The flip side of not knowing how someone else sees you

My stepfather, Ralph, asked to see my sister Cathi — and just Cathi — to finally straighten out this mess.  She and I talked about what he could mean by that; it certainly doesn’t sound good, but in all the scenarios she and thought of, I never thought of the truth.

To boil it down, it started with a misunderstanding at the funeral and cemetery.  We asked the funeral director how we could pick up the things that we had brought like pictures of my mom.  He suggested that since we were passing by the funeral home on the way to the luncheon — after the cemetery, we could just stop and pick them up.  I volunteered to do it, so Cathi and Gerry, who were the only other ones who organized the lunch, could get there and talk to the catering people and greet people.  But my nephew Rob followed my car, so he stopped too at the funeral home along with Gerry.  What I didn’t know was, Ralph had asked his daughter, Debbie, to go pick up Mom’s things from the funeral home.  She got there as we pulled away, and I never saw her.  Gerry saw her, but said nothing because she thought Debbie was there for some other reason.

So Debbie came to the luncheon — with the funeral director, poor guy — to get Mom’s things that came from the house.  I apologized for the mixup and everything seemed okay.

But here, all this time, it wasn’t okay.  Debbie remembers talking to Kathleen, her sister, in front of Gerry about how they were going to the funeral home to get the photos and things.  So they don’t understand why we went when Gerry knew they were coming.  Truth is, my sister Gerry was so manic that day, nothing filtered in except her own stream of consciousness.  But the real trouble doesn’t stop there.

Debbie turned it into that I — me — ignored Ralph’s wishes to snatch Mom’s things myself.  That supposedly the funeral director even commented on how we pushed our way in to grab everything, ignoring him when he mentioned Ralph and his kids would want their own things back.  And that we saw her pull up and laughed in her face, because we had taken everything.

Obviously, the funeral director didn’t say any of that, because he was the one who asked if we wanted to come after the cemetery.  This isn’t the first time Debbie made up lies about me and my family, and she used to torture my mom in the past few years with saying we stole collectible, expensive items until my mom would burst into tears.

It makes me upset and furious that she did this, but the real pain is the fact that Ralph started to believe it.  And that made him start seeing other things in a negative way.

Instead of remembering that the nurse handed me a bag containing my mom’s jewelry at the hospital, he now remembers it as the nurse holding it out for him, and I snatched it, trying to keep it for myself.  That I wasn’t any help at the funeral home instead of giving suggestions such as Cathi remembering Mom didn’t want an open casket.  That I — well, did a lot of bad things.

It hurts so much.  I’m trying to remember he’s elderly, grieving terribly, and sick with pneumonia.  And hearing venom from an evil person who’s coloring his view.  I promised my mom that I’d be a better person…

But he’s known me for twenty-five years.  How can he think I’d do anything like that?  Steal my mom’s jewelry?  Force my way into a funeral home to take her things?

How did everything I did and tried to do to be of help suddenly become me being so hateful as that?  And how can he think I would ever do it?

Cathi said he calmed down and realized he’s wrong.   He even handed her my dad’s Army  hat and said I should get it, because I’m the only one in the family who has ever researched and done anything about his service years.  Even listing him at the WWII memorial database.

But that doesn’t change that he thought I was capable of such cruelty.  Apparently, not where my dad is concerned, but my Mom….

I am trying to let it go.  I am trying to remember it’s a bad time and makes people think and feel crazy things.  But it really hurts.

And where Debbie is concerned…. I don’t care what promises I made.  I have had it with her.  She’s made up lies about me one too many times.  I kept the peace when Mom was around because that’s what she wanted, even though Debbie hurt her terribly.  But Mom’s not here now and Debbie’s venom has to have repercussions.  Otherwise, I’m not a better person, I’m a doormat.

Almost forgot: they’re saying I took the cards from the funeral home and still have them.  Why the hell would I do that?


2 responses to “The flip side of not knowing how someone else sees you

  1. Say adios to Debbie. You’re fulfilled your obligation to your Mom by being nice to her…you don’t need that angst right now. I’d gather that Ralph is just hurting and vulnerable and wasn’t really processing what people (Debbie) are telling him. He knows you better. I’m glad you had Cathi to help smooth things out.

    (I have to admit, the thought of you kicking down a funeral home door to loot stuff is funny.)

  2. >(I have to admit, the thought of you kicking down a funeral >home door to loot stuff is funny.)

    Like Kuzco in Emperor’s new groove: BAM! Only I’m in a black skirt. 😉

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