My sister hides when she is most needed
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.