Friday, June 26, 2009

Sis...You Made it So Hard to Love You

My oldest sister passed away some years back. While I was here in Bahrain of course. It was merely by chance that I even knew of her passing as she still lived in the town I grew up well as one of my childhood friends. It was this friend who sent me an email full of condolences over the recent death of my sister...a death I had no idea about. Considering that my Mother had not called me herself to tell me my sister had passed...I assumed she was unaware of it as well.

You might wonder how it is my sister, her daughter, could pass away without either of us even knowing (along with my other sis and brother etc)...easy enough to explain...she disowned the lot of us some years before she died.

Me specifically....but everyone else by association.

Her name was Tammy Lynn and she was 5 years older than me. She was Harley Davidson girl..never wore a bra and rarely panties...and didnt care who knew it. Her house was kept shrouded with heavy curtains...her room was decorated in Harley Davidson items...and was kept dark with both its decor and by the windows being covered. She smoked pot excessively, drank alcohol daily and abused her kids hourly. Her favorite color was black...except when it came to people, then she was a pure racist. Ironic considering the rest of us females in the family have taken rather a shine to darker skinned men.

Tomorrow is her bday and she would be 46 years old. She died 5 years ago with only 2 of her 4 children around her as she had alienated the 2 older ones at that point. They would have nothing to do with her. I imagine it was only a matter of time before the younger ones came of age and headed for the horizon as well.

Her life from the moment of her birth, breach that nearly killed her as well as my Mother, was filled with pain and some kind of inner torment that she seemingly could never be free from. She was so full of anger and hate for things and people that she constantly drove those nearest to her away. Quite often they came back ...only to be driven away again at some point. Eventually even the most die hard of her friends eventually left her for good. Her demons were a busy lot.

I grew up with an older sis that blazed a trail of destruction where ever she went. She continually failed in school, caused so many troubles with teachers and other students that my father eventually pulled her out in the 8th grade. (she would get her GED years later). She became sexually active at the age of 15 and became pregnant almost immediately. She married (by force if I understand as my father threatened to kill the guy if she didnt) this much older boyfriend and set about destroying that relationship right from the start. As soon as she turned 18 she separated then divorced him but never let him forget what a dismal failure he was as a father to their two children.

The fact that she burned so many bridges before I even got to cross them meant most of the time there werent any left standing that I could cross. My parents forbid me dating, going to parties, joining clubs, working part time and even driving merely because my sister had caused such havoc in each of those activities long before I could even start on them. I had a dismal childhood for many reasons merely because I was a middle child...and second in line after a hell raiser.

She constantly wreaked havoc in my life since I was old enough to understand her malicious streak. She would constantly break things, steal things, fail to do chores etc....and blame it on me. She would steal any boy that ever showed a glimmer of interest in me (and believe me their werent sister was considered a beauty...I was a tomboy with red hair and contest) then throw them away once they had forgotten they even liked me. She stabbed me in the back so many times Im surprised I dont spurt water when I drink...I have lost count of the many times she had me crying over her failure to see that I loved her...but she would throw it back in my face...again and she did with all of us...her family.

My Mother and her were so much alike in many ways it was scary. If you pointed this out to either of them they got upset and declared themselves NOTHING like the other. I do believe it was why they clashed so was like looking in the mirror and seeing the worst of yourself manifested. However, my Mother had a sweeter side that dominated her sister was rarely sweet and never willingly showed emotion unless is was anger and hate.

The interesting thing between the two of us is that we were raised in the same the same parents. We suffered the same (all though my mother claims I suffered more at my fathers hands simply because my sister escaped at 15...that left only me to bear the brunt)...and yet we turned out as different as night and day. People were, and still are, surprised to learn that we were sisters. We looked nothing alike. Had extremely opposite personalities and characteristics...and generally viewed the world from different colored lenses....but she was my sister and I loved her despite her constant attack at my heart strings...trying to cut them once and for all...why...I dont know....I imagine I will never know.

When I got the email that my sister had died (btw NEVER send such heart stopping soul crushing news via email...just so you know) and realized that I would have to tell my was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. To pick up the phone and call Mom and tell her that not only had one of her children passed away....but it was her most difficult child...the one she cried over the most...the one she suffered from the most...the one she loved but could never find a stable relationship with not based on anger and hate...and now never would.

As I paused to gather my strength while my Mother waited patiently for me to tell her the "bad news"...I imagined what her first words would be once I had spoken.

"Mom...I dont know how to tell you this. Its so hard for me to do," I breathed out shuddering. She told me just to tell was the only way to do it.

I took a deep breath and forced out the words...."Mom, Tammy passed away...she's dead."

For a moment I heard nothing...knowing my Mothers health problems etc I feared the worst...but was completely shocked when Mom spoke...for she said something that was nothing like what I expected...

"Tammy can finally rest now, Your demons are gone," she whispered out across the phone lines...more to herself...possibly forgetting I was there for a moment.

We realized from the obit in the papers that Tammy's funeral was only 2 days my Mom and younger sis had to act fast and prepare to go attend it...even though they hadnt been informed by my sis's current husband or even any of her Mom was going and that was that. Any broken relationship they may have had in life...came to an end upon death...her death.

The hardest thing about my sister's death, besides realizing she and I could never repair what had been broken now...was the fact that I had to suffer my grief alone. My husband, being the ass that he was, shouted at me for crying for her...claiming that as Muslims we werent allowed to feel sorrow over kafirs deaths...and that considering the life she lead she was most likely in Hell already!!!

He was such a bastard in those broken hearted days of mine. Of course I didnt believe him but it tore me up anyways to hear such heartless words coming from him. He wouldnt even hug me or console me in anyway...and so I suffered...quietly and alone. It was torture and I dont wish that sort of pain on anyone.

I have two boxes of pics of my life and all those who have been in it. One box is with me and the other happens to be with my daughter in Texas (she will be bringing it back to me next least she better) I searched the box I had looking for a pic of my sis to put here...but there was only one...and its not a very flattering one at I wont put it. Just so you get a picture of her...when she was young people likened her to a Tatum Oneal/Sally Fields type girl. She had the two dimples and strategically placed birth mark as well with perfectly flared hair and a white flashy smile...when she chose to use it.

She had a hard life with many abusive men scattered throughout. She suffered a severe car accident in which both her legs, among other things, were broken and she had a long haul recovery. She suffered heart problems later on which apparently eventually put her in a wheel chair in her late 30's...none of this we knew as she wouldnt allow anyone to tell us. Im not sure why her husband or children...or even any of the few friends she had...would keep such secrets for her. Some secrets just shouldnt be Mom could have been there with her...taking care of her....and basically she couldnt run away as she was prone to doing. They would have had to face each other whether she liked it or not...which is maybe why she didnt want Mom to know.

Anyhow, despite all the pain and heartbreak my sister created in our lives...we miss her terribly. Those who believe in God insist that a sinful soul as hers would find God hard pressed in allowing her access to Heaven and all its delights...I, for one, believe God forgives those with mental illness as unable to control their actions etc. She obviously suffered from some form of mental illness...whether it be bi-polar...depression...whatever.

She was a troubled soul that could never find peace in life...I hope she found peace in death.

Happy birthday sis...I miss you.


Chiara said...

May she rest in peace. God is an excellent diagnostician, and recognizes a traumatized, personality disordered sufferer, with or without a mood disorder, when He receives one in Heaven.

The Queen said...

so sad. There must be a story of the funeral in there somewhere. I hope it was peaceful for your mother. Are you going to share?

Aynur said...

ahhhhh, this makes me cry. It really really sounds like she was mentally ill. From what I understand, those who are mentally ill are not judged the same as those who are healthy mentally.
And for your ex to say she's probably in hell? He's not God! Astaghfirullah.
I can understand how a close family member might pass away without others knowing - I know if I would die, my parents, brother, and sister would not know. And vice versa. That's what happens when people start disowning each other. :(

Umm Omar said...

What a deeply powerful post. I devoured every word of it. You seem to have such a big heart. After all that you've been through with her, you still respectfully remember her and wish the best for her.
I just cringed when I read what your ex said to you. I'm so sorry you had to go through that alone and that he said such things to you.
Thanks for sharing these reflections.

Chiara said...

Just to clarify, traumatic stress disorders (acute, post, delayed onset, chronic) and personality disorders, especially severe ones, are mental illnesses.

coolred38 said...


Queen...yes the funeral itself was a revelation of sorts for my mother...I might post on that as well.

Aynur...its incredibly sad that families can break apart to such an extent that one of them can die and the rest dont know. You always feel like you have a chance to mend it...but then all chances are gone when one of you passes.

Umm Omar...thank you. It wasnt the first time he did that actually...Ive had a few family members die throughout the 20 years...and he was always the same. You would think I would have gotten use to it...but its not something you can get use too.

Chiara...thats right. Thanks for the info.

Chiara said...

You're welcome, and a post on the funeral would be welcomed, and might prove cathartic for you too. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Red,

Heart breaking. I guess I don't have anything I can add that others haven't already said.

In my family too each of us children reacted differently to the trauma of growing up in our disfuntional family(what a bland, banal term). I like you was a middle child and in my case I was the desperate peace keeper in a home where peace could not be sustained. We each cope differently, some more effectively than others I guess, but an unhappy childhood can never be completely overcome or outlived. We are who we are. Fat Too

Yasemin said...

Happy birthday to your sister dearest one. If you don't mind me asking, what was the cause of death?

So it sounds like she likely suffered from depression or bipolar disorder sweetie. Your mother had the same disorder most likely and just like me and my mom, they clashed because of how they mirrored one another.

You remind me so much of what Heather might feel about me, unloved, because mom was always cleaning up my and your sister's messes.

So tonight I hope that you know habibty, that your mother loved both of you. She may have favored you more than you know, because you were the sister who didn't ask her to return the emotional love quite as much. But, it didn't seem like she cared, because your sister took up so much of her energy. Sweetie, your mom was trying to save HERSELF in saving your sister....

I loved this post. You have a beautiful spirit and I pray that tonight your sister is at peace. Love you Red.

coolred38 said...

Fat Too...Its always interesting to see how different personalities etc are formed even when all concerned are raised in the same house. Incidently my younger sis and I arent much alike either...but then she was the REAL daughter of psycho dad...he treated her like royalty for much of her life (all though she did suffer her moments as well near the end). Mom had this love/hate thing going on with sis...not that she really hated her but my sis just caused her so much grief...over the smallest of just seemed like hostility was always boiling under her skin...maybe there was something between them I dont know about...makes me sad to see such a wasted life.

fred_says said...

sorry to say this, but if your dad treated her like royalty it very much sounds like he sexually abused her rather than just physically. which would more than likely explain her more destructive behaviour.

you have my sympathies, but she (may she rip) has more.

janice said...

Oh CoolRed, you're a powerful story teller.

Though I'm a Messianic Jew, I too believe G-d welcomes those tortured souls into the Kingdom.

So sorry you had to mourn alone.

Chiara said...

Fred--you seemed to have Coolred's sisters confused, her father treated the youngest, his only biological one like royalty, not the eldest described here. That in itself says alot about his parenting abilities (biological at best), and of course doesn't preclude any type of abuse of anyone.

I'm sure Coolred will accurately identify her sisters for us, especially as I'm only 2/3 on her photographed children. LOL :)

Suroor said...

What a sad post. May she rest in peace and happy birthday to her :(

coolred38 said...

Fred...I think u confused the two girls...older one abused...younger one the princess. ty for the words.

Janice...thank you. It is difficult to grieve alone...but I did have my kids lending their shoulders to cry on...they were real savoirs at times for me. far you have it

Suroor...thank you.

Susanne said...

Oh, this was very touching. I felt your emotions and I am nearly crying. I am sorry first of all that you had to find this out by e-mail and secondly that you had to deliver the news to your mom. I'm sorry your ex-husband was such a thoughtless, evil man for saying such things and making you grieve alone.


I am so sorry. :`-(

coolred38 said...

Susanne...thank you for the kind words. It helped that my kids were very attuned to my distress and gathered around me when I needed them. They were young but knew how to give me what I needed when I needed it.

Ana said...

You have such a wonderful gift in communicating with others your life experiences. I feel as though I know your family, as though I knew your sister.

Your story saddened me and brought tears to my eyes. I guess we all suffer in some kind of way in our lives. Life hurts a lot, but we'll be OK.

Insha Allah, you'll see Tammy in Paradise.

coolred38 said...

Ana...its true...we all suffer. Im sure anyone can write in an interesting way if they are writing from their heart...from a life experience. Your emotion cant help but come through on the to speak.

Jewels said...

Hi Coolred- this is totally off-topic but I know you've been reading here.

If you're daughter isn't back from the US yet- and you are worried about getting her through Heathrow- check with Heathrow itself about assistance- not the airline. They certainly help with disabled. Heathrow has a website.

Good luck with everything. I first saw you on Susie's blog=but we actually know each other- though last I heard you were in the States. I'm an American in Saudi and we both knew Myrick. I used a different name then.

Take care

coolred38 said...

Jewels...hmmm...I can only think of a few ladies that lived in Saudi, expressed themselves as well as you (on other blog) and knew Myrick as well.

My daughter is safe and sound now but thanks for taking the time to comment. I had some hairy moments there not being able to contact her...but the employees of Heathrow stepped in and guided her...without official orders. My gratitude towards them is bottomless.

Thanks for stopping by.

أم ترافيس said...

it really amazes me the burdens we bear... sometimes i think we spend our whole adult lives trying to undo the pain of our childhood.

I am sorry you are hurting... may Allah ease your burdens

coolred38 said...

UmmTravis...I agree with you. I wish we could just leave it all back there to die a quick and painless death...unfortunately..we love to carry out burdens with us every step of the way...until death if we need too...sigh.

Thank you.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Wow, this was such a powerful post. It amazing how you still had so much capacity to love your sister even after all the pain. It sounds like she had little control over her emotions, but may not have realized how much pain she caused others. I hope she found some peace.

coolred38 said...

Stacey...I loved my sister despite all her problems...but because of them as well. I knew it wasnt HER that was doing those things to me. I gave her the excuse...I suggest more people do the same when it comes to family members that clearly exhibit abnormal behavoir...whether or not they are ever diagnosed properly.

Anonymous said...

It's so sad that your husband said all that stuff and didn't even offer a comforting hand.I trully sympathise.I know how it feels to feel for someone who don't get along with you.I recently lost someone in my own home,so I understand.As you said God forgives for those who had a troubled soul.May she rest in peace,inshallah.

coolred38 said...

Lat...ty...Im sorry to hear of your loss. Ive lost several family members since coming to much loved grandfather was the first...the ex was the same with everyone of them. He never gave me a word of kindess about my family in all the years we were married....sigh.

You think you get use to it but you dont.

angie nader said...

wow..this was a really deep post. sometimes its hard to deal with love hate family relations. i hope there are some special memories you have of your sister to keep in your heart.