Years later, sister is still upset
Several years ago, my sister’s husband passed away. She was married for over 60 years. They had three children. She made plans to have a memorial service on the weekend. He was to be cremated. My family and I made plans to attend. She lives in another city.
She then changed the date of service, to a town an hour from her home. The service was to be held at night.
Due to her change to the service and the service being held at night, my family could not attend. I made the decision not to attend because I would be traveling back home alone at a very late time of night.
I noticed a change in her behavior and felt it was because I did not attend. She knew the reason I was not going to be there. After the funeral, I would call and check on her at least once a week. Often, she would tell me she could not talk.
Shortly before Christmas, we talked, and for some reason, she mentioned that none of her family was present for the service. Our other sister lived too far away to make the trip. I told her that after she changed the arrangements for his service, I didn’t think it was wise for me to travel alone and I didn’t feel comfortable staying in a hotel in a town I was not familiar with. She said I could have stayed with her, and I replied she did not invite me. She became flustered and said we should agree to disagree.
I have not heard from her since that time. I called a week ago, and her son answered the phone. She could not come to the phone. I left a message, and she has not returned my call.
She is 90 years old, a good bit older than our younger sister and me. The two of them are not close at all. They do not talk or correspond with each other. I have kept in touch with both of them throughout the years. My older sister has always had problems with being envious and jealous.
I feel badly because of our not being in touch. I am a widow, and I live alone. I have children. I was quite surprised to know that for these last years she was angry at me because of my not being able to attend. I should have realized she was angry.
I wish she would have shared with me how she felt sooner rather than avoiding me and not keeping in touch.
I had major surgery last year. She made it very plain she would not be coming to see me or stay with me. I told her I would not expect her to do so. And I didn’t.
What should I do to salvage our relationship? — Peacemaker Sister
Dear Peacemaker Sister: The fact that you did not attend your brother-inlaw’s funeral is not worth obsessing over now. What’s done is done; the past is in the past.
As for your sister, is it unfair for her to expect you to be a mindreader? If she is truly torn up about your absence, she should have communicated that to you rather than dodging your calls.
My guess is that she is still feeling very hurt and unsupported by her family when she was in her time of need. She is also a widow now, and likely lonely. I would give her a call and share with her everything that you have shared here with me, and tell her you love her and miss her.