My sis­ter hides when she is most needed

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - JANET EL­LIS

THE PAT­TERNS of fam­ily be­hav­iour are es­tab­lished early. Even if we don’t stick la­bels on one an­other, we know what to expect from the funny one, the cre­ative one or the one who’s always su­per-or­gan­ised.

You may not be the old­est – you don’t say in your let­ter – but you def­i­nitely re­gard your youngest sis­ter as the baby and the one who ought to do as she’s told.

I suspect it doesn’t take much for her to wind you up ei­ther – whether it’s about some­thing triv­ial or the ma­jor events hap­pen­ing now.

You prob­a­bly even take some com­fort from her re­li­able lack of re­li­a­bil­ity, when so much is un­pre­dictable with your par­ents’ health and prospects. Luck­ily you’re close, so you ob­vi­ously get over th­ese episodes and keep in touch.

Does she demon­strate this lack of re­spon­si­bil­ity all the time? You say she dis­ap­pears when the go­ing gets tough, but that im­plies she’s around when it comes to deal­ing with day-to-day things.

It might be she feels a spare part at times of cri­sis. You may switch into ca­pa­ble mode with such speed that it leaves her with no role. What do you want from her? You deal ad­mirably well with the stress of hav­ing elderly par­ents and a de­mand­ing son, but it sounds as if what you’d like is the lov­ing sup­port only a sis­ter can give. That’s not some­thing you can force, but you can en­cour­age it.

And you have to ad­mit you need her, too, and aren’t just ir­ri­tated by what you see as her fail­ings. Noth­ing will halt your fa­ther’s de­cline or rad­i­cally im­prove your mother’s prog­no­sis. But what can hap­pen next is their chil­dren face those facts to­gether and be­gin to make plans.

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