COLUMN: Silent treatment strikes again

The second week of December will always be the toughest of times for every remaining member of our family.

The second week of December will always be the toughest of times for every remaining member of our family.

My mother surrendered to her battle with cancer on Dec. 10, 1973, bravely hanging on until the day after my father’s birthday. Dec. 8 marks the 10th anniversary of the death of my brother Max, who died from the same disease.

My sister Sue will celebrate the birthday of her youngest son, born on the same date our mother died, a cruel twist of the calendar that must make the day a mix of celebration tempered by painful reminders.

I can’t comprehend how Sue handles it; I have never asked and she has never offered to share because we deal with grief in our own ways.

Sue and I were born a mere 15 months apart. Although I am technically older, she has become the big sister to all of us since our mother passed away, the cable that somehow keeps the fabric of our family stitched together.

Mom used to embarrass us with stories from our childhood when we were home alone with her before the births of our younger brothers. Mom used to say Sue and I were either talking about marrying each other or trying to scratch each other’s eyes out, rarely treading anywhere near the middle.

Throughout the highs and lows of our relationship, my sister has remained the rock I could always lean on, even in the darkest days of my drug abuse while my marriage crumbled beneath my clumsy feet.

We still argue from time to time, but get back to common ground because of her patience and her ability to handle my outbursts, even on the rare occasions when I might be right.

I write this now because once we put that difficult week in December behind us, the holiday season will be upon us.

I had originally decided to skip Christmas dinner with the family this year so Joan and I could cook a turkey at home with my son for a change. My sister accepted my decision to be the black sheep once again missing from this year’s table without any discernible transfer of guilt.

Sue and her husband are dealing with serious health issues at this time, although you couldn’t tell by talking to either of them.

Somehow, she silently managed to help me change change my mind.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized you don’t get to choose what Christmas will be the last that everyone gets together.

I remembered my older brother Gerry once joking that it’s not officially a family reunion until Sue cries, and that helped spur my change of heart.

So merry Christmas, sis, and  consider this an early version of the card you get every year only because the bride always remembers to send it.

•••

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired journalist and Sooke resident.

 

 

 

Just Posted

VicPD investigates stabbing near Selkirk Montessori school

Victim in potentially life-threatening condition

Federal candidates react to Trudeau blackface controversy

‘It does look like a foolish mistake,’ says Green candidate David Merner

Realtor pitches Langford’s third retail cannabis store

Local business owner Ron Cheeke prepares to open Honeycomb Cannabis

Cougar sighting reported near two Sooke schools

Sighting near Ecole Poirier Elementary and Journey Middle School

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Island contestant competes on Great Canadian Baking Show

Andrea Nauta auditioned for the show before but was lucky second time around

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

LETTER: It’s an accident waiting to happen

I am very happy Tim Hortons restaurant is now in Sooke, but… Continue reading

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Most Read