Gomer Pyle Said, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise"

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I thought the biggest surprise about my mom's passing last month was that she seemed to pass from this life with so little fanfare; so little recognition for a life well-lived; so little notice for the empty space she created.

Now I realize the bigger surprise, and right now the bigger loss, is the relationship with my sister. I only have one sister. Through the entire caregiving process (2 1/2 years) I told myself she and I had a great relationship, she supported me, we were a four-legged stool to under-gird the care and feeding of my mother with dementia. I said it here in print. I repeated it again in the Table Talk Podcast with Denise.

Somewhere that went haywire. Maybe it was never true? But it certainly has not been true this year, this summer, and now as we are "supposed" to be approaching the dismembering of Mom's estate as equals. It's not just the normal expected sibling stuff where we jockey to get more goodies than each other. I don't think that is barely in question, or matters. Neither one of us expected to be getting anything right now, least of all half an estate. I was anticipating a lengthy common Alzheimer's decline, and had no idea I would be in this position so soon.

I have been back in Mom's house for one month, getting up at 2 or 3 a.m. to write thank yous, clean bathtubs, purge closets, balance accounts, file papers, kill ants, return the Life Alert system, cancel credit cards, and the list goes on and on and on. My day is full. My month has been full and I am satisfied with what I've accomplished. Then my sister blows in from the south like an awning dislodged by Hurricane Erika, and imparts her four-hour wisdom on what I've done for a month.

Whatever intimacy we had is gone; we are two strangers pawing through piles of table linens with nothing to say. It is not just the death of my mom I'm experiencing, but also the death of my relationship with my sister. She wasn't AWOL all along as some siblings are. The four-legged stool had it's legs sawed off at some point. Is there something wrong with her that I'm missing? Did the roulette wheel of early-onset Alzheimer's stop at her door and we don't know it yet? I don't get it.

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