Yes, Virginia, there really is a Patty. And she is alive and well and plotting ways to throw a wrench into Ella's holidays. For those readers who are new to my blog, Patty is Sam's older sister. I also refer to her as "The Dreaded One."
Many years ago after her husband (the man was a saint) passed away, Patty moved to the east coast and settled in a small seaside town near some cousins she knew from her childhood. After a few years there, she would moan to us how the cousins seemed to shun her and that she didn't have any close friends. She was also estranged from her only child. We usually invited her for Christmas, and I really started to feel sorry for Patty and how lonely she seemed.
After several years she expressed interest in the retirement communities in our city. Talked about how she thought she didn't want a house any longer and hated cooking for only one person. I even encouraged her to move (Rue the day), and she came to live near us about 5-6 years ago.
At first she was very happy here. She seemed to have made some friends and was invited to play bridge and participate in other activities with several ladies. She went out to lunch and shopping. But within 6 months, this was starting to fall apart. She was asked to leave one card group and other women were not including her in outings. By this time, too, I was beginning to realize how bossy she was toward me. Even rude at times. She was often a major know-it-all with Sam, our boys, and me in particular. She complained constantly about people in her retirement community or the staff or the food.
She ordered about wait staff at restaurants with never a please or thank you. Hell, that's what she did to me as well! Most 4 year olds are more polite. Last year she started yelling at me in public, and I had reached my limit. Even though we do not go out with her any longer, she attends family dinners and celebrations and manages to piss me off on a regular basis. I really do still feel sorry for her, but I now know why the cousins out east and the nice ladies at her facility have washed their hands of her. If she wasn't Sam's sister, I would have told her right off a long time ago.
I honestly do try to be kind, but it is very hard. Sam and I both try to call her every few days so she knows someone cares about her, but many times she does not look at her voicemail. Then she gets an attitude that no one pays her any mind and becomes hateful. She hadn't answered any of our calls over a 5 day period. The message I left on Monday, was to ask her to go for coffee after I finished a pecan pie for the big Thanksgiving dinner. By Wednesday afternoon, when I finally reached her about a time to come on Thursday, she was cool but polite. As we started to end the conversation, she told me not to get anything for dessert, since she had bought (you guessed it) a pecan pie.
I tried to turn it into a funny coincidence, but when she heard I had made a pecan pie, she hung up on me. I was livid and stewed about it all afternoon as I worked on some prep for the following day. By the time Sam walked in the door from work, I was in a "MOOD."
attitude adjustment. While he spanked, he talked about how Thanksgiving should not be spoiled by my temper. He would be with me and would take care of anything his sister could do or say. I was to leave it to him. He decided that for diplomatic purposes, we would have Patty's store bought pie the next day and then he would have my homemade pie all to himself. This did appease me because I know my Sam would much prefer something I baked. The spanking continued until I was simply relaxed and feeling loved.
The stress and anger just melted away, and I felt so much better.
What can I say? It works for me. I had a relaxing and excellent Thanksgiving Day. The SIL only said one nasty thing to me, and although I wanted to say something mean, I did not. Thankfully, she never stays late, so we all enjoyed the rest of the evening. Our kitchen is only separated from the dining room by a big peninsula counter, so we talked and laughed while I boned the turkey.
The other night Sam pulled me onto his lap for a little "talk." It really was just talk, but I could tell from his eyes and voice that it would be more than talk if I didn't listen up. As he has done many times before, Sam told me he is well aware that Patty is an extremely difficult person and that even though she is his sister, he doesn't enjoy her company any more than I do. He does not expect me to love her, but he does expect me to treat her with patience and kindness. That means keeping my temper in check.
Sam intervenes quite often now if Patty starts with her antagonistic remarks and digs. Even in front other family and friends, he will interrupt her to say, "You need to stop, Patty," or "That's enough." Sam does not usually quote scripture, but he set the tone for our Christmas season when he hugged me and said,
"You know how it goes, Ella....
And on earth peace, good will toward Patty."