One of my brothers lives with my father. He has always lived with my parents, though I have no idea why he decided to do so. He’s fifty-three and was born profoundly deaf due to my mother getting German Measles when she was pregnant with him. He’s been wearing hearing aides since he was a baby, and my parents made sure he went to a regular public school so he could learn to live with hearing people. The school system he was enrolled in offered individual assistance for him so he didn’t fall behind in his classes. He’s lived a pretty normal life, went to college, worked retail jobs, got his degree, and has been working in the government for many many years. He maintains relationships with lots of friends–hearing and deaf–and participates in all kinds of activities. He helps arrange and run racquetball tournaments for both deaf leagues and hearing leagues. He travels, stays in hotels alone, drives daily to work, works among his colleagues, goes to a gym, sees his doctors…etc etc. He’s a pretty smart person, though sometimes his communication skills lag a bit. Most people deal with it pretty well, and so does he.
But he’s never had a romantic relationship that we’re aware of, though he has tons of friends. He’s never wanted to go away for any long period of time, never wanted to move out, and often relied on my mother to do things for him. Things he could do–though they might take some extra effort from him–but for whatever reason he chose not to do them. My mother did the things for him out of love, I’m sure. My brother helped (and still helps) take care of their current house and the property it sits on. He would cook occasionally and would stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things when my mother asked. He’s terrible at cleaning, but he takes good care of their dog. Now that Mom is gone, he handles the majority of the bills at the house, does all the taxes for him and my father, and he helps my father with most of the technology in the house.
There are times that he lets things slide that normally my mother would have handled. He and my father, living together like bachelors in their house now, often overlook things because they don’t want to deal with them. I have tried very hard to stay out of my mother’s role, because I do not want to be her. I don’t want to follow them around and make sure things get done, or be called upon when they don’t want to handle things. When things fall by the wayside, they scramble to handle them but it seems to be okay the majority of the time. One of the last issues I have struggled to step out of is their dog. I hate to see their dog suffer because they aren’t staying on top of things, or because they aren’t paying her enough attention. She was really my mother’s dog, her companion and her shadow, especially during Mom’s cancer. My father doesn’t pay the dog too much mind, and his memory is pretty shitty. I often worry that he lets her out into the yard and then forgets about her. It has only happened once or twice since my mother’s death, and neither time did she suffer too much discomfort before I discovered the lapse. Fortunately, their dog barks hysterically if she wants to get back in the house, so there have been times when I hear her barking and I call my dad to remind him she’s outside.
We are all heading to the wedding next weekend. It’s being held less than 30 minutes from our home(s), but it’s an evening wedding. It starts right before dinnertime and we need to be there early enough to get parking and walk to the venue. That means our dogs will all need to have someone come in to feed them and let them out after dinner. Hub and I have been talking about this for weeks, and we finally interviewed a couple of dog-sitters from Rover.com. We’ve used dog-sitters before, but we didn’t really like their service as they were ONLY drop-in and they would only promise to stop in on the dogs in a two hour window. So we interviewed a couple of people and found someone who will come in and stay with our dogs for the whole evening. They have a pretty active evening routine (including dinner), so we figured we’d pay the person to stay the whole evening. It’s not terribly expensive and we’re over-protective owners, so we went ahead and hired someone.
I said nothing to my brother or my father about their dog. They’re grown men, they take care of their dog, they knew the wedding was coming up for six months. If they were concerned about their dog, they should have done something. And I didn’t want to put my nose into their life and ask or suggest they make arrangements. It sounds petty, but I don’t want to be their mother or their wife. GROWN ADULTS.
Hub and I decided to have the dog-sitter come in once before the wedding so the dogs would have a chance to get to know the sitter. We hired her for a drop-in visit (30 minutes) to let the dogs out and play with them while we were out for a longer-than-normal dinner with my family. We all drove together to the restaurant, so when we got home, the sitter was still at our house (dinner didn’t take as long as we expected). Immediately my brother wanted to know who was at our house when he saw the car parked in front of our garage. So I told him we were trying out a dog-sitter in advance of the wedding. He sort of frowned and started to ask me questions, but I only said we’d met her a few weeks prior and then we went home.
Two days later–this is now ten days before the wedding–my brother sends me a message via googletalk to ask me how the dog-sitter had worked out. I said she was good, the dogs seemed to like her (but they like everyone!), so we were set for the wedding. His next question was, “Can she handle three dogs?” Because he hadn’t made any arrangements and he figured he would just leave his dog at my house and so he’d be all set without having to do anything! Again, I felt petty, but I don’t want him thinking that he’ll just let us always handle things and he’ll tag on. I told him that it wasn’t appropriate for our sitter to take care of his dog when she hadn’t met the dog. This was exactly why we had interviewed people in our house to see them with our dogs, and then did a trial-run before the wedding. Also, his dog is not the easiest to handle, especially when she’s in OUR house versus their house. And I told him all of that. I said he needed to find his own sitter, who would come to his house and take care of his dog. So he said there was no time left (TEN DAYS), and so he’d just have to come home early from the wedding to take care of his dog. Guilt and manipulation…because he hadn’t bothered to do the responsible thing for his dog and his plans. Six months they’ve known about the exact time and date for the wedding.
I felt badly. I had guilt so built up that I didn’t sleep that night thinking about it. I knew he was mad at me, but I didn’t want to teach him that if he didn’t do what he was supposed to, I would clean up after him. I didn’t want him to think that he could let things slide because he figured I would step in. Teaching people how to treat you is important, and I was teaching him to treat me like his sister, not his mother.
TWO DAYS LATER he asked me to help him get a dog-sitter. I had already given him the Rover.com website, so I didn’t understand why he needed my help. He opened the app on his iPad and through every step he asked for my input. HE’S A COMPUTER PERSON. He’s been in IT in the government for probably 25 years…why the hell did he need me to stand over him to help him with an app that I’ve NEVER EVEN USED. Hub and I were using the Rover.com website, not the app, so I’d never seen the app before. *sigh* We contacted several people, set up two for interviews, then he wanted me to be there at the interviews. As it turns out, the first person who came the very next night was the person he hired because the second person flaked out on us.
So he’s got his dog-sitter. We’ve got our dog-sitter. I persist in teaching him and my father that I am not their mother or wife, and that I am not going to step in and take care of things for them. I persist in reminding myself that I am teaching them to be independent human beings, capable of handling their lives. Obviously, if they seriously need me, I am there for them. But these simple, every-day things? They need to learn to handle their business like adults. And if they don’t handle their business, they are going to have to deal with their consequences.
Still, I feel petty and mean. And guilty. And I resent my brother’s attempt at manipulating and guilting me into doing what he wanted. The sooner he learns that he needs to handle things on his own, the better our sibling relationship will be. I hope.
In preparation for the wedding, I am getting my hair color fixed on Tuesday. I have my fingers crossed it goes well, because I’m not sure I could get it fixed again in between now and the wedding. I also have PT for my impinged (and frozen!) shoulder along with a neurology appointment this week.
And then I see a psychic medium on Friday. Should be an interesting experience and I’m not entirely sure I believe in them. I hope to report back on all the goings-on next week.