It isn't long before a second email arrives from her... "Your younger sister says she has it already covered, and doesn't feel there's a need for more than one arrangement."
"Ok," I respond, "whatever works for her is fine with me."
A day later an email arrives from my older sister, cc'ing her response to dad's girlfriend that she'd like to chip in, and asking what my thought are on it. I write her back, telling her it seems that little sister has the situation under control and I think it's best to leave it that way (a subtle way of saying that I am bowing out of the issue.)
Today a follow-up email comes from dad's girlfriend. It says she went to the cemetery yesterday and a Memorial Day arrangement is already in place, presumably the one placed there by my younger sister. Ok then, that covers it.
Any of you who've been reading hear for some time, will remember an earlier incident, not too many months after my father's passing three years ago, in which who would be doing cemetery decorations when and paid for how became an issue of contest. Then a year or so ago there was a similar showdown over the purchase of a tree for cemetery landscaping project. We all chipped in on that, but my older and younger sister sparred of which kind of tree was to be selected from the list. I bowed out on that one too, saying that I'd be happy with whichever tree was chosen.
Similar scenarios between me and my two sisters have played out for all of our lives (and we are now all over the age of fifty). Everything has to be a contest of wills, someone must be right and someone wrong, someone has to win and someone has to loose - compromise is out of the question.
In years past I was often drawn into such frays, being the middle-child I became the center-point in the tug of war; to win me over to your side was to have the advantage. In recent years, I've learned the folly of allowing myself to take sides and be sucked into the game. Whatever they decide is fine with me. I may have an opinion or a preference, but I'm not about to state it if it means that one will feel victorious over the other and yet another contest of wills, and volley of nasty email exchanges will commence.
I've learned that, in the big picture of life, who buys the flowers, or which tree is planted on the hill is incredibly unimportant. I am happy that it gets done; how they work it out is up to them to decide. Most often it's easiest to let my little sister have her way, she is the most emotional of us three, and the most likely to ramp up the level of drama. My older sister can also be quite stubborn and set on having it her way, and is prone to unpredictable outbursts. Almost always the issues at contest are as petty as who buys the flowers for dad's grave this year or who didn't handle something right twenty years ago!
I close the last email, then shake my head sadly. I'm sure mom and dad are doing the same in Heaven. Some things never change. Is it any wonder that it is so hard to bring peace to the world, when three sisters can't find a way to collaborate on flowers? Sometimes I'm ashamed to admit I'm related... and they wonder why I keep my emotional distance and have chosen for all these years to live so far away from home. They can be in charge of flowers, I will honor my father with memories of my own.