Money Changes Everything – Cyndi Lauper

It’s nineteen ninety-something and my half-sister is in town making her once every two-year visit.  I knew something was up when she suggested: “Rex, let’s you and I have lunch together.”

I use to joke that my Mom had two only children.  My half-sister not only has a different father but she is twenty-one years older than me.  Georgie had eloped in June of 1961 and this little bundle of joy arrived in August of the same year.

We never lived in the same house together and I looked at her most of my life as more of an aunt than a sister.

Georgie and her husband Bobbie are smart people.  Both worked as chemists for Proctor and Gamble.  They loved to hike and travel the country.  They retired when they were in their mid-forties with a great retirement package from the company and stock options. They never cared to have children opting for what Mom called the “gypsy” lifestyle.

Georgie and Bobbie ended up finding a place in Onyx, California.  To say it is the middle of nowhere gives

By the mid-nineties Mom, Dad and I had our family business repairing medical equipment.  All three of us and a few workers would start at 7 am.  The family would end the day around 6 pm.  Most of the time Dad would go over to Mama B’s and get subs and we would eat at our desks.  We had a business to run.

The exception to that rule was when Georgie would come to town.  Mom would not want to leave work so often Georgie would come into the office to be with Mom and do some light office work, putting names in the computer or cleaning out old files. 

This was Georgie’s vacation as far as she was concerned so Mom would leave the business to take her to lunch.  They would be gone for hours as Mom would take Georgie shopping. 

There were times Mom would take a week or two out and go to our beach condo with Georgie.  Not Mom’s favorite as she would call the office to check on me and Dad.  Georgie would go for two or three hour walks on the beach, leaving Mom in the condo by herself.

It was the fourth and final week of Georgie’s visit when she asked to have lunch with me alone.  Her favorite is Red Lobster and off we went.

As we waited to be seating, the hostess asked if we had anywhere we preferred to sit.  Georgie quickly spoke, “Somewhere where we can have a quiet conversation.”   My Spidey senses were alight by now.

Before the first basket of cheesy biscuits were served, I headed her off at the pass. “So what’s on your mind, Sis?” I inquired not really knowing what to expect.

She started slow and picked up pace like a locomotive getting a good head of steam. Somewhere near the end of her dissertation, the final point was made. “Bobbie is older than me (this I already knew) and when he passes away, I don’t have anyone to take care of me.  Will you take care of me after he is gone?  Maybe I can live at one of the duplexes Mom and Dad own and you can visit every day or so?”

I was dumbstruck.  Mom, Dad and I were busy building the business, I had two young children and my wife.  Taking care of my immediate family was a full plate.  I couldn’t comprehend a number of years down the road and adding my sister/aunt into the mix.

My answer what not what she expected.  “Georgie,” I said. “Right now I can’t answer that question.  I am sure at some point I’ll have to take care of Dad and Mom.  Chances are that by the time they pass away, I’ll be ready to retire.  If I’m taking care of you, when do I get time to enjoy my golden years?”

She broke down in tears and said little else during lunch.

Mom has since willed one of the duplexes to Georgie but since that visit, my relationship with Georgie has never been the same.

Mom has passed away and much like the passing of our Mother the relationship with my sister has become deadly silent.

Live, Love, Matter

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