A, Joshua. How many diapers has she changed? How many high fevers did she stay up through the night with? When was the last time she held a child who had a nightmare?

We were millimeters apart, almost nose to nose when she said to me, “Back the f*uck up or I will take you out.” My response? “Oh Liza, don’t give me a reason to make this world a better place.” With that I took my children downstairs, gave them to my niece and said to my father, “Either she goes or I go but I will not have my children around her.” It was pouring rain outside and by this time it was almost 11pm. My father offered to take her home. I refused to allow him to do that. She lives over an hour from the house and the rain was so heavy coming home from the restaurant we could barely see. I told him that if she didn’t leave I’d even call a taxi and stay at a hotel. I didn’t care, I just wanted to be away from her. He went to talk to my mother and I went to make sure my children weren’t going to be scarred for life. All of a sudden there was a crash at the foot of the stairs. I jumped up to see what it was. She had hurled J’s backpack intending to send me a message that she didn’t give a shi*t about him or about me. His new toys from Christmas were inside and the sound was horrible. I ran up the stairs to see her standing there with a smirk on her face. I hadn’t actually “seen” the backpack thrown so I asked who had done it. The only people upstairs were my sister and my niece. My niece pointed to my sister behind her back. My sister flat-out denied she had done anything. I packed the rest of my suitcases and bags to take them downstairs while she started in on me again, threatening me and calling me every gutter name she could think of. I screamed for my father who came upstairs and told my sister to leave the house. She tried to fight it, but he stood firm and after a few minutes she left, but not without ranting the entire way out the door, across the driveway and down the street. I moved my things to the front door, intending to leave if she returned. The General, in what I think was an attempt to help said to me, “You know you are dealing with someone who has half a brain, be grateful you have all of yours.” She went on to tell me that my sister took pride in making me angry, and the angrier I got, the happier she was. I said to my mother, “That is the definition of PURE EVIL.” I also said that I would have the last laugh, because she was never going to be allowed to see A again.

I took my sleepy babies upstairs and we cuddled and talked about what had happened. I explained that sometimes people fight and that I was sorry they had to see or hear any of it. I made sure they were okay and tucked them into bed for the night. A few minutes later I heard the front door open and my father tell my sister to go with him to the back patio. They stayed out there for almost 2 hours talking. I didn’t dare go to sleep until I knew my sister was either gone or sleeping downstairs. I’m glad I stayed awake because for some reason she got angry again while talking to my dad and came in the house saying she was going to throw all of my things into the street. OH HELL NO YOU ARE NOT!!! I sprinted down the stairs and grabbed my bags and took them up with me. I looked at my dad and told him that under NO circumstances was she allowed to come up or be anywhere near me or the kids. I even said that I was enforcing a restraining order on her. Come within 50 feet of me and I will dial 911 beeeeotch. I turned and marched up the stairs, not paying attention to anything she was saying to me as I walked away.

She left to go and get high and returned about 4 o’clock in the morning. Thankfully she climbed into bed with one of my nieces and fell asleep. The next morning my parents gathered all of her belongings, woke her up and told her to get in the car. Before she even had a chance to realize what was going on they were pulling out of the driveway and she was on her way home. The house was immediately peaceful. It’s hard to explain but the energy totally changed. It’s like there had been a demon amongst us and it had been exorcised. My oldest niece was upset and came to me in tears saying that her mom always stayed until New Years day. I asked her what price she was willing to pay to have her mother there. Liza had fought with Alix, my mother, my father and with me. Were we really having quality time? Was it worth the pain just to have her there physically? She agreed with me and after I gave her a huge hug I suggested we go do something fun. An hour later we were sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and I finally felt like our vacation had truly begun.

My sister didn’t return while we were there.  The result? We got in some major bonding time with my parents and my nieces and enjoyed every minute with them. I’m excited to write Part VII because it will be dedicated to all of our fun adventures. I would say that the remainder of our stay was perfect but there was that visit to the E.R. on the day we were scheduled to leave – that will be explained in Part VIII but I will say that I was the patient and I have also fully recovered (didn’t want any unnecessary worry out there in blog reader land).

Here are a few of my favorites. The first few are from California, we visited the final resting place for Michael J*ckson. My kids love him and his music and it was touching to see how they reacted to the flowers and gifts left there in his memory. The rest are from our time in Hawaii.

D got a job with Delta airlines a month ago. Free flight benefits baby!!!! So why not take a trip to see the General? D had a rare 4 day weekend and won’t have weekends off for a bit so we packed our backpacks and jumped a plane to LAX with J and A in tow. We were ready for adventure. We landed in Orange County (original destination was LAX) very late Friday evening, picked up our rental car (thank you brother Joe) and drove to Aunty Wendi and Aunty Bethany’s house. The kids were super excited to be there and hard to get to sleep. I think the last of us to shut our eyes did so at 4am. Morning came quickly and after breakfast it was time to leave for the airport. We made a quick stop at MJ’s crypt – very cool place that he was buried and amazing to see how many people leave fresh flowers and gifts there daily.

By the time we landed in Hawaii it was dark outside and we were so tired. My parents were there to pick us up and drove us to the house where we showered and crashed. The next few days were awesome. The General and I visited the graves of my grandparents and took fresh flowers from my parent’s yard. That was very meaningful to her, and we were able to talk just the two of us while we sat on the hillside surrounded by the most beautiful mountains ever. I’ll post pics later to illustrate. The kids ate at their favorite restaurant, they played with my niece, got spoiled by my parents, played in the hose for hours and hours, jumped on the trampoline in 80+ degree weather and made friends with other kids in the neighborhood. My favorite part of the trip was watching my parents interact with my kids. It was heart warming and those are the kids of memories that last the longest and are most meaningful. I also love to watch my parents with each other. They have been married almost 43 years and are still so much in love. They are an example of how it’s possible to work through problems and make the most of a relationship despite individual weaknesses. Nowadays it’s just way to damn easy to give up.

We got up really early on Tuesday morning to get to the airport. Once there, it became apparent that there had been flight delays. Passengers were stranded and there wasn’t any way that we would be getting on the early flight. Twelve hours later there wasn’t anyway we were getting home that day, so I had my Dad come get us and take us back to the house. Having another evening with family was great, but it had come at a cost. We were exhausted and I worried about D’s job and the kids getting back to school (both of which wound up working out just fine).

Wednesday we were finally able to get onto a 2pm flight to Los Angeles. We arrived there at 10:30pm, rented a car, drove back to Wendi’s (thanks Wen), crashed, woke up at the crack of dawn, and drove back to the airport. Four hours later we had to get on a plane to San Francisco and then another plane to Salt Lake City. My kids were so delirious when it was all over they actually were confused walking into the house. J even said, “Mom, I thought we were going on another airplane?”

I woke up this morning in my own state of delirium. You know that state where you want to puke because you are so tired and everything takes three times the effort? I headed to work still grateful for the perk of flying home for free, but also feeling the reality of not feeling very perky at all. I think next time I’ll fly free somewhere closer – somewhere close enough that if I have to drive home I can.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’
in the comments for all to find and see.

Little Bear, Apollo and one of the most beautiful places in the world.

December 28, 2010. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing? No? Shame! It was the day I turned 40 and I’m pretty sure it was headline news. F-O-R-T-Y. The big four-O. The age you reach and realize that your youth is behind you and your mortality is in front of you. I frequently forget my age. I think it’s because I gave birth to J at age 35. Sometimes when I go to pick up the kids from school I look at the other moms and there is a moment when I realize I could be their mothers. Ewwwwww. Ok – I’m going right back to the denial I came from.

Hawaii – 85 degrees and rainy. That’s what it was for the first two days of our trip. I love the rain. I find it mesmerizing and calming. I especially like to fall asleep to the sound of the rain on the roof and all of the trees. In Hawaii when it rains it RAINS. People wonder why Hawaiians carry umbrellas on sunny days. That wonderment vanishes when they get caught in a 30 second down pour that will soak you all the way to your undies.

I woke up and made my daily pilgrimage to McDonald’s for coffee. When I returned I thought it would be a nice gesture to throw in a load of laundry for the General. I noticed a dish towel on the floor and bent down to pick it up. It was soaked and very slimy. I realized that water was coming out from under the wall that adjoined the laundry room and kitchen. I immediately notified the General who then yelled at the Pansy for trying to “mask” the problem. We called Jim, our handyman and he came over to discover that the refrigerator had been leaking for months – and on top of the water there was black mold hidden behind the sheet rock and cupboards of the kitchen. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

We got the fridge out and into the driveway against the house and began the very gross task of sucking up the water that had accumulated. I think I emptied the wet/dry vac at least 20 times and it has a 5 gallon capacity. Because much of my parent’s main floor is tiled, the water had seeped through every nook and cranny possible. The vacuuming went on for 3 days before the water stopped surfacing. Then there was the problem of where to put the food. The General was raised by a woman who was raised by the depression. This means that you DO NOT THROW FOOD AWAY. Even if it’s moldy you freeze it and then maybe one day you can extract the spores and make something out of it. The General’s side by side was STUFFED with food, as was the deep freeze and 2nd side by side in the garage. I think in Hawaii food = love. If this is true, I have one of the most loving homes on the island.

Funny, my sister and nieces were nowhere to be found in this crisis. It was me and the Pansy. The General retired to bed, completely overwhelmed by the circumstances. I’m glad she did  because who knows with her current health if she would have even survived the entire episode. I had roughly 2 hours to re-arrange the remaining fridge/freezers to accommodate what had come out of the kitchen. Tick-tock. Good thing I’m a Project Manager by day. I gutted everything in the garage, threw away more turkey carcasses than I could count, and anything that looked freezer burned. I chipped away the ice that had accumulated for God knows how long, wiped out the interiors with a mix of clorax and dish soap and then re-packed both appliances. When I was done it looked like a highly skilled game of tetris, with everything fitting as best it could.

The babies were outside with me enjoying the sunshine. In Hawaii we don’t play by the same rules as the mainland. They got out the hose and played in their underwear for hours. I’d throw chunks of ice on the driveway and they would pretend they were icebergs. Before long they were sitting on skateboards and pretending to be on canoe’s at sea. I bet 20 cars drove by and not a single person thought two kids in their skivvies was out of the ordinary. I think that morning was actually their favorite day of the trip.

I found it ironic that as I was rinsing out coolers and laundry baskets my sister emerged. She came up to me and hugged me wishing me a happy birthday. She also expressed to me that she was sorry, and that she hadn’t meant to over step her bounds the last two days. She wanted to have a great time with me and with the kids and she seemed sincere. I told her everything was fine and left it at that. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up the black mold mess in the kitchen. The Pansy and I worked until afternoon searching and killing anything that looked like bacteria. After a shower we all loaded up and headed to my absolutely unequivocably favorite restaurant in the whole entire world. It was my birthday after all and Thai food was on the menu! AGAIN, my nieces had to wait for my sister to get ready. AGAIN they showed up 40 minutes later and AGAIN without my Sister. Apparently she ran into more “old friends”. By the time she sauntered into the restaurant, acting like God’s gift to humanity – we had already eaten half of our meal. She had the nerve to demand we order more of a dish that is a family favorite. I turned to her and stated without any emotion, “Those of us who were here 40 minutes ago enjoyed eating Yum Yai. What you see here is what is left.” She was noticeably pissed but kept her mouth shut. We finished the meal and headed home. AGAIN I secretly wished that she would get lost on the way, but no – it was not to be. She found her way back to the house and on the evening I turned 40, I almost got sent to prison for murder.

Like the acronym in the title? It’s just way too much to type out, especially since this is becoming a novel. So without further ado….

I mentioned in an earlier post that my parents are devout M*ormons. This means there is not alcohol in the house. This also means that although there is an over-abundance of Pepsi there is also no coffee. When I am home, I make my daily trek to McDonald’s for my cup of Joe. It’s about a 1/2 mile walk & one that usually I enjoy. On this particular morning I walked with hot tears streaming down my cheeks. How dare my mother take my sister’s side. Feelings of betrayal and sadness surfaced. This was not the first time something like this had happened, but because I have a quicker wit and a sharper tongue I am perceived as the villain.

Ok – tangent, but one that I think will illustrate the nature of my relationship with my sister growing up. When I was 11 we moved to Scotland for a year. Why? Well my father wanted to find his “roots” and why not take us along for the ride. He got a job at the University of Edinburgh, we packed our things and headed for Great Britain. We left Hawaii on my 11th birthday, and arrived at our rental house in falling snow (which we had never seen). For the next year we traveled the country visiting relatives and learning about Scottish history. One of the excursions was a trip to the northernmost part of Scotland; The Isle of Skye. To get there we took a train for about 8 hours, then rented a car. Back when I was 11 there weren’t seat belt laws. The car would have comfortably sat 4 people with seat belts, but we put all 4 kids across the back seat. The drive wasn’t particularly interesting, with rolling hills and a LOT of sheep. My sister, in an effort to liven the mood punched me in the stomach and immediately screamed as if she was the one who had been hit. The General, without hesitation turned and smacked me. How she was always able to reach us regardless of where we were sitting will always be a mystery, but the woman could hone in and lay the smack down before you even had a chance to flinch. So there I sat, now having been hit twice and I had NO IDEA why. I said something to the General and then suddenly the Pansy reached behind his seat and cuffed me on the leg, chastising me because I had talked back to the General. Are you following? I was still in a daze. I turned to my sister who was brimming with pride and mouthed, “NOW YOU ARE REALLY GOING TO GET IT”, as I wound up and let my fist hit her in the gut so hard it knocked the wind out of her. The General ordered the car to the side of the road where I was told to get out and walk. I watched as they drove off over the rolling hills and for 2 hours I walked, wondering if they would ever return. Years later in therapy I recounted this story in front of the General. Her reply to the therapist, “She asked for it.” The therapists rebuttal? “That was child abuse.” Oh good times, but it made for a story – 11 years old and walking for 2 hours in a foreign country. Who else can say they have done that?

So you see how it would go down. The sister would antagonize in secret. I would retaliate in the open and then I would be punished. It’s been this way as long as I can remember and to this day my parents still fail to notice, or so I thought.

I called my gf  D on my walk to McDonald’s. I recounted the events to her through my tears and she did her best to comfort me from 3000 miles away. Talking to her helped to calm me and by the time I had my coffee in hand I felt ready to return to the house. No sooner had I walked in the door the General wanted me to sit down and talk about it. I tried to protest, but it was in vain. I said they wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say and that I was still too upset. Didn’t matter – the General wanted to talk so we were going to talk. I did my best to explain why I was so upset. My sister continued to attack and it started getting very ugly. There was a point in the argument when our faces were inches from each other. I seriously thought it was going to get physical. I don’t remember everything that was said but I do remember one particular exchange. Sister: “Are you saying I’m not a good mother?” Me: “There’s nothing to compare. A mother raises their children, all you did was give birth.” I didn’t hold back AT all. I know my words cut her to the core, but I didn’t care. She needed to hear it and I was sick of people pussy footing around the fact that she has abandoned 4 children for her drug addiction. This time it was my sister who stormed off.

A few hours later, I started to feel the need to be the peacemaker. I walked into the laundry room where my sister was rinsing clothes. I asked if we could have a truce. Without looking up she said, “Say what you need to say.” I said, “I just wanted to tell you I am sorry for yelling at you.” Then for good measure I added, “I’m not sorry for what I said, but I am sorry for yelling.” Nothing like the one-two punch. I was sincere though, and like I said earlier, she needed to hear it.

We decided to take the kids to a movie and play at the mall. We loaded up and left my nieces waiting for my sister to be ready. I feel for her girls. I don’t know what it would be like to have the person you call mom constantly under the influence of some mind or physically altering substance. It’s sad that they know the difference between high and sober. It’s disturbing that they even know how to deal with her when she is “out of it”. I have watched them grow and develop into beautiful people while my sister has chosen to constantly invalidate their worth through her choices. They are a big reason that I wanted to raise A too. I wanted her to know her amazing older sisters.

Each time we left to do something as a family the girls would stay behind and wait for my sister to get ready. On average they would arrive an hour later, with my sister in tow. Sometimes they would arrive and my sister would still be in the car “finishing her makeup”. It was annoying. I wanted to be with them and they were having to spend a significant amount of time “babysitting”. On this particular day, they arrived at the mall and my sister had already disappeared. The movie didn’t start for a few hours so we took the kids to play glow in the dark miniature golf. Talk about FUN! The entire room was lit with black lights, as well as each of the holes, the putters and even the balls. The kids had a great time. We finished and still could not locate my sister, so my niece took the kids to this giant room full of bounce houses (all of this was in the mall by the way), and wore them out while the General and I went to Borders to browse books. My poor dad finally found my sister who claimed she had run into some drug dealers “old friends”. We gathered the crew and since we had now missed the movie, we headed to one of our family’s favorite restaurants for dinner.

The restaurant was five minutes from the mall, and yet my nieces walked in without my sister. She was sitting in the car doing who knows what – and it lasted 30 minutes. We had ordered food and it had already arrived when she sauntered in acting like she was late because her phone kept ringing. I noticed that anywhere we went my sister would talk as if she was so important. She would constantly run into people she knew or become occupied on her phone because she HAD to take the phone call. I also noticed the stress it placed on the girls to have to constantly keep track of her. They would banter back and forth, “You get her”, “No, you get her”, “I got her last time”. SAD. During the meal my sister was openly rude to the General, who let it slide for the sake of having a nice meal together. I secretly wished that we would lose her on the way home.

There were bright moments that day. In addition to glow in the dark mini golf and bounce houses, I absolutely loved watching my children interact with my parents. I didn’t grow up in the most attentive or loving environment, but my children are. My parents LOVE them, and the kids know it. They have them wrapped around their fingers. Watching my mother beam with pride because my children love to eat Chinese food made me smile big. She actually had to order more food that evening and I thought she was going to burst at the seams. I think that’s a Hawaiian thing – food = love and my kids sure were putting away the love that night. We enjoyed all of our traditional favorites; pork hash with salted duck egg, gau gee, choy sum with oyster sauce. I’m salivating just remembering it.

Day 2 came to an end much calmer than it had started. I had hope for Day 3. After all, it was going to be December 28th and my birthday – the day I would turn 40.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’
in the comments for all to find and see.

Each time I visit my parents I assume the same role as the time before. To the General I become her house cleaner of all things the cleaning lady doesn’t do, her organizer, her fixer of things she hasn’t ever gotten to, her school classroom cleaner, and her assistant grader (she teaches High School English and Debate). To the Pansy I become his personal IT consultant (he has a home office and works out of it). I used to resent it, but with age and wisdom came understanding and now I look forward to being able to help where I can.

On this particular morning, I ventured downstairs with my children to make breakfast. I figured my sister had been out late (3-4 am) the night before so she would sleep until at least noon. This would give me time to further strategize (as if a strategy was even effective in this situation). I saw her on the living room couch and asked the Pansy if he could have her move upstairs or to a bedroom so we could function on the main floor. He agreed but wanted me to come and look at his computer first (now you know why I wrote the first paragraph). System failure? Blue screen of death? In need of a defrag or a hard restore? NO. “Ky, see this right here (pointing to the screen of his ultra souped up MAC desktop that I drool over every time)? “I need to attach it to an email to my publisher.” OMG. Dude is writing a book with a colleague of his about this über scientific process for Executive Business Success. They even have created a new unique scientific formula and it’s not something simple either. His publisher had sent the final draft for edits which he had made and needed to return, attached. I don’t even use a MAC and had it attached, even typed the response he dictated and sent it off within about 10 minutes. It would have taken 1 minute but the other 9 minutes were spent in a tutorial that I knew wouldn’t matter later because I might as well have been speaking Greek to him – hell, he probably would have understood Greek better. In the end I was again the super smart daughter who is the end all know all about his computer issues. Feels good to be a hero sometimes.

From the kitchen I heard my sister’s voice. There was that pit in my stomach again and the heart palpitations. She had woken up and was already engaged in conversation with both of my children. THAT was not part of my strategy. See, I was going to be there when she saw A. I was going to be the buffer, the MOTHER, the protector of my emotionally fragile daughter. MY daughter. I already felt 5 steps behind and it had only been 5 minutes. I walked into the kitchen where I encountered A in my sister’s arms. She was carrying her around. Now A knows that my sister carried her. We even refer to her as “Mommy Liza” (a mistake I made in starting and something that has since ceased since this trip and after reading all of the parts you will understand why). She knows she came out of her belly, just like J knows he came out of mine. Other than that, she doesn’t have any kind of tie to her. They don’t talk on the phone, my sister doesn’t write, and like I said in Part I, the last time my sister saw A, she was 2 and it was at her rehab facility for 20 minutes.

I started having conversations with myself (in my head). This was part of my strategy. “This is normal”. “You’d want to pick up your child too”. “Cut her some slack.” BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. Five minutes later, which felt like an eternity I made up something for A to do. “A, can you go and get Ema’s newspaper from the driveway for her?” “Sure!”, she says and jumps down onto the ground to head for the door. My sister says, “Baby, do you need me to go with you?” “Yes.”, A replies, to which my self-talk started to coincide with eye rolling and the physical biting of my lip. My annoyance meter was rising and rising fast. So off they went, hand in hand to the driveway to fetch the paper. I stayed quiet. I forced my controlling self to let it happen. When they returned the physical interaction didn’t change. My sister kept a hand, or both hands, or sometimes what appeared to be her entire body on A. On a scale of 1-10 my anxiety was at about an 11, but I still kept it inside.

My parents are devout Morm*ons. They read from their scriptures daily. When you visit my parents you read daily with them too. PERIOD. I don’t fight it. That morning at the usual time we all assembled in the living room to read. I purposely placed A to the left of me and J to the right, knowing that I was going to have to parent them to some degree. My children and I don’t affiliate to any organized religion and I’m sure there were going to be questions, and restless moments (like the one earlier when the General said the word blessings and J responded, “Blessings? what are Blessings?” and the look from the General to me could have turned me into a pile of ashes).

My sister who was not even an arm’s length away says, “Can I sit here next to A?” “Sure, I said, as long as you aren’t distracting.” She gives me a look like I’m the one on drugs and sits down. Not even 3 minutes into the study, which I need to note was done almost exclusively on I-Phon*es (both parents, both nieces AND MY SISTER – although I think she was online or talking to her supplier). I had the only actual book, which felt very foreign in my hands. I digress.  Okay, so not even 3 minutes into the study my sister begins to play with A’s hair, stroke her arms and fingers and then starts to whisper into her ear. Anxiety meter…11,12,13,14,15…I made sure I heard EVERYTHING. “Oh, is that a boo boo on your finger?” “Mommy will fix that for you after.” “Mommy will get you a band-aid.” “Did you know Mommy is going to school to be a nurse.” Followed by audible choking from me. Out of respect for my parents I stayed silent. Anxiety meter…16,17,18,19…as soon as we ended I turned to her and said, “I realize that this is a big deal to you. I get that and I understand, but unless you learn some boundaries you are hurting A more than you are helping her.” Again, the look like I was on drugs. I explained that I was not comfortable with her touching A constantly, and that most of all, she IS NOT A’s MOTHER. Well, I might as well have slapped the bitch in the face because her reaction was to come out verbally swinging and we began to argue, mind you with my parents, both children, and both nieces sitting there. The General says to me, “You need to calm down”. Instant tears filled my eyes. Tears so hot and stinging I could have sworn they were 200 degrees farenheit. I was not going to lose it in front of everyone. Anxiety meter…20, 21, 22, 23…OVERLOAD. I stood up and walked right out the front door, but only after I turned and said to the General and my sister, “F*UCK yourselves”, and slammed the door so hard I think it registered on the Richter scale.

I needed a new strategy.