My mother had a clear favorite her entire life, while I was raised by my grandparents mostly. When she got old and sick, I helped financially but refused to do more than that for a crucial reason.
While most good parents would tell you that they don’t have a favorite, my mother was not ashamed to tell me that my brother, Stanley, was her golden boy. My father walked out of our family because caring for two children became too much.
In the end, my mother blamed me for it. “He wouldn’t have left if I hadn’t gotten pregnant with you,” she told me one day. I was just a child at the time and only wanted my mother’s love.
But that’s not my fault,” I replied. “I didn’t ask to be born.”
“Don’t talk back to me! I’m the parent, and you’re the kid, so shut up,” she finished. We would have similar conversations through the years whenever she was mad at me. Finally, my mother sent me to live with my paternal grandparents.
They felt so bad that our father had walked away from our lives that they took me in and gave me all the love I never received at home. That’s how I learned that the word family has lots of meanings.
All I heard about my mother and brother over the years was that she helped him with everything. He got into some trouble with the police, and my mother paid all his legal fees. Eventually, she had to sell her house and pay for his apartment.
Stanley was spoiled and couldn’t hold down a job, but my mother coddled him. Meanwhile, my grandparents didn’t have much money, but they gave me everything they could. I had to work to afford my college and my home.
I learned a whole ton of responsibility, and when I graduated, I got a pretty decent job. That’s where I met my husband, Lawrence. We had two daughters whom I cherished equally. When my grandparents got sick, I was there for them until the very end.
They gave me their house, and one of my daughters moved there when she got married. Unfortunately, my husband died shortly after her wedding. She asked me to live with her, but I wanted to stay in our home.
I didn’t hear from my brother or my mother for many years. They didn’t care about me at all, so why should I care about them? But one day, Stanley called. “Hello?” I answered the phone.
“Hey, Brooke. It’s Stanley. How are you?” my brother said through the other line.
“Oh, hey, Stanley. Long time, no speak. I’m fine. How about you?” I replied.
“Yeah, it’s been a while. Listen, I’m calling because Mom broke her hip. I need your help,” Stanley continued.
“Oh, that’s too bad. Is she ok?” I asked.
“She’s fine. It’s just that the hospital bill will be pretty expensive, and I need help paying for it. She’s our mother after all,” he explained
“Oh, well. Ok. Give me the details, and I’ll send some money,” I told him. My husband and I had accumulated decent savings, so I could afford to send Stanley some money for whatever our mother needed.
“That’s great, Brooke. Thank you. I’ll talk to you later,” Stanley said and hung up. I didn’t feel any obligation to my mother, but I wasn’t heartless. I sent him the money and forgot about it until a week later when my brother called again.
“Hey, Brooke!” Stanley started.
Hey. How did everything go?” I asked.
“The operation for her hip went well, but the doctor just told me she’s going to need tons of rehab and round-the-clock care. I was wondering when you could come to pick her up?” my brother asked.
“What do you mean pick her up?” I probed, confused.
“I told you. She needs someone to take care of her. I’ve been by her side our whole lives. It’s time you take responsibility, Brooke. I can’t watch her,” Stanley added.
“Excuse me? Responsibility? Mom sent me to live with our grandparents because she hated me, and you were her golden boy. She essentially abandoned me,” I snapped.
“Please. Stop the melodrama. You need to step up because she needs you. She gave you life. You owe her,” Stanley demanded.
No. I don’t owe her anything. I needed my mother when I was growing up, and she refused. She gave all her love to you, so you will need to figure out something. I gave you money for her hospital bills out of the goodness of my heart, but I won’t be her caretaker,” I told him.
“YOU’RE HORRIBLE, BROOKE! HOW CAN YOU DO THIS? I CAN’T WATCH HER!” Stanley started screaming through the phone.
“Honestly, I don’t care, Stanley. You don’t get to call me horrible. I was a kid when she abandoned me, and my grandparents became my REAL PARENTS. Don’t call me again!” I finished and hung up the call.