Saturday, May 21, 2011

Big Sisters

it is 9:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. tonight is lag b'omer. hundreds of thousands of people make their pilgrimage to meron to visit the gravesight of rabbi shimon bar yochai. it is normally, a 15 minute bus ride from zefat. not so tonight. it usually takes about an hour or more, because of the unusual amount of traffic.

i am not planning on going tonight. i don't have the stamina. it is also, about an hour's walk from the bus stop to the gravesight. i do not do well at night anymore and i must avoid being out in the wind, at any cost. i just might try going tomorrow evening. it probably will still be very crowded.

i took a long nap today because gal's sisters came over to get sahar. i think it was the first time in over a year that i slept on a saturday afternoon. i made shabbat meals for the kids and gal's sister and husband. it was their first shabbat in the neighborhood since they had their baby. they all seemed to be very happy together. i was very worn out. i still am.

i am ashamed to admit that i had a huge blow out with my younger sister on tuesday night, the night of my father's yirtseit. it has been a long time coming, unfortunately. i became the sole inheritor of my parent's house in zefat about two years ago. i know that it never seemed fair to me that i would get everything when i had another sibling in zefat. i tend to suffer from low self esteem. i am by no means, what one might call, a greedy person. i have always shared the 'wealth' with everyone.

my friends here and my siblings abroad all share the common belief that the house was coming to me for all the years that i spent caring for my elderly parents. i have finally come around to also believe that i deserve to remain in the house that my parents bought for me over 11 years ago. i say that, but i am still plagued with guilt.

i am the big sister here. in truth, my little sister has been bossing me around for many years. in fact, everyone here thought that i was the younger one. i have been the big sister who always babysat and adored the nieces and nephews. i always made the bithday cakes. i bought the appropriate gifts. i went to all of the school plays. i did the dishes. i made kugels or cakes for various simchas. i bought purim costumes. in short, i was always available. and i was always being asked to do favors.

about 11 years ago, my parents came to live in zefat. my mom had wanted me to return to new york. i had actually agreed to it but i couldn't face leaving israel. it was hard for my mom to leave her life in the usa. i wanted her to be surrounded by the majority of her grandkids, here in zefat. she got to go to their school recitals, graduations, attend 2 bar mitzvahs, and 2 weddings. she was very close to her grandchildren. they loved her very much, too.

dad also adored the kids. even in his dementia, he enjoyed being around his grandkids. he loved partying and lots of company. i was always entertaining and having friends come over. dad loved the action. we were always celebrating something here. i was the caterer. i made the parties. i cooked the dinners. i made the chanukah latke nights. i was the hostest with the mostest. so i thought, until tuesday night.

it wasn't always so ideal. mom resented me for the loss of her independence. she resented me for taking over her kitchen. she resented me for her not being able to do household chores. dad was demented and sometimes could be aggressive. he was a handful and then another half. my son was a dificult teenager. he had dropped out of yeshiva at 15/16 and was doing drugs. i was beginning menopause. what fun! 3 generations living together.

dad died 6 years ago. the loss was very hard for me. i didn't go out for about 2 years. it was also very hard to deal with mom. she suffered a lot being alone. my son joined the army right after my father died. mom and i enjoyed a certain quiet together. we got along much better without my son. she thankfully, lived to see her grandson turn around and become a mentch. she lived to attend his chuppah and died 3 weeks after the wedding.

my mom has been gone for over 2 1/2 years. the will has been probated. i'm still living in our house. my son, daughter-in-law and grandson are living downstairs. the only difference is that my baby sister announced to me one night, about half a year ago, that she would no longer enter this house because of the unfairness of the will.

it all started with a discussion of my ridding the house of clutter and chotchkas. i offered my sister to come over and take whatever chatchkas she wanted. she wanted me to pack up all the things that i didn't want and bring them to her house.

as the big sister, i got very hurt and depressed. i punished myself by binging and gaining a ton of weight. i stopped going out. i went into shiva mode. then i regrouped. as the big sister, i started taking my baby grandson over to visit my baby sister. i never spoke of how i felt. i tried to keep things 'pareve'. i kept the visits short.

once again, i offered my baby sister to come over and take whatever chatchkas she wanted. she asked me for the antique dressers that were in the master bedroom. quite frankly, i wasn't about to part with them. they are the only things in the house that i do treasure and still use. i wasn't about to take out all of my clothing and personal things to accomodate her. call me selfish! end of discussion.

so about 6 months later, on the night of my father's 6th yirtseit, we had a knock down, drag out fight. it started after i mentioned deleting emails from my mother's yahoo account, which i shared with her for years. from about 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. we went at each other until we were both sick. my niece actually, came into the room at one point, to tell us to both stop screaming.

the next day, the big sister and the baby sister went down to the cemetary together to pay homage to their father. i haven't spoken to my baby sister since. i did email her that our relationship was too toxic for me and that i needed a break. we both tried to get our older sister to take our sides. she finally told us both to deal with it on our own. what a luxury to live in another country!

anyway, this big sister is now trying to enjoy her space. she is sticking to her diet and not punishing herself anymore. she is not feeling as guilty. she is actually enjoying seeing the baby sister squirm a little. don't get me wrong, i'm exhausted. to be continued.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! Stop letting her and others walk all over you! YOU are a deserving person, woman,sister,mom and grandmother!