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Both of my parents died within the last few years, and it has been a challenge that has created a rift between me and my siblings.
Growing up, I was always touted as being my mother and father’s favorite child of the four children they have. At times, jealousy and resentment were projected onto me by my three sisters and, as a result, this made for a harrowing experience in my early years.
My father was a family physician, and my mother was a retired kindergarten teacher. Based on stories I’ve heard from my sisters, our dad wasn’t around much back then before I was born, but by the time I came along he had significantly reduced his working hours and time to actually spend rearing me along with my mother’s influence.
In a turn of unfortunate events, my mother took ill with early-onset dementia and my father was only working two days a week in his practice so he could be home with her. Two of my siblings, the middle ones, live out of the country but my oldest sister and I live just a short drive away from our parents’ home.
My father had asked my oldest sister to come around to help cook meals, clean the house, and spend quality time with our mom, but she always had an excuse. The duty of taking care of our mom ended up being left solely up to me. My other two siblings simply sent money in lieu of their actual physical presence. They live in the U.K. with our extended family.
My eldest sister who lives here is married with 10- and 12-year-old daughters and would feign severe exhaustion whenever our dad came up with something he needed her to do. Her argument was that I’m single without children and was able to devote myself 100 percent to Mom and Dad in their time of need. I didn’t mind being there for my parents to assist, but I feel it should’ve been a joint effort shared with my older sister.
I was there every Sunday cooking dinner for my folks, popping up in the evening to check in, and taking time off work to transport Mom to her appointments. Dad and I had truly had time to bond then, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to step up and help. Unfortunately, I inadvertently neglected my own health and well-being. I wasn’t eating right or working out, and my mental health declined. I kept bracing for the worst, and the worst inevitably came when my mother passed away.
When she passed, you would have thought her funeral was some sort of runway fashion show. My sisters from out of the country and my oldest and her children were dressed to the nines. All looked like something out of Vogue while I looked ragged and run down. That set me off. The evening after the funeral, I had it out with my sister. She assured me that with only one parent living, she was going to do better and show up with her girls to help out with Dad.
We were all devastated by the loss, but our father had lost his best friend. My parents had been married for 42 years, and they were everything to each other. It didn’t take long before he started slipping into a bad state of health and mental wellness. However, my oldest sister did not keep her promise. I was still the one dedicating most of my waking hours to our last parent.
Dealing with our dad was extremely difficult. I had to move into our parents’ home, so I could be closer to him. I had no time for myself or my own needs. I cut my hours at work to part-time so I could be around to care for him, and my love life was nonexistent. Plus with COVID-19 I had to be extra careful, and I could not socialize. My sister, on the other hand, wouldn’t even stay with my father if I was at work, and not even if I just needed to step away to do something for myself for an hour. I had to hire a home health aide to assist him.
My sister actually had the nerve to drop off her girls for a three-day weekend during all of this so that she and her husband could have a couple’s getaway. I was furious, and she didn’t understand why. It blows my mind how selfish and inconsiderate she could be.
Our dad died a year and a half after our mom, and that’s when things got ugly. We received individual cash inheritances, but additionally, I was gifted the family home and two cars. My sisters are livid, especially my oldest sister. She has been harassing me nonstop to sign the house over to her because she believes that I don’t need it as a single woman and that she, her two kids, and her husband could use it more.
When I think back, I can remember good times with my oldest sister. She would braid my hair, take me to school, stave off bullies, and just take care of me in general. However, the last four years have been daunting and difficult, and I’m still processing the loss of both parents which is challenging.
What should I do – should I stand my ground or sign the home over to my sister or lose yet another family member?
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