Mom called me Thursday afternoon. Because it was the tenth anniversary of my marriage to my late husband, I thought for a brief second she may have remembered. But the phone call was about her. Another streak unbroken.
“DNOS sold your father’s car,” she informed me. “And I am pissed.”
The car, if you remember, was a huge bone of contention in the days following Dad’s death last October. My brother, CB, was desperate for Mom to sign it over to him because he didn’t have a reliable vehicle back in Nevada and the truth was that without dependable wheels, he was never going to find work. But DNOS would not hear of it. CB behaved poorly during Dad’s last days and even worse in the aftermath. They don’t get along anyway, but DNOS was Dad’s favorite. She was the one who shouldered the load during his illness. She thought that CB should have manned up and acted his age instead of mining his childhood grievances. He was miffed that no one would at least allow him the right to have issues with the way he was parented. They are both a little right and a little wrong.
In the end, I sided with DNOS. I am the swing vote. I swung incorrectly in this instance. DNOS sold the car in the spring – without a word to Mom – because she wanted the money to pay for repairs to her jeep. Mom had signed the title over to her but on the condition that the car would be available for Nephew1 when he turned sixteen next year. DNOS did not mention the sale of the car until Mom showed up at her house yesterday and asked where it was.
It isn’t a huge deal really. Nephew1 will undoubtedly nag Mom into buying him a beater anyway and my cousin’s husband runs an autobody shop where such vehicles show up regularly. The issue is the money. DNOS, apparently, helped herself to grocery gift cards that Mom had in the house while Mom was visiting us in July. About $400 dollars worth of script which DNOS claims was just $200 and that she “borrowed” to give to BabySis who was broke and begging while Mom was gone.
DNOS has repaid the $200 she claims she borrowed for BabySis, but the kicker is that BabySis had no idea what Mom was talking about when Mom brought it up to her over the past weekend. BabySis was begging again for cash to buy cigarrettes (how does one find the balls to ask for ciggie money from a woman whose husband died from lung cancer?) and Mom reminded her of the $200.
“DNOS never gave me any gift cards.”
Here’s the bottom line. DNOS was Dad’s favorite and she used him like a private credit union, borrowing and repaying in amounts and on terms that only the two of them knew. Dad is dead. DNOS’s spending habits live on.
Mom had a conversation with DNOS about everything. What did she say?
“Don’t tell Annie.”
As if. I am most likely to hear from our mother when things are awry.
I told her what I thought she should do. Whether she will do it or not is debatable. I didn’t even entertain the thought of calling my sister. I like my sister. I like her husband and her son. And I know, more than anyone I think, just how taxing the caregiving she did for Dad was and how much heavier the burden was because I upped and remarried and left the country. I don’t feel like causing a rift between us because Mom has been unclear about her new position on handouts to her children and grandchildren. I handed Mom my two cents, Canadian, and she will do what she will do. I did tell her this,
“I could go all drama about the unfairness where money has always been concerned in our family and remind you of the differing standards you and Dad had for each of us kids, and how DNOS, and me especially, where always left to fend for ourselves even in times of crisis, but I won’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what do you want to do with your money and what is your criteria for lending money and giving away possessions now.”