A Disney Thanksgiving

It can't get any worse, can it? Obviously, it can.

It can’t get any worse, can it? Obviously, it can.

As I was watching Tarzan with my mother in her hospital room on Thanksgiving, I was struck by this scene: Jane Porter, supporting herself between two branches, where she is stuck. “It can’t get any worse, can it?” she asks. As it begins to rain, she answers, “Obviously, it can.”

My mother was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday evening (her third hospitalization this year), after the assisted living staff found her on the floor. She has an infected sore on her bottom, which we learned on Friday is MRSA—Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—an  infection caused by a type of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat staph infections. I spent my Thanksgiving with my mother at the hospital, leaving long enough during the day to have dinner at my sister’s house, and once more later in the evening, for pie.

Mom has been on IV antibiotics since she was admitted five days ago. We have not yet been told how long she’ll need to be on the antibiotics, or how long she’ll be in the hospital. There’s been some discussion of moving her to a skilled nursing facility before she goes back to AL. Since mom always does better in the familiar surroundings of AL (and with her cat), I plan to advocate for moving her back to AL with home health monitoring the IV. AL knows of the infection, and says they can take her back if home health agrees it can monitor the IV. Mom is taking all this in stride. I don’t think she felt well enough to be bothered that she was missing Thanksgiving at my sister’s. We did bring her a plate, which mom said tasted the same as the hospital lunch I fed her earlier in the day. Mom pulls no punches.

After mom ate her dinner, we left her to rest and went back to the alternate universe of my sister’s house. This is the place where everyone pretends my brother-in-law did not molest their youngest daughter over several years, finally stopping when she turned fifteen (seventeen years ago) and told a school counselor. My sister stayed with her husband and told no one what he had done. I wouldn’t learn about it until many years later, when my niece was living with me and outed him. My sister and I didn’t talk for several years after that. Not until all the dying, and I was thrust into contact with her (and her husband) at three funerals and a wedding. (Yeah, it’s got screenplay written all over it.) Now, with my mother in poor health and only my sister and I left, I find myself in my sister’s alternate universe more often these days.

My sister, much like myself prior to January 3, 2015, likes her wine (among other things). Having given up booze, I find myself closely watching how much other people drink. Usually it’s out of curiosity, more than judgment. Or so I tell myself. Thursday night, I lost count how many times my sister went into the kitchen to fill her glass with red wine. And when I say fill, I mean at least ten ounces a pop. The more she drank, the meaner she got. Here’s a snippet of her talking about my ex-sister-in-laws and my two brothers, who died of alcohol-related diseases:

Brenda was a real bitch. She trapped Steve by getting pregnant. She just used him to get a green card. And she thought she was better than all of us, always looking down her nose at everyone. She was awful to Steve. Dora was a bitch for a while, too. But Steve and Mike were horrible people to be around. They were total alcoholics. If I was married to either of them, I probably would have been a bitch, too.

Yes, my drunk sister, who is (still) married to a pedophile who molested their daughter, does not understand the irony of drunkenly telling us that my dead alcoholic brothers were horrible people to be married to, and made their wives act like bitches.

As I sat there drinking my Topo Chico, listening to my sister’s rant, I thought surely I must have stepped through the wardrobe into some Narnia-esque other-world. And I felt a sense of urgency, a need to get out of her strange, confused world before it permanently warps my brain. The trouble is, no matter how hard I pull on the wardrobe door, it remains stuck. And while I’ll keep tugging, I don’t expect that to change; I don’t expect I’ll be able to free myself from this other world, as long as my mother is still living.



About Unconfirmed Bachelorette

Unconfirmed Bachelorette, a/k/a Ella, is a 50-something-year-old lawyer who wishes fervently she could retire from the practice of law and write full time. Never-married-childfree Ella resides in Austin, Texas with her three fluffy black rescue cats.
This entry was posted in Abusive Relationships, Alcoholism, Elderly Parents, Sexual Abuse, Sobriety and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to A Disney Thanksgiving

  1. It sounds as if your sister just described herself during her rant about her former sisters-in-law.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. ainsobriety says:

    One way people try to build the self up is to criticize everyone else.
    It keeps the finger pointed elsewhere.
    Hop your is ok. That’s scary.


  3. josie416 says:

    And I thought the tipsy woman at our dinner criticizing her social-phobic daughter in front of everybody was bad. Congratulations on coming up on a year. Your genetics are stacked against you, but you are forging ahead successfully. YAY YOU!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nothing like Thanksgiving to bring out the best in people. Perhaps that’s why stores are opening on Thanksgiving now – so people can escape dinner and have some place to go! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yikes. That is one Thanksgiving you will probably remember forever. …. Glad you were with your mother. Sorry your sister was not the epitome of gratefulness and thanks on that day in particular. Wishing you well, and a quick recovery for your mother. Stay strong. Stay vocal. You are one kick-ass woman, Ella.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cindy knoke says:

    Oh, you have my empathy and my attention. I don’t know, sometimes freeing oneself from toxic family members can be beneficial for our mental health. You can see why shrinks are busy and why I retired from the profession early. Socializing with the pedophile would be impossible for me. This is why so many people are driven to distraction and depression by the holidays, all the ugly family dynamics come up. I hope your mother is better and you have a more peaceful week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy, I escaped my family for twelve years, seeing them only at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sometimes not then. When my dad and brothers died in 2012-13, things changed and I began to spend more time with my mom, which meant making nice with my sister. I feel like I’m in limbo as long as my mom’s still with us. Yes, I can see why shrinks are busy, and why you now spend your time with nature. Thank you, Cindy.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Almost a year booze-free. Congrats to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your sister sounds like A-hole Numero Uno, sorry you have to spend time with her. Keep it tight! I hope your mom recovers quickly:)


  9. I spent yesterday with a hangover from too much wine on Saturday night. Ruined the day, basically, feeling sorry for myself and battling a headache (which I refuse to take pills for as I believe I should suffer!) I doubt I’d ever go booze free, but days like yesterday make me think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Robert Crisp says:

    Dear lord, that was horrifying to read, but I’m glad you shared it…and even more glad that you managed through it with grace have the objectively to write (and write well) about it.


  11. The Pootle list says:

    What a set of trying circumstances! Am full of admiration at your restraint. I would have socked the sister (very hard), drunk ALL the wine, then sat on the bedroom floor and cried my heart out. Sending some happy sunshine to you and wishes of good health for your mom. A big hug.


  12. Keep being strong; I’m in awe that you can even do this.


  13. weenie says:

    When people are unhappy and drink, then their real (and dark, unpleasant) side often comes out.

    Well done to you for being booze-free for so long. I don’t think I could give up alcohol entirely – I don’t drink at all during the week, just save myself for certain weekend binges!

    Hope all goes well for your mother.


    • To my sister’s credit, she’s unpleasant when she’s sober. Although drinking does bring out a higher level of nastiness.

      I didn’t think I be up for giving it up entirely, either. But I feel better without it. Thank you, Weenie.


  14. CurvyLou says:

    I read that and said, “Oh, sh*t,” right out loud. Quite a scene to witness, sober and aware. Alcoholics are good at hiding behind anger, judgement, and a sense of superiority.
    Her father once said to my dearly beloved niece, about me, “Why are you hanging out with that bitch? She’s an alcoholic! She’s a bad influence on you!” I was 14 years sober at the time, and he hadn’t been sober more than twenty minutes in a row for fifteen years. What amazed me about it most was the obvious-to-anybody-but-him inversion of truth. Swap himself for me in that sentence, and he’d have stated his biggest fear. It’s a bit mind-boggling to witness such emphatic denial, so expertly applied.
    I hope your mom continues to improve, and you, too, and it’s good to hear from you again, so soon after your last post.


    • Yes, the inversion was astonishing. As was her inability to see it. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, given she has spent the last seventeen years in deep denial. I really need to get away from her and her husband. But at present, I’m a bit stuck. It’s good to hear from you, Lou. Even if you are a bad influence. 😉


  15. Kim G says:

    Hola Ella!

    The triumph in this story is that you remained alcohol-free in a situation that probably called for a lot of it. And for that, I give you kudos.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we spent Thanksgiving with sane friends.


  16. David says:

    I hope the IV antibiotics works on your mother’s MRSA. Very nasty bug to say the least. Frankly, I don’t know how you do it with your family, Ella. You’re probably much, much stronger than you think you are. Just live for your kitties and wear your accountant, green-billed visor marking down your countdown calendar to retirement. 🙂

    BTW, I like the black, stormy sky photo on your previous post. You’re getting good at this photography thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My mother seems to be doing better, David. You know, I don’t know how I do it, either. Maybe I should give myself a little more credit. You’re right, the kitties make it better. Little Sophie-the-former-stray came prowling around three years ago this month. She’s come a long way. Three years can make a big difference. I wonder where I’ll be three years from now.

      Thanks on the photograph! I know one thing I’ll be doing more of when I’m no longer working.


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