Inlaws & Outlaws- The Reality Of Squabbling Siblings And Lifelong Scars…

Every Mother’s Day is more than a little awkward for me because my mother often forgets who I am due to a traumatic brain injury. 

It’s difficult to act normal visiting with someone who rarely knows who you are and it’s often, painful. Visits to our mother often have my sister and I leaving in tears. We dread our yearly visits to a mother who cared as little for us as a bag of trash laying on a curb. 

Looking through the very few pictures we have of our mother with Tammy in them, you can see the spark left her eyes within months of my brothers birth. 

While our father and his family were ecstatic to finally have a boy birth, our mother must have been struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? 

Four children born so closely together with twins before she was even thirty years old couldn’t have been easy for her. 

When exactly our mother chose to start doing drugs to escape the life my father had built for her no one is really sure of but, it would be the drug use and promiscuity that finally ended their marriage. 

Did she wake up one day and decide to go get high and find a rich man? We will never know the answer. We do know that when she had no money- she exchanged sex for drugs. After one such incident, my mother forgot that she had locked us on the closet and left town for over a week. 

Had it not been for my father wanting to pick us up and wondering where we were,  the four of us would most likely have starved to death in the closet. 

The police finally came to our rent subsidized apartment for single mothers and found us huddled together inside the closet.

My father quickly filed for custody after the closet episode and for awhile we only had to visit our mother on weekends. Our mother always had a man with her during our visits that took her attention away from her four children. 

The divorce of our parents was shocking in the 60’s with a father seeking custody of not only his three children but also another daughter.

After the child custody shifted, our mother no longer had the luxury of child support to fund her exotic wardrobe and thigh high stripper boots or many hours spent drinking and picking up men at the bar.

Throughout their divorce, my mother left us locked in a closet during visitation or locked in a car parked near a bar and occasionally at the supermarket or park. Occasionally, she simply left us all at home. Tammy tended to our brother during the long waits for our mother to return and often told Cindy and I that it would be okay.

It was customary when someone stumbled on four kids with no parent in sight left in the car or abandoned at the park to call the police. These days, CPS would’ve immediately taken the children but back then, the town of Lompoc was accustomed to my mothers erratic behavior driving like a lunatic through town with her four children hanging on for dear life or stumbling out of a bar to her children waiting in the car. Even the police accepted that when we were with our mother during yet another arrest, to call our father, his parents or our other grandparents. 

The police were always kind to my siblings and I when we were locked up wandering the streets or in the car when our mother was arrested. They would take us back to the jail and call my fathers parents first and if they couldn’t get ahold of them, our mothers parents to pick us up. 

We enjoyed our visits to jail where everyone was nice to us with offers of cookies and soft drinks because (not surprisingly) our mother also often forgot to feed us. 

If our mother hadn’t skipped town and left us locked in that closet, my father would have never known what life with our mother was really like. Why? He was always at work. Our father had no idea that saltine crackers were meals with our mother. At Dr Appts, our weight was always questioned. 

Perhaps spending most of our childhood hungry may have been the reason that weight became a problem for my sisters, brother and I as adults but, I will never really know.

My grandmother Tinney had supposedly been planning to fight my father for custody which is why one day after returning home from school, my father told us we were going on an adventure to Oklahoma. 

The adventure? We were moving and would never return to our home in Lompoc and the only life we had ever known. California for Oklahoma? Away from everything familiar to us? It’s no wonder I stopped speaking for a number of years because I didn’t have anything good to say. 

Actually, the midnight moving along with leaving our school and everything else we knew was far more upsetting than my father realized. I liked going to the beach and walking to school with my sister. First Tammy disappears suddenly and then we move to Oklahoma and never return home again? Who wouldn’t be upset? 

Visits with our mother the past 10-20 years often find my twin sister and half sister and I wondering how much our mother actually does remember since she always asks about our brother?! The one person she hasn’t seen since he was two years old. Asking my sisters and I about our brother is a real “hot button” because we cannot understand how our mother could remember one child and none of others. 

“Who are you? Why are you here?” Anyone with a parents who suffers Alzheimer’s realizes the often awkward visits with people who have no idea who they are.From the post office yesterday, I made the obligatory phone call to my mother in Lompoc, California. My plan was to get the Mothers Day phone call to our mom out of the way and enjoy the rest of my day. 

Surprisingly, my mother knew who I was this time and even asked if Cindy was with me but, I hadn’t met my sister yet and explained that we were working. Cindy was picking up last minute items for a client meeting with Steve and planning to meet me for lunch with my son. As usual, my mother asked about my brother. 

Since this asking about my brother continued to bother me, I decided to text our mothers phone number to my brother and suggest that HE CALL her himself if he chose to.

I’m the only one among my sister and brother that sends gifts to our mother and call her on a regular basis and although it bothers me to no end, try to act as normal as possible about a relationship with someone that I’ve never really known who always claims to not know who I am most of the time. It’s frustrating. 

My mother is a touchy subject. For years after our first meeting, my grandmother Tinney sent $10 checks for my sons birthday, my nieces birthdays and my sister and I. I always sent Grandma Tinney photos of our children and letters updating her on life after leaving California and moving back to Texas. 

Moving back to Texas from California and once again, away from the family that I had finally found, life got in the way and I fell out of contact with our sister Tammy again years later. Grandma Tinney and our sister, Tammy were the only real benefit of finding our mother. 

The fact that my mother mentioned my brother on a phone call from me to wish her a happy Mother’s Day (whether she deserved it or not) infuriated me as usual. How she constantly asks about someone she hasn’t seen since he was two years old and yet, can’t remember my sister or I really annoys me. 

Hell, our sister Tammy lived next door to our mother for years! I understand why Tammy finally moved three blocks away with a mother constantly wandering in and out of her house and disrupting her life must’ve been. The mom that gave up her children and custody of Tammy to grandma Tinney. Yes, our grandmother raised Tammy as her own and legally adopted her. 

This “fact” would come up years later in the trust my grandmother and I set up to benefit my mothers four children. Since Tammy had been adopted, my brother and Aunt Nancy questioned why Tammy was left in the trust? I didn’t care that Tammy had benefited from the death of our grandmother and also didn’t care that she would benefit from the death of our mother due to the trust. 

With everyone yelling “Double Dipping” accusations, I stood firm on Tammy’s beneficiary status on the trust. After the life we had all lived, the last thing I was going to do was separate my sister from us again. 

My grandmother never told me that she had adopted Tammy and I’m fairly certain the reason may have been that Tammy had the normal life that we didn’t and perhaps Grandma Tinney blamed herself for only saving Tammy and losing her other three grandchildren was something she had to live with. She cried whenever I talked to her about only being able to save Tammy. 

I didn’t care whether Tammy was my step sister or now considered our mothers sister due to the adoption. Because of this, I upheld Tammy’s position as a beneficiary in the trust. She was my sister regardless of whether she had been adopted or not.

After a lifetime of being split up and separated, the last thing I wanted to do was exclude Tammy in the trust.

Our mother was a heroin addict that I went to the trouble to locate in my 20’s while living in San Clemente, California. Sharon (our mom) has always asked about my brother but never about my son or nieces. My mother seems to only care about our brother.

My sister and brother took no interest in finding our in mother back in 1988 so, I  went searching for my mom and the sister we had lost to a divorce because “she wasn’t my fathers child.” 

Our sister, Tammy was a few years older than Cindy and I and practically raised us with a mother off on drugs and a father off working. 

Tammy was the only mother figure we had. Our grandmother on my fathers side treated all three of us girls as slaves washing windows, dishes or doing other chores while our brother played in the yard. That’s right. My grandmother always found work for us because she loathed housework and cooking. Our grandfather spoiled her into believing that she was too good for such trivial matters. My sisters and I became the built in maids. 

For years after the divorce, Cindy and I worried, wondered and cried about Tammy and wondered why we not only lost a mother in the divorce but, also our sister as well? Following that- a move from our home in Lompoc to Oklahoma. 

Maybe because I was the only one who really cared about finding my mother and sister that “I set the bar far too high” in the hopes that my mother had changed for the better and that perhaps my sister would want to establish a relationship as adults. I was right about my sister but, wrong about my mother.

After the divorce, the photos of Tammy with us showed the unsmiling faces of unhappy children. It was sad but obvious that our family was broken. We were lost and our misery was always visible in the photos often taken by our grandparents  yelling for us to smile! 

Within months, Tammy would disappear from not only family photos but also, our lives. Tammy was often looking down or away from the camera in photos. Treated differently because she wasn’t my fathers child, Tammy was eventually dropped off at our Grandma Tinney’s house and we never saw her again until I set out to find the answers to my many questions. 

Any evidence of the sister we had grown up with was removed by not only our father but also our grandparents. 

All of Tammy’s personal possessions were boxed up and gone. One day she was there and the next day she wasn’t. Her room was across the hall from the room Cindy and I shared with our brothers room across the hall from our father. 

After Tammy never came home again, her room was boxed up and the door left closed. Questions about her sent my dad into a fury. We learned not to ask questions because “children should be seen and not heard.” 

Within a few months of our sisters disappearance, my twin sister and I came home from school to our grandparents and father packing up our house and our lives in Lompoc. 

No one explained why our sister was taken from us or why her photos were removed from the walls and bookcases. It was almost as if she had died and we were never able to mourn the loss. 

The move to Oklahoma was so upsetting to us that for a few months anyway, we forgot the sister who had been left behind in Lompoc. My father, brother and sister and I nearly starved in Oklahoma. 

Had our fathers parents paid him from the sale of our home in Lompoc, things in Oklahoma might have turned out differently. But the greed of his parents and Uncle Bob combined had put my father and his three children at a horrible disadvantage. They knew he was in a compromised position and used it to their own advantage.

My father had taken a job with our Uncle Bob that he literally went broke working. The broken promises and constant carrot chasing of working for Uncle Bob cost my father so much that we rationed whatever was in the crock pot for meals. 

On weekends, my sister and I swept the warehouse and cleaned Uncle Bobs and Aunt Mill’s home. Similar to our grandmother, Aunt Mill always found work for my sister and I. 

Aunt Mill also cut our hip length hair and told us that having long hair was too much trouble. “You don’t have time to take care of long hair. There’s too much work for you to be doing than messing with hair.” In an instant, Aunt Mill cut off nearly 16 inches of hair and our self esteem. Anything we had familiar to us was lost. 

Cindy and I cried at this haircut with Aunt Mill that instantly transformed us from girls into work horses with boys haircuts. She liked us ugly. Thankfully, Uncle Bob and Aunt Mill never had any children.

The stable job our father left in Lompoc at John Mansfield was far more lucrative than the job he took with Uncle Bob. At least he could count on regular pay checks at John Mansfield. The house he left behind? Sold by his parents who also kept the money. 

In this family, being knifed in the back over a few bucks is a regular occurrence. I’m serious. It’s a running joke that after the death of a relative- their bones and assets will be picked clean by the survivors. 

My father trusted his parents and Uncle Bob and they all took advantage of him. By the time my Aunt Shirley Uncle Albert and our grandparents arrived in Oklahoma to save us from starving to death and/or homelessness, we were a sorry sight. 

Everyone packed up the second hand trailer home we had been living in. Cindy and I wouldn’t miss it or Oklahoma. Getting beat up everyday on the bus or cornered in the hall at our Oklahoma Middle School because I didn’t talk, we didn’t have a mother and I took Speech Classes, my sister and I would finally learn how to defend myself in Oklahoma. 

No more coming home with a busted lip or new bruise for us, we used our schoolbooks to bash the bullies that tormented us. Those haircuts were yet another reason to “beat up” on the new kids. Clothes that didn’t fit and shoes that hurt our feet certainly didn’t help us to “fit in.” 

Waiving at the trailer park in the rear view mirror, my father was a shell of the person he had been in Lompoc. It was a scary time- anything or everything seemed to set my father off. I wished that we had been old enough to find work or help my father at that time in our lives but, we weren’t. 

Years later, working harder than anyone else to keep a job, I became a workaholic. Why? Work was the only thing that gave me security.

Warily, we arrived in Texas to yet another new life that we feared would be worse than the one we had left behind in Oklahoma. 

After all, leaving Lompoc for Oklahoma was a step down so far from the life we had known that every move would be a scary and unpredictable change of “for better or for worse.” We were running, drug behind my father who might have been okay on his own but, saddled with three kids, was instead, driven and defined by poverty. 

Someone at school once called us Gypsies. I didn’t know what it meant at the time but now understand that the moving over and over again was probably an accurate description of the lives we led. Packing up became “standard procedure.” 

This moving all of the time after coming home from school would be a regular occurrence throughout the following years of our childhood. A new school, new bullies and a new life. Sadly, these moves were often a step down rather than a step up. 

We hated the constant moving but it took my father a few years to find a stable job at Lockheed Martin. He also would meet our evil stepmother, Jo Anne at Lockheed. 

Why he chose her I have no idea? Other than having a job, Jo Anne didn’t have anything of value. She wasn’t beautiful and she often had a romantic novel in her hand. 

Living in a fantasyland was Jo Anne’s reality when she wasn’t at work or at home getting drunk and finding a reason to sick our dad on us for one reason or another. She enjoyed watching our dad go off on us. It was entertainment. 

Within a few months, my father married Jo Anne with plans of having two incomes. The fear of poverty forever chased my father after life in Oklahoma. He never wanted to be poor or hungry again.

While our father saw stability with his new wife and dual incomes, life with Jo Anne was similar to our fathers mother and our own mother. Why? Jo Anne didn’t cook or clean and also didn’t care if we ate. We washed her clothes and ironed them for her. She was the Princess and we were her slaves. The only responsibilities she had were going to work. Reading those stupid novels and drinking bottles of wine and popping antidepressants. What she had to be depressed about I have no idea. 

While dad and Jo Anne went to dinner after work, our brother split canned bisquits or canned vegetables with my sister and I. Although we were expected to clean the house and wash the clothes waiting on our stepmother hand and foot, Jo Anne never bothered to worry about feeding us. 

Secretly, I wished that she would drink herself to death as a teen and hoped that the life we had with our father back in Lompoc long before Jo Anne came along would return in her absence. It was wishful thinking. 

If not for free lunches at school, getting regular meals during the years of living with Jo Anne would have closely mirrored life with our own mother. All for her and to Hell with us. Our fathers new focus was on keeping his new wife happy and her paycheck safely deposited into their joint account.

To say I hated Jo Anne is putting it mildly. Upsetting her easily enraged my father who after Oklahoma could no longer control his temper. Gone were the days of spanking us that were replaced with “slapping some sense into us or punching it into us.” Jo Anne enjoyed watching my father knock us around the living room because we had upset her. 

Upsetting Jo Anne was cause for a beating from our father and ended with an forced apology to the selfish bitch. It would also be Jo Anne who insisted on throwing my sister and I out of the house with nothing but the clothes on our backs to fend for ourselves at 15 years old. 

We never went back. Jo Anne died young. She was an alcoholic and after quitting her job, our father finally divorced her. I believe it was kharma. My father now looks back on the years spent allowing Jo Anne to intentionally divide his children from their father. 

The children he had fought so hard to keep from their other grandparents in Lompoc and our mother. My father sacrificed his relationship with us for the bonus of Jo Anne’s income but, the sacrifice wasn’t worth it in the years to come. No one wants to die alone. Jo Anne did. I’m guessing her body was found surrounded by romantic novels, wine bottles and antidepressants. 

Jo Anne was so lazy that cleaning never occurred to her and perhaps had mounds of dirty clothes and dirty dishes greeting whoever finally found her body. 

I’m OCD and have been my entire life. Perhaps the cleaning of my grandmother’s home along with Aunt Mill and finally Jo Anne drove me to a perfect home in the hopes of a perfect life? A psychologist once told me that I’m driven to have everything neatly put away in order to have control of the chaos that surrounds my life. He may have been right. I must have a clean car and tidy home at all times in order to feel safe and, in control. It’s very important to me.

Thank God Jo Anne never had children of her own. Had she quit working early on in their marriage, we would’ve been spared from the years my sister and I spent being her maids. 

Children don’t care if their sister isn’t “by blood” and I spent many years wondering if perhaps Tammy felt the loss of her siblings as much as Cindy and I did? How could someone you had spent your childhood with just vanish? Tammy never left Lompoc and still lives there today. Like my niece, Stephaney, Tammy has been a waitress at an upscale restaurant for most of her life. 

My twin sister understood my desire to get some answers but was too uncomfortable and angry about our mother to attend my first meeting with her since the last time I saw her closing the door nearly twenty years earlier.

My son is nearly thirty and Cindy’s daughters are 33 and 31 so they are all obviously, adults. Our kids have always had two mothers, my twin sister and I. We raised our children and grandchildren as a team since after our first divorces, we were single parents.

Although my son is married, they have no children. My son and his wife have four dogs who are their children. My niece, Leigh Ann is married with a two year old daughter and lives with Cindy, the twins and Steve.

Our brother is four years younger than us but on occasion, can get upset with me about stupid things he disagrees with whether his reasons are logical, or not. Our arguments regarding him praising the grandmother that never lifted a finger for Cindy, Tammy or I go on and on. 

My dad and my brother loved our grandmother because she loved them and often told us “if you were boys, you would have some value. No one wants girls.” 

My brother is strong willed and opinionated. My brother is my fathers “favorite.” Visits with my father revolve around “Jerry this or Jerry that or Jerry thinks this.” 

My father puts our brother on a pedestal and when I decided to start Texas Twins Events years ago, my father and brother laughed and laughed about what a stupid idea offering low cost event services was. They don’t laugh anymore. I’m not stupid and have spent my life in sales as has my twin sister. 

Texas Twins Events was created for people just like my twin sister and I who didn’t have parents or a family to help them with a Life Event. 

Affordable options never existed prior to my business plan. The people no one wanted to help in the events industry flocked to us and the rest is history. 

Making fun of my sister and I about LBGT Marriages and even Prison Weddings is a regular occurrence with certain members of my family who “don’t believe in gay marriage or Prisoners marrying.” I didn’t give a damn about their opinions or, being the butt of many jokes. What I did care about was helping people! I’ve never let anyone stomp on my ideas with their narrow minded opinions. This includes my family. Their opinions have never paid my bills. 

My goal was to start an LBGT Friendly business and be the person helping others that I never had. We didn’t have a mother or father paying for our weddings or buying our dresses. 

Because I recognized the financial  limitations of families with no one to help them, I set out to change the dynamics of Dream Events and, I have along with my family. Texas Twins Events opened a window to welcome anyone with affordable options for their Wedding, Baptism, Funeral, Birthday Party, Estate Liquidation, Rent Party, Prison Wedding and more.The twins are 13 and my sisters and I priority. The twins always come first and our own needs, second. This isn’t unusual as the same scenario played out with both of my nieces and my son when they were young. Kids first- Cindy and I? Always last.

Our children and grandchildren have the happy, smiling photos that we never had and, raising our children with love, stability and support was our greatest gift to them. They rely on us because they can. 

The twins have grown up surrounded by love and stability. We didn’t move every few years and disrupt their lives the way that ours had been. 

We wanted them to feel safe and secure. Knowing where they would wake up the next day and never having to worry about coming home and packing again to move like we did so many years of our childhoods. Being the mom you never had was easy for my twin sister and I. We took everything we had learned from our mom and threw that book in the trash! 

Our adult children also work at my businesses and have other side jobs and know the value of hard work.

Parents traditionally put their children’s needs above their own even though our own parents didn’t. We were always an afterthought as children. “Children should be seen and not heard.” 

Compassion is so rare these days that it’s no wonder that gratitude is also in short supply. 

Today, while driving my niece who is recently out of rehab to get her nails done and buy work uniforms for her new job, my sister advised me that our brother was upset that I had sent him a text asking if he wanted to call our mother. I had sent him s text but, wondered “what could be so upsetting about a text?”

Frankly, driving my niece around to try and help her get on her feet yet again, I was already in a bad mood. Everyone else’s problems always seem to come before my own. 

I haven’t had my nails done in over a month or even had the time to use my gift certificate for a massage that my husband gave me because when I’m not working– I’m fixing everyone else’s problems or driving them to do the things that I don’t have time to do for myself. 

Currently the “everyone else” is my niece, Stephaney. Cindy and I hired an attorney to get custody of Maryssa and Makenna when they were 1 month old. 

Stephaney will tell you that Cindy and I “stole the twins” but, the truth is that Cindy and I saved them from the life we had already l lived with our own mother.

Stephaney has had a problem with self medicating and Bipolar One her entire life. If she had been the custodial parent, the state would have taken the twins long ago. On more than one occasion the past 13 years, CPS upon learning that Stephaney had twins, arrived at Cindy’s home demanding the children. 

Cindy and I spent thousands to get sole custody of the twins and it was a good investment because Cindy keeps the papers near her front door to show anyone asking about the twins or their relationship with their mother that Stephaney has never had custody of the twins and effectively tells them to “go bug off- these kids are mine!” 

Saving the twins kept them from the unpredictable childhood we had endured. No one wants their 15 year old daughter pregnant and much less with twins but, we banded together and sheltered the twins from the storm their mother would’ve put them through.

Addicts are traditionally every other generation in our family and thankfully, the only person with an addiction issue is my niece. 

Stephaney claims to have been “born this way” and listening to all of her problems, needs and wishes while being told she was pregnant was just too much for me. Really? After everything else she has pulled the last 6 months? 

I’m so sick and tired of hearing one shocking confession after the next with my niece that whether she was pregnant or not, I belted out “then you had better find a husband because I can assure you that your mother and I will not under any circumstances be raising another child of yours!” 

A few years ago, my niece claimed to be a Lesbian. Trying to shock or upset us is an ongoing ordeal. “I’m in jail again, come get me out! Someone stole my car- come find it! I lost my car keys- fix this! I’m pregnant- someone needs to take care of me!” You get the point. 

Honestly, Cindy and I were kicked out at 15 because I was pregnant. Perhaps I get so angry at my niece because when she was pregnant, rather than kicking her in the streets with no money, no job and no car to fend for herself, Cindy and I rallied around her and gave her the opportunities that my father hadn’t given us? It upsets me. My twin sister and I were forced to quit school school because I was pregnant and, we were homeless. 

No one plans to get pregnant at 15 but, like everything rise in our lives- we treated Stephaney’s surprise pregnancy with the kindness that hadn’t been shown to me or my sister.

A phone call from my niece when she’s off her medication can ruin an otherwise fun filled day. It’s always an emergency when Stephaney is calling. It’s always her emergency too. “I just had a blowout- send my dad over here.” 

Never mind that her dad, Steve is on OTR driver and only home for one day a week that just laid down to sleep. My niece never considers others and I believe that she’s so hard to please that she may never find a husband.

Stephaney is so good at dumping her problems on my sister and I that at 31 years old, I decided to give her a wake up call and advise her that “we are 53 years old and nearly 14 years into raising the twins without child support from either parent much less childcare assistance and we have no intentions of solving another unwed pregnancy or raising another child.” 

With Stephaney’s history of dumping responsibility on everyone else, I suggested that if she was pregnant, she should put the baby up for adoption. I meant it. My sister and I are out on raising more grandchildren.

Cindy and I are four years away from raising the twins to 18 years old and like anyone else, we are  looking forward to a few childcare free years with our husbands who are 15 years older than us. 

No more driving the twins to a birthday party or baseball game. No more last minute projects that are due the next day. The twins will be driving, going to college and working. Our only worry will be who they are dating and what friends they are hanging around with.

My twin sister and I have spent our lives raising two generations of children. After the latest pregnancy announcement with Stephaney, it’s the second time in four years that my niece has pulled the “I’m pregnant”  guilt card on us, so my temper was at an all time high. Why? When people in this family step in shit- they want everyone else to clean their shoes. The last thing I need is Stephaney throwing another kid on Cindy or I. 

Our husbands are planning to retire and believe me, they don’t want us raising another child either. Our husbands have sacrificed vacations to take care of the twins needs but, grandparents raising grandtwins is one thing and doing this all over again is another. We are too old, too tired and ready for a break. 

The last thing I want to hear after 6 months of my niece being off the rails again, losing her first job and going through 3 more and being institutionalized 3 times is that she’s pregnant. 

I’m now numb to surprises that Stephaney springs on me. Cindy is too. We aren’t even sure if she really is pregnant but just hearing it again is as upsetting to the twins as it is for us.

My niece could have found a husband years ago since she had plenty of time for friends and fun with no responsibilities of caring for the twins much less, supporting them. 

Cindy and I have hung up our “old mother in a shoe” lives and don’t care who is having a baby around here anymore. If our adult children want to have kids- it’s their responsibility to fund them and pay for childcare not ours.

Cindy gave up a lot to raise the twins since she had to stop working and become a stay at home grandmother for not one baby but, two. The loss of income to their household income without Cindy working was negative $30k.

When you combine the loss of income Cindy gave up leaving her job and add the combined expenses of 2 babies that included medical expenses, diapers, formula, clothing, shoes and toys it’s easily noticeable that a strain of financial magnitude is the reason for Cindy’s high blood pressure. 

For Cindy giving up her job and income to support the twins while listening to her daughter complain that we stole her kids gives you a far better “clue” of who is right and who is wrong. 

This accusation of stealing the twins is ridiculous. Stephaney is far too involved with herself to pay attention to the twins other than an afterthought. “Tell me you love me- I’m your mother.” For the twins, Cindy is their mother. The only mother they have ever known.

These continued arguments about the twins with my niece infuriate me. She wants the twins to respect her but the only people they could count on have always been Cindy and I along with our husbands. You can’t make children respect you.

I was less than thrilled about my niece  turning up the radio on a channel I dislike in my SUV or giving me her opinion regarding my mother and brother. She also raises her voice at me on occasion and if I’m driving, I pull over and tell her to either shut up or get out. If there’s one thing I cannot stand it’s having someone yelling at me in my own car.

People (especially Stephaney) giving me advice on a subject they know nothing about have me wanting to “slap some sense into them.” Seriously. Unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes and struggled through life with one hardship after the heft and no one to help you- you have no idea how my sister and I think or feel.

Cindy and I have helped our adult children over and over again. We gave them the lifeline that we had never had. Stephaney demanded to see the twins yesterday since she hadn’t seen them on Mother’s Day. I decided to tell her the truth after listening to her scream “I want to see my fffing kids!”

I pulled over for this discussion and said, “Stephaney you can’t demand to see your teenager kids after the past 6 months of your behavior. They don’t want to see you or talk to you until you are stable. They’ve trusted over and over to keep it together and, you didn’t. I warned you that one day they would give up on you and they are. You must earn now earn their trust. If you dissapoint them again, I’m afraid you will be as alone as our mother. I’m serious about this, kids move on and, the twins will too.” My niece started crying but tears don’t mend bad relationships.

Forcing my niece to grow up is the hardest thing my twin sister and I have ever done. Her “suggestion” months ago about quitting school and getting a GED to the twins had us both ready to kill her. Why? Because Stephaney quit school. She never finished or got a GED. Telling the twins that a GED is equivalent to a high school diploma was the stupidest thing that I have ever heard. 

Cindy and I were homeless at 15 and never had the opportunity to finish high school or go to the prom. We want the twins to have the life and the education that we never did. 

At 15, Cindy and I were working and by 24, we worked 2 jobs and paid our own way through college. An education is priceless and a GED or “Good Enough” Diploma won’t get you into a good college. 

Cindy and I had to survive and finishing school was an opportunity that we never had as teens. Stephaney could have easily finished school. She wasn’t homeless and had no financial obligations to pay rent or support her children but, she didn’t. I begged her to at least get a GED but, it “wasn’t important.”

Stephaney is a 15 year investment of one escapade after the next. My twin sister and I are both praying she gets her act together this time and keeps this job which is why I was driving her to run errands. If she doesn’t, Cindy and I will be forced to walk away. We have to in order to focus on the twins and our businesses. 

Stephaney’s car needs hundreds of dollars of repairs and Cindy and I have both declined to spend more money on her vehicle, pay her insurance or her surcharges. I bought her a bus pass last week that she refuses to use. 

Due to our schedules, if we can’t drive her to work, she walks. The endless responsibilities of helping my niece are a heavy burden. 

I wonder if in our old age if our children will care for us after the many sacrifices we have made for them? While Cindy and I can rely on each other, the only children who put our needs first are the twins. 

Often these days, unless the adult children need us for something, Cindy and I are the last thing on their minds. Have we spoiled them so much that getting a Mother’s Day gift or buying a card will never happen? I wonder. The twins always remember us on Mother’s Day. The last time my son brought me a gift for Mother’s Day was years ago. 

I was so lit up about my brother being upset at over something so minor that I nearly called him to give him a piece of my mind. 

For years I’ve been upset at him but continued to send Christmas presents, clothing for his kids and more. Never once was I thanked for going out of my way. It wasn’t only the gifts though, the money I had loaned him years before and the baby furniture that I had loaned him have had me furious the past 24 years too. All for Jerry. It’s always been that way. 

I asked my brother to do one thing- call our mother so she will stop asking me about him and he’s put out? Driving along, I went over all the times that I was the only person standing in line to help my brother when he needed it. 

Not my grandmother and not anyone else was sending him care packages and letters every week for years- it was me and never once did I get a thank you for not only my time and expenses but also my compassion. 

If all you do is give, give, give I can assure you that one day you will question the giving that never results in a return. Cindy has and stopped sending gifts to our brother long ago. Why? She never got a thank you and she never got a birthday card or Christmas card either. “Why should I send something to someone that never sends anything to me?” 

Cindy had a valid point. I’ve decided to join her in the never receiving and always giving stance. At least she isn’t mad about doing something for nothing.

After years of never getting a thank you card and much less, a card, I learned to ship priority mail packages in order to track packages and make sure they arrived. 

Since no one at my brothers house bothered to call and thank me much less send a card. It’s pretty infuriating to me but, acknowledging mine or Cindy’s generosity is the last thing our own family ever think about. We are surrounded by self involved narcissistic relatives. 

In my mind, driving Stephaney to get work clothes, I’m wondering what on earth can be so upsetting to him? He hasn’t called or written much less went to visit our mother while Cindy and I have made numerous trips to Lompoc for not only court hearings on the trust but also, obligatory meetings with our mother that are not exactly lovey dovey. 

We leave visits with our mother feeling depressed and often angry that as usual, our mother didn’t know who the Hell we were but, asked about our brother again. 

How our mother can remember someone who hasn’t seen her in 40 some odd years aggravates the shit out of me! She can remember him but not the daughters she has seen and spoke to over and over again? 

While my niece was getting her nails done, and shopping, I was fuming mad about my brother and all the years of doing whatever it took to help him. 

Over my lifetime, some of the things I sacrificed to save him would forever haunt me and, eventually destroy my first marriage. 

Yes. I always put my family’s need first and it wasn’t always a good decision. I’m older and wiser now and no longer put myself in financial despair because someone in my family needs my money more than I do. I no longer run up my credit cards sending money to anyone either. After all, I’m never going to get a thank you for my efforts so why bother? 

My brother wasn’t happy with me because I had sent a text from the post office asking my brother to give our mother a call if he wanted to and for once in my life, remove all of the responsibility of doing everything myself  for our mother including sending a Mother’s Day card and a gift as well as making a phone call. 

I wasn’t comfortable doing any of these things but did anyway. Asking him to call her somehow put him out so much that he had to call our dad and complain about it? Two to three minutes out of his life? 

After all of these years on Mother’s Day, I asked my brother if he could call our mom and I get the gift of my brother being mad at me for: 1. Finding my mother in the first place. 2. Paying her to meet me. 3. Her being involved in an accident. 4. Setting up a trust benefit my siblings. 

My brother is angry for no apparent reason and only cares about the money he’s done nothing to deserve and has done everything possible to remove himself from the trust by disinheriting himself in a letter sent to our mother long before the trust existed. 

After all, he was the cherished child. Our brother was never homeless as Cindy and I were. Our brother was always loved and got whatever he wanted as a child. While Jerry had a new bike, Cindy, Tammy and I rode garage sale bikes. 

Years ago, I announced that I wanted to find  my mom and my entire family flipped out and called me a traitor for wanting answers to my lifetime of questions. “How could you do that to our dad?” My brother demanded. 

Hey man! I didn’t exactly have a happy childhood and thought that perhaps the grass on the other side was greener. Maybe she had tried to find me but was unsuccessful? 

I had literally convinced myself that maybe she wasn’t such a bad person after all? I had nothing else positive in my life and felt that having more family would fill the void.

My grandmother told me that our mothers side of the family hated us and never wanted to see us and yet still, I was an adult and determined to get the answers to my many questions regardless of whether my family apprived or not. I didn’t need their permission. I needed answers! 

The only opinion I actually cared about was my twin sisters who although she wouldn’t go with me, did nothing to try and stop me. 

Cindy supported my choice regardless of how she felt about a mother who had abandoned us and for the first 6 years of our lives, forgot us everywhere she went. Yes. Cindy hated our mother and after years of being told how much our mother hated us, couldn’t bring herself to go with me. My family never let up telling us what a loser our mother was. My dad hated me because I looked like her. 

The “accident” after my meeting with our mother was the second time in the same day that I would see her. After leaving our meeting and giving her the money, I drove back to San Clemente lit and betrayed after hearing she never gave us a second thought. Yes. I hated my mother after that meeting and was angry at myself for even going because now the rest of my family was mad at me too. 

After leaving my fateful meeting in Solvang and paying her what she said was rent money, my mother bought drugs and went on a wild drive through Santa Maria right under a bus. 

Although Cindy didn’t come with me to my original meeting, she accompanied me from my home to the hospital after a frantic phone call from our mothers mother saying she was going to die after a tragic accident. I was tired of a full day of driving and still angry at our mom but, her mother warned it would be our last chance to see her again so off we went. 

Our mother didn’t die. Our mother is still alive and blind in one eye with 40% cognitive ability and very little memory. Due to the accident, grandma Tinney set up a trust to keep our mother from blowing the money on more drugs and we both agreed to add all four children as beneficiaries. 

I can promise you that no one else would’ve went to the trouble to “cover” their siblings in our mothers trust except me. 

If my brother had been in my shoes, I seriously doubt that adding Cindy, Tammy or I would have ever occurred to him. 

I did something for my siblings that no one had ever done for me and as usual, my brother wants everything by offering nothing in return.

My reasons for insisting that our financial interests were protected were because I knew that if our mother ever got her hands on the money and blow it on drugs were well founded. She was an addict. CalMed pays all of her medical expenses. 

Explaining to grandma Tinney that no amount of money could replace the years of our lives for blaming ourselves about being abandoned wouldn’t go away with money but, that money might somehow ease the pain. I wanted a payback from my mother and the trust gave me that.

It was a payoff trust that due to our mother long outliving her anticipated death, continues to sit in the bank waiting to be disbursed to her four children. 

I wanted to find a way of taking care of everyone regardless of the circumstances and the trust for our mothers “accident” did that. 

My brother has always claimed to want nothing to do with our mothers family but, when a change of executor filing notice came to his home some 8 years ago, my brother suddenly took an interest in the trust put in place so many years ago by my grandma Tinney and I. 

My brother has never acknowledged that without me going to meet my mother and paying her, the accident wouldn’t have ever happened and, the trust would never exist! 

To challenge the change of beneficiary, my half sister, Tammy found Cindy and I on FB and sent a message Halloween night that asked Cindy and I travel to Lompoc the following week to keep “Nancy’s greedy paws off the trust that we have waited most of our lives to get.” The message from a sister that I hadn’t heard from in years was a warning and, Tammy needed the other heirs at the hearing. 

Horrified at this news of aunt Nancy trying to steal the trust we have waited so long to be disbursed, Cindy and I flew to CA and attended the hearing that our mothers step sister, Nancy had orchestrated to apply for executor of the estate in order to claim that her brain damaged and incompetent sister (our mother) had “changed her mind about leaving everything to her children and decided to leave everything to Nancy.” 

I can’t make this shit up. All of the years of keeping that money locked up were suddenly at risk but, our brother sat in the comfort of his home while Cindy and I paid our own way and hotels to travel to California and protect the trust. We did with our sister Tammy’s help. Tammy hired the probate attorney.

The three of us went up against Aunt Nancy who saw an opportunity to get the trust by becoming an executor and apparently had our mother sign an affidavit (although she is mentally incompetent) trying to transfer any and all assets including our mothers parents home to Nancy. During the years after the accident, Nancy and our mother inherited their parents home. Nancy took a loan against the home and encumbered the property.

We fought tooth and nail to protect the money meant for our mothers children and in the end, thousands of dollars later, did. 

Our brother didn’t chip in on legal fees or expenses, my sisters and I did. Protecting that trust has been an ongoing expense for my entire adult life. Cindy has a quote that better describes the situation, “Just like a blister- showing up when all the work is done!” 

My mother never bothered trying to find my sister, brother and I who were moved away with my father to Oklahoma. From Oklahoma, we moved to Texas. It wasn’t until my first marriage that I moved back to California.

As adults, my sister and I often wondered if our half sister, Tammy who was adopted by our mothers mother or our mother ever wondered about us. But, Tammy is the greatest gift other than our now long deceased grandma Tinney that the search to find my mother blessed me with. We love our sister and the gift of finding her again. 

Tammy’s funny and honest, hard working and driven and hates aunt Nancy as much as we do for attempting to pilfer a trust that has waited all these years to payback my mothers children. 

Last year, I officiated Tammy’s daughters wedding and, our mother was there. It was awkward but okay. She didn’t try to hug us or act as if we were the perfect family for all of the relatives that knew too well the truth of our childhoods. 

Our mother watched as everyone worked so hard to make Kori’s Day perfect. Three sisters who had spent half of their lives being separated finally came together for a Life Event. We finally made it full circle and reunited as adults the relationship we had lost as children through no fault of our own.

Protecting the trust has been an expensive endeavor as our mother was married at the time of the accident and after her first check of $50,000 her husband Jim promptly blew it. Jim was sentenced to Lompoc Prison for his theft and since the trust was insured, the money was returned. 

My brother didn’t care about establishing a relationship with our mother or, even seeing her. He does care about the money but has never admitted that without me, there would be no trust.

My brothers only contact all of these years was a letter he sent to her from the USS O’Bannon disinheritting himself from our mother after learning of my plan to go meet her. At the time of the letter, our mother was penniless. He was angry that I had arranged to meet my mother and determined to give her a piece of his mind. 

What my brother couldn’t have known was that I was paying my mother to meet me and answer questions that I had in exchange for $1500 she needed for “rent money.” Yes. If I hadn’t paid her, I’m certain she would’ve never been in the accident. 

The money I paid my mother to meet me was used to buy drugs and an accident with a Los Angeles Transit Bus and subsequent lawsuit became The Sharon Hill Trust in Santa Barbara Superior Court. 

Yes, my mother who never had two nickels to rub together became wealthy on paper with a trust that left the lawsuit and assets of her parents including their home to her four children. Me, my sister, Tammy and our brother. 

But, let’s not forget that letter from the O’Bannon or the fact that I sent my brother a letter every week and a care package every month to the O’Bannon. He never thanked me for the many letters sent every week or the care packages sent every month. 

I’ve learned that my brother often expects a lot but, rarely considers offering anything in return much less a thank you. It’s somehow an ongoing ordeal with me that saying thank you is just too much for people. 

My blogs are an outlet for the unexpected. From business deals to family, my blogs are a way of venting on occasion and actually a documentary of juggling family drama and four businesses.

No one else in my family besides my sister and I came up with money for my brother to come home on leave years ago either but, my brother has a convenient memory. He often got drunk and arrested home on leave and guess who bailed him out? My sister and I of course. 

Since my brother had taken the time to write a letter disowning himself from our mother in 1989, the trust and subsequently, the inheritance that grandma Tinney and I carefully set up to benefit four children who never had a mother changed everything. 

In his defense, my brother had no idea that our dead broke drug addicted mom would have an accident after reading his letter that left her quite wealthy with a trust. 

Ironically, the letter my brother sent was in our mothers purse at the time of her accident as she had received it a week prior to my scheduled meeting with her. Why she was carrying it around with her led me to believe that she had read it over and over again.

My brother was angry with me for planning to visit her in 1988 and decided to write a letter telling her how much he hated her and me for bothering to find her. I didn’t care. 

Nancy found the letter after the accident and used it in the hearing to try and remove our brother from his inheritance. The letter was filled with rage and hatred.

Suddenly, my brother was interested in the money from a trust that I had helped set up? From a parent he had disowned himself from? Never met and never bothered to call? 

The Judge wanted to know if my sister or I or our brother have spoke to or visited our mother. Hmmm. A relationship with our estranged mother? Yes. Cindy and I could easily prove that we regularly visited and I regularly called our mother because Tammy was often at the visits with us. Our brother? No. 

The truth is that Cindy and I have seen our mother on numerous occasions as well as spoken to her by phone. Yesterday, she asked me to ask my brother call her. 

I was busy working three events on Mother’s Day and sent a text to my brother not knowing his wife would call my sister saying “Jerry was upset and didn’t know he was calling his mother?” Whose mother did he think he was calling? I ruined HIS day

Upset? The text read “if you want to call our mom, she asked me to give you her number.” He’s an adult. He can make his own decisions. I sent him a text asking if he would call her not demanding that he called her. 

Somehow, I’m always the bad guy and our father wanted to let me know how upset our brother was. At this point in my life I could care less what my “family” get upset about. Seriously. They find something to be upset about on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

For some reason, I’ve always tried to keep the peace and make everyone get along. I have no idea why but, I’ve long ago decided to stop caring. Let them figure it out for a change. Let them pick up the phone and put some effort in now and again. Fair is fair.

Having my brother upset at me because he chose to call our mother is childish and stupid but, hey that’s my family. 

I’ve never got a birthday card or Christmas card from my brother although I send him Christmas money every year. This story gets better though and after you read the details of why I’m so mad at how all of my efforts at keeping the peace and saving others has turned out- you may better understand why I’m the one that needs to be angry here and not my brother. 

While living in California my first year of marriage, my brother got himself into trouble on leave in Mexico. My grandmother told me he needed $10k or he would go to prison. Although my dad and grandmother both had good incomes and credit cards, saving my brother was somehow my responsibility? 

Looking back, I knew being pressured into saving Jerry was a guilt trip. My grandmother used guilt to get her way on a regular basis and, she knew that I had brought my twin sister to live with my husband and I as well as both of her children. 

A new marriage with my sister and her kids living with us? Yes. Cindy had nowhere to go and not surprisingly, no one offering to help her or her two children other than me.

I.E. My grandmother and my father both had their own homes and neither of them offered to help my sister. They both knew one year into my marriage that moving my sister and her kids in had put a strain on my marriage. 

They both also knew that they never lifted a finger to help Cindy or I and the only people we have ever been able to trust throughout our lives were each other. And yet, my grandmother moved the burden of my brothers bad choices onto my already strained marriage? 

Parasites. I know all about them because my family is full of them. They will suck your dying breath out of you and then search your pockets.

My grandmother promised if my brother didn’t pay me back that she and my father would. Humph. Knowing my husband would be angry and being forced to choose between my family or my husband, I finally couldn’t take the phone calls anymore and snuck off to Bank Of America with my husbands American Express Card and took out the money before going to Western Union and sending it. Yes. I was sick about it and yes, I knew my husband would find out.

I knew while getting the money, I was making a terrible mistake. Trying to make my family like me often involved great sacrifice and had I gone with my gut back then, I might have been able to save my marriage but, as usual my grandmother and father didn’t give a damn what helping my brother did to my marriage or, my  husbands trust. My husband would forever hate me for being bullied into sending that money without talking to him.

For the next ten years, the fights and eventually, the beatings I took over choosing to save my brother and sending that money effectively, destroyed my marriage. 

Did my grandma or my dad ever pay the money back? No. Never. They only cared about themselves and, my grandmother and father kept their money in the bank while putting my marriage on the rocks and running up huge debt one year into my marriage. It was a Deal Breaker. 

I’ve never forgiven myself for being stupid or my grandmother for lying about covering it if my brother didn’t. My brother was a Navy officer, there was no way he could have ever repaid a debt that involved additional fees for cash advance and even more fees for western union. Sending money isn’t free- there’s a huge fee to send money to family members and, back in the 80’s, it was effectively new and far more expensive.

During my divorce and child custody battle, I begged my brother to pay me something anything to help me financially regarding the $10k plus interest “loan to keep him out of jail” that I had risked my marriage to send him. He never did. My brother screamed at me for calling and asking about relating that money because I was rich? WTF? I was going through a divorce, losing my home and a child custody battle working three jobs and he was upset that 8 years later, I needed him to repay me? 

In fact, when my brothers wife became pregnant, he asked me to send my sons baby furniture to North Carolina. I made him promise to return it as I wanted to give it to my only child one day.

Months later, Michelle lost the baby and I asked to ship my baby furniture back C.O.D. And was told that “Michelle needed a vacation after losing the baby. We sold your baby furniture at a garage sale to take a trip.” 

I couldn’t believe that first no one bothered to ever repay the money and years later, “forgot” that I had not only sent $10k to keep him out of a Mexican prison but also, sold my sons irreplaceable baby furniture that was special ordered hand carved teak from Temecula. 

I’m mad and hurt that my brother told my dad that he couldn’t remember the baby furniture or the money that had ruined my marriage. Really? He forgot facing prison and intricately hand carved cherubs on my sons furniture that my sister had to help me load and carry into the post office and mail? He’s mad I asked him to call our mother? My brother needs to grow up! 

The only thing that my sister in law and brother care about now is when my mom is going to die and..how much money they are going to get. Oh? You mean the money from the trust that I set up? Now, you get the point.

It’s apparent to me that the only time I have any value in my own family is when I’m doing something for else. My brother can’t call our mom but, is upset that “I tricked him?” Give me a break! I’m upset that I ruined my marriage to save my brother and no one ever bothered to pay me back much less acknowledge the great risk I took to my marriage by sending the money in the first place! Then, losing my sons $4k furniture because Michelle needed a vacation? Selling hand crafted artisan furniture at a yard sale? 

My brother was the Golden Child. Why? Because he wasn’t a girl. My grandparents and our father always made sure he had the best of everything. I’m mad about the money and have been for years and years now. I’m mad about my sons furniture and I’m even madder that everyone is so focused on the money in the trust that wouldn’t exist if not for me. 

I’m closer to my twin sister than anyone else in my life because she has always been there for me and would never take advantage of my generosity.

Maybe my brother will never speak to my mother again and maybe I will never get over the fact that she remembers someone who wants nothing to do with her but, I can’t change that. By finding my mother, I found my sister, Tammy and I consider that a gift after so many years of being separated. 

The money? It won’t change the fact that my mother never wanted the four children she had and the accident may have “cured” her of her drug addiction but, at the end of the day, I have mixed feelings about never finding closure or being able to voice my feelings to a mother that would never understand or pretend to not understand since we have no real idea what she remembers or doesn’t. 

My mother never gave me a good memory to cherish but, by not being a mother to me she taught me to become the mother I had never known.

Making a phone call doesn’t seem like that big of a stretch for my brother but, one day he may look back and wish that he had taken the time.

Not everyone will understand my view of continuing to try and make an effort with my mother that continues to dissapoint me but, when she does die I will hand no guilt over not attempting to have a relationship with someone who never had an interest in having a relationship with me. 

My sister will forever blame our childhood on a mother so self involved that caring for her children never entered her mind but, every Mother’s Day for as long as she lives, I will continue to make a futile attempt of being the daughter that I should’ve been even if it leaves me with a hole in my heart.

I had a wonderful visit with my wedding couple on Mother’s Day and am really looking forward to next weeks events. 

My niece is busy with her graduation bookings and my son is staying busy while my other niece is enjoying her new job so, if the only thing ruining Mother’s Day for me was asking my brother to call our mom for once, I can move on and hope he can do because trying to make everyone happy is and always will be a lot of work. 

I will always regret sending that money at a time in my life when I thought I had a bright future with my husband ahead of me who at least didn’t complain when I brought my sister home with me. 

What I should’ve done was throw that monkey right back at my grandmother instead of allowing her to put that monkey on my back to save my brother. But, I was young and dumb and felt obligated to save my younger brother at the time. 

My grandmother was always a manipulator who my brother and father view as a Saint. If you weren’t a girl, she treated you like a king but, we were girls and therefore, only good for what we could do for her. 

My grandmother took advantage of not only me but also my sister and her own daughter because she never really liked girls or women. I found this fact of discriminating against your own relatives based on their gender to be one thing that I’ve never really accepted.

A photo shoot with a beautiful mother and daughter ended my day of client meetings, rehearsals and photo shoots for Mother’s Day and coming home finally after a long day, I was greeted by a husband who not only loves and respects me but can also trust me to never take large amounts of money out of the bank or even out on my card without talking to him first. 

Matthew has never questioned the money I’ve spent helped my twin sister Cindy or her husband Steve or even my son, nieces or grandtwins but, it was my money and when I needed his money, he knew that it was important to me or I wouldn’t have asked. 

My sister appreciates everything we do to help her family but, my brother may never understand why it was important that I made the trust in such a way that he would benefit from a mother he never wanted anything to do with.

I want to show you the beautiful mother and daughter who obviously loved one another very much. I will never have a photo like this of my mother and I but, I’m happy that others do and cherish their mother for the many sacrifices they made for them. My own mother never sacrificed anything but, I didn’t let her lack of mothering instincts define my own…Family….you can’t choose them but, you can damn sure choose to live your life without them in it if they only bring you misery and drama without any of the benefits of love, compassion or appreciation…