the horrible family

the horrible family

A Story by Lyn Anderson
"

For Margie, who inspires me to seek my truth

"
It was a perfectly lovely day. Beautiful and hot. They arrived at the secluded spa, nestled in a tranquil farm about an hour's drive from their homes. Kara wanted to treat mom to something truly special for Mother's Day. She purchased the certificate and booked the appointment. They had to wait till nearly July to coordinate their schedules with the spa, and the day was finally here. 
It started out truly magical, with fluffy white robes and fresh fruit and pastries for breakfast. Mom went for a massage and Kara went for a facial. They met up and chatted over mani-pedis. 
Normally, in this type of situation, neither of them would have their phones. But, because dad just had his pacemaker put in, they both had their phones. 
The phone rang and it was from mom and dad's house. Alarm bells went off in her head immediately, and she apologised to the estheticians tending to her toes as she picked up the phone. 

"Umm," the hesitant voice on the other end was dad. "There's kind of an emergency", he said. "
"Ok," Kara hesitated, "what's up?"
Mom was looking at her worriedly from the other chair.
"It's your sister. She is at the Cameron police station and wants us to pick her up. I don't know what to do."

Kara took the number of the police station from her dad and told him she'd deal with it. They had not heard from her sister in nearly a year. 

Her sister, Angel, left town last fall claiming abuse, after they tried to help her get a place to live and get treatment. In 13 months her sister moved 11 times, twice she stayed at her place, causing havoc with her daughters and niece. 
Angel abandoned the apartment Kara and her parents set her up in. She said her 65 year old retired widow landlord wanted to kill her. The task of cleaning the apartment, covered in finger paint and childish drawings, not to mention a feces filled toilet that had been used repeatedly without flushing, and storing or disposing of all of her worldly belongings was left to big sister to deal with. As usual, Kara's brother in law, who hadn't been married to her sister in over 10 years, helped clean up the ex's mess. 

Now, somehow, on the day she came to a spa just outside of Cameron, her sister had burst in again, like a whirlwind. They could, as they had always done, throw out the life preserver, turn upside down their lives, fear for their own physical and mental well-being as they watched Angel fall apart in front of them, writhing and spitting, and blaming them for everything bad that ever happened to her.

Kara's mom looked at her. "We can't," she said simply.

With a heavy heart Kara picked up the phone and spoke to the police officer. The police officer, to his credit, pulled out all the stops. "She has no where to go." 

"I understand." Kara said, measuring every word, as with a spoon.
"We can't take her unless she wants to go directly to a hospital and check herself into psychiatric care. There is no option here. We've been down this road for over 20 years."

Despite the officer's protests, and with a pit in her stomach, Kara hung up the phone.

They tried to have a good rest of the day. But the sun seemed gloomy. The idle chatter over the beautiful lunch seemed meaningless. Together, they had done it. They had stopped enabling. Now they both wondered when the next call would be. The one where they had to identify the body in the drawer.


© 2018 Lyn Anderson



Author's Note

Lyn Anderson
Our mental health system is broken. Forcible commitment and treatment is so hard to actually obtain. We expect a mentally ill person, riddled with pain and confusion and paranoia, to accept or admit themselves. If the police bring them for treatment, they release themselves after 72 hours ... an endless cycle of despair and homelessness we say they have chosen because they have the right to refuse treatment no matter how sick they are. My sister is not dead, as far as I know. But Angel died a long time ago, sometime around 30 years ago. Her light snuffed out by a disease whose name we aren't even allowed the privilege of knowing, because family does not have access unless granted by the patient.

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Reviews

I have been in this story...make everyone feel horrible and helpless. What many dont understand is that it affects everyone not just the person with the disorder or syndrome...everyone they come in contact with.

Posted 4 Months Ago


Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

That is the hardest part of it. The afflicted is for empathy the family is left to die
Hello

I normally do line by line critiques, but it seems that this is more of a reader's pov that you wish for. As I read this I thought that the opening should deal with the history of Angel and then the phone call from the father(this is where you could show the stress it has on him and relate it to his recent operation. I say this because all these events I just mentioned, have an effect on that perfect day. You could then go on about how that day has been perfect, how not a cloud in the sky blemished it until then.

The flow of a story is very important. You want the images to form into imagery, and the movement to always move forward. I do like the piece and can sense the personal attachment to it. I liked how she measured out her(mom's) words by the spoon full - that was a nice image. What I thought would help is the flow. There are other little things that could be tightened, some sentence structure and repetitive wordings - but that are where polishing comes in prior to publishing for an audience.

You want to make every word carry an impact, every word needs a place in the story, because each word develops the character as well as the scene.

All this said, I have to respect the strength it took to write this. I believe you still softened the edges concerning your sister; sometimes this is hard not to do because of the attachments a whole life time put in place.

Well done. Thanks for the read.

Silt

Posted 4 Months Ago


Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

Thank you for the time it took to review this piece. I do appreciate. It will perhaps be expanded up.. read more
Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

I've thought about it, and the expansion needs to be more mother daughter than father, because, that.. read more
There can never be any winners in a situation like this, especially when its only the latest episode in a long running series.
Family, through no fault of their own, can be left in ruins in situations like these, and there are many more than most would care to imagine.
When is help really help, when we know the story so well, and you are right, all this goes on amidst a broken system which seems to cause more problems than it aids, with the rules, red tape and extreme lack of funding.
Family life is very rarely the cosy chocolate box scene portrayed to us in our dreams. Sometimes, the best thing is to say no and hope the system lets them in.
One thing is for sure, no one wins.
Beautifully penned ache, which to

Posted 4 Months Ago


Lorry

4 Months Ago

...my ears, sounds like a recent acceptance, that sometimes, we are beyond helping, sadly.
He.. read more
Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

Thanks so much for your compassionate review. One thing I know is lack of services is not necessaril.. read more
An excellent account of what will be familiar to many. I have my own Angel and have never been able to write about her. It takes immense courage to cut off ties, I could never do it. Always waiting for the knock on the door. Maybe that's why I write about my happy childhood, because I have to focus on what is uplifting, instead of what can so easily drag me into the pits (and does). Thank you for this Lyn and also your author's notes.

Chris

Posted 4 Months Ago


Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

Thank you so much I appreciate
Calling it quits to maintaining Angel's destructive lifestyle was the right thing to do, I believe. How hard it had to have been, though, as we want to always show love toward close family members. Alas, there have been several "Angels" in my family, so the story is a familiar one. Without laws to help us, we too often can only wait and watch for the inevitable. (That terrible call) You tell it so well.

Posted 4 Months Ago


Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

Thank you for your review and compassion
Once upon a time Ontario took care of those who could not help themselves, and by doing so helped the families deal with the situation in a far more compassionate manner than today. Then, I guess it was decided that we were infringing on their right to decide whether they wanted help (one of many misguided 'rights' that have been bestowed upon us) and so the hospitals were shut down and those with mental issues could fend for themselves on the streets...take their meds or not...and unintentionally pull their loved ones through the wringer.
For the most part families are not equipped to deal with these problems and they often end up enabling their loved one to no good end. The toughest thing in the world is to back away, that is not human nature and yet, as difficult as it is, it's the only thing that can and should be done.

We can pray our loved ones recover, and never give up hope. All we can really do is keep loving them.

You and Margie deserve my thanks for taking us to that place where we don't want to go. Into our own history to deal with the pain.





Posted 4 Months Ago


Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

Thank you for your very kind and compassionate review. I don't know why we refuse in this province t.. read more
Ted Kniffen

4 Months Ago

Ly, it seems like the only way the government knows how to 'fix' anything is to shovel more money at.. read more
Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

I don't know how to resolve this because no one listens to the people who it affects. Money is defin.. read more
People tell me constantly I should publish -- whatever perceived advantage that might bring. But to me, having written "Brothers" & then you writing this in response -- this is the ultimate reward to me for writing. This is what it's all about for me. You've given me the most sublime gift right here. I found myself honing in on how this interruption was threatening a day you'd planned & waited for -- wondering if Mom would run to the "sick" daughter while spurning the "well" one (what my mom always did). I got a victorious surge when Mom didn't take that route anymore. You show how difficult such choices can be. So many times outsiders judge how we've treated a person with severe disadvantages, but they never know the whole story like you've told it here in a perfectly-chosen snippet. The only thing I found a little confusing is your use of pronouns. It took me a minute to figure out the initial "she" is YOU & there were a couple bumps like this, later on during the phone convo. But pieces like this aren't meant to be technically sparkling. The heart of your piece is what matters. Thank you for gifting me with this vulnerable share (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 4 Months Ago


Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

Yes, unfortunately this private enclave has been violated -- by one I trusted, and by the one I leas.. read more
barleygirl

4 Months Ago

(((HUGS))) . . .
Lyn Anderson

4 Months Ago

To you too. I think, sometimes, we really do get what we need in a day when we open our hearts and m.. read more

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Added on August 4, 2018
Last Updated on August 4, 2018
Tags: family, sister, mental illness, lost

Author

Lyn Anderson
Lyn Anderson

Toronto, Ontario, Canada



About
I write under a pseudonym. I don't do Read Requests, but you can PM me if you want me to read something specific. I make friends with people who I read and interact with. I won't accept random reque.. more..

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