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Stealing Sister?

(12 Posts)
icanhandthemback Tue 15-Dec-20 11:06:56

A few years ago I became estranged from one of my sisters after she did something against one of my children which was, quite frankly, unforgivable. I was devastated as I had been more of a mother than a sister to her and it is one of the few times I found myself on my knees sobbing at my loss.
I made it clear to the rest of the family that I didn't expect them to take sides and I would always behave civilly to her at family events so there would be no discomfort for others. However, it caused great fallout within the family, eventually becoming between her and her children because they were horrified by her behaviour and there were other issues about her rewriting history on a grandiose basis.
Recently we have had to have more of a connection because my mother is slipping into dementia. I have her Power of Attorneys but I feel that my sister should be included in decisions because it is her mother too. My sister's estrangement from her children had left her very alone and I did feel sorry for her too so I started to thaw towards her. She is a very witty, entertaining person at times so it was quite easy to let down my guard.
Recently we were both at my mother's and started sorting through some stuff because there were obviously rodents present. I was hooking stuff out from a corner and passing them to my sister to sort. At one point I handed her a handwritten journal with some exquisite picture drawn which belonged to my great, great grandfather. My sister was looking at it and I was just going to make a remark about it's sentimental value but when she saw me looking, she put it down. As I turned away, I saw her grab it up and put it in her bag. I immediately asked her what she was doing and she said she was going to take it home to photocopy. I waited until she went out of the room and then asked my Mum what she wanted to do about it but my Mum was having a confused moment. When my sister came back I just said she must make sure she return it.
Now I can't stop thinking about it. It makes me nervous that she is going into my Mum's house when I'm not there and I wonder what else she is sneaking out. I don't know what to do. Do I tackle her? She tends to explode and I don't want to cause a new family rift but I am astonished that she would do this. Why on earth if she just wanted to photocopy it, didn't she ask? My Mum wouldn't have minded at all.
Can I have some advice please, wise Grandparents?

timetogo2016 Tue 15-Dec-20 11:13:43

Leopards don`t change their spots i`m afraid.
My sister stole loads of things out of my dads house,money/jewelry/anything worth money.
Iv`e not spoken to her from that day to this and don`t intend to either.
All your sister had todo was ask.

Kamiso Tue 15-Dec-20 11:14:52

Change the locks and don’t let her have a key.

When my dad and stepmother died it was unbelievable how many things had been “promised” to siblings and step siblings.

Mamardoit Tue 15-Dec-20 11:28:19

This happens unfortunately.

My grandmother stuck name labels on almost everything. She intended that all the grandchildren would get something from her home. My uncle emptied the house in the week before her funeral and took everything. Fortunately she had already given away her jewelry to us girls.

cornishpatsy Tue 15-Dec-20 12:03:45

You say "my mum" she is your sisters mum too.

As you say your mother was having a confused moment at the time it would not have been appropriate to ask her about the journal.

You could ask your sister if she has finished copying the journal if you want it to go back to your mothers if it is a concern to you.

You have said you feel your sister should be included in the decision making but did not like her deciding to copy the journal which was an unimportant decision. I think you would fall out again if she disagreed with you over important points.

Lolo81 Tue 15-Dec-20 13:56:14

What do you envisage happening with the diary ultimately?
You either trust your sister or you don’t. If you don’t then there will be conflict.
All I’d advise is that if there are things of sentimental value in your mothers home, it may be time to take stock of what’s there and in some cases put somewhere safe or remove from the house. Not just because of you distrust of your sister, but more in case your mum either mislays/destroys or throws stuff out. My maternal gran destroyed a lot of the things that had been promised to us (nothing valuable, more sentimental like books, pictures etc) by her late husband. It was because of her dementia, she’d empty drawers and cabinets , put things in plastic bags and flush things down the toilet. We lost a lot of irreplaceable items because my gran was good at putting up a front and it took a while to recognise how badly the disease was affecting her.
If things do go wandering at your mums it would be a shame to blame your sister which may be your initial reaction.
I wish you all the strength in the world, dementia is a dreadful condition, stay strong and take care.

Smileless2012 Tue 15-Dec-20 16:08:22

I would wait a few days icanhandthemback and then ask if she's finished photocopying the journal as your mum wants it back. Keep asking until it's been returned.

There's no reason why you can't talk to your sister about any future decisions regarding your mum but as you're the one with PA the legal responsibility is yours.

For your own peace of mind it's worth considering the distinct possibility that your mum doesn't trust her either, which is why she didn't give you joint PA.

BlueBelle Tue 15-Dec-20 16:50:48

You ve given this the title of stealing sister but at the moment she hasnt stolen it, has she? She might do so but at the moment she has told you she’s borrowing it to copy it I would keep her to that and as Smileless says ask for it back she may make excuses but just keep asking.
Do you know what is in the journal that would interest her?
I do think her past bad behaviour has made you really jumpy about all her moves now but if you are going to do this together, and you were big hearted enough to include her, then there has to be some trust too, unless it gets broken again Maybe you’re right and for some reason she’s trying to nick it but maybe she does just want to copy some of it which is perhaps the most likely unless you think it has more than sentimental value to it
Where will these personal treasures go when you mum becomes completely unable to make decisions ?

silverlining48 Tue 15-Dec-20 17:36:09

The post mentions one of ‘my sisters’ , so wondering what the other family members think. Are you the only person with PoA?
I would ask her about the journal and do understand how hard it is as I had/ have the same situation with a sibling, and we are no longer in contact.

icanhandthemback Wed 16-Dec-20 23:00:43

BlueBelle, I did put a question mark next to my title because as you say, she hasn't actually stolen it. However, the fact that she waited until my back was turned to "sneak" it into her bag rather shook me. The diary is probably quite valuable too as it is actually written by a published travel writer whose work is still sought by collectors.
Lolo81, she is entirely welcome to the diary when my Mum has died and more or less anything else unless they have already been promised to others. Everybody has had the chance to ask for the things they were particularly fond of as my Mother was keen to know that someone wanted her stuff. She almost gets offended if we say we don't want her things!
Although I spend a lot of time mentally rolling my eyes at my sister's exaggerations and white lies, I did think she was fundamentally honest and now I am less sure. It was only the fact that she didn't ask my Mum who was sitting there but 'snuck' it into her bag without even a by your leave. If not dishonest, I think it is disrespectful to our mother as these sort of things are very precious to her. I don't expect her to ask me at this stage because they aren't my things.
silverlining48, I have another sibling but not born to my mother. I am loathe to talk to my half-sister about it because she has already taken a step backwards from my full sister because she finds her too much of a drama queen and, like me, prefers less confrontation. I am the only POA unless I find it too much when I can hand over to my children to act jointly.
I did talk to my mother about what had happened in one of her more lucid moments and she is thinking of changing the door key. She was also cross that she didn't ask. She wants me to get her Will sorted so I have complete authority to sort it all out (if there is a problem) when she finally dies. She has just had the relevant tests to determine capacity so it seems timely.
I also spoke to her partner (their assets have been completely separate, including houses) and he is going to be more vigilant too. He was less surprised than I thought he would be.
cornishpatsy, she is my sister's Mum too and I have no wish to "claim" her in totality! My sister and I often call her "your Mum" to each other as a bit of a joke. However, I am her main carer, make all her financial decisions, run her admin, help her with just about everything. My sister moved away a long time and usually visits infrequently. It is only her estrangement from her children that has meant she is visiting more frequently because she is obviously very lonely. Our mother had been perfectly lucid with us up to the point when my sister left the room but she was finding it difficult to understand what I was saying as it was a complete change of conversation and she didn't know what diary I was talking about...there are several from different people and on different subjects.
I don't want my sister to feel left out where Mum is concerned, I really don't although she doesn't always make it easy but for the time being I will try including her in any decisions. Hopefully this is a one off incident which will never repeat itself.

Hetty58 Wed 16-Dec-20 23:23:43

I don't think that this has much to do with the journal - or 'things' in general. Material stuff has little importance to her mother.

icanhandthemback obviously doesn't trust her sister and probably regrets having her back in her life.

She logically believes that it's only right to include her sister in her mother's life - yet has trouble with sharing responsibility and/or losing control of events.

icanhandthemback Fri 18-Dec-20 12:54:24

Hetty58, I am afraid you have the material stuff bit wrong. Mum cares very much about her material stuff...she lives in a state of chaos where she cares so much about it!
I agree with you, it is absolutely not about the journal which I really don't care about, not least because it isn't mine to care about. I care that my sister could take something from Mum without asking and do it in such an underhand fashion. That shocks me. It rings alarm bells.
It was certainly easier without my sister in my life on a personal level but she has always remained in my Mum's life which is as it should be. However, a lot of my issues about my sister (even before she hurt my daughter) were more about her rewriting history to make her the victim at every step of her childhood, young adulthood, etc. She never has a migraine, it is always a suspected brain tumour, a sore throat becomes suspected diphtheria. It became an extreme problem when I was continually being called, would drop everything because she had turned yellow, travel 70 miles to see her, just to find she was looking prettily pink. I haven't missed that at all over the last 6 years!
I don't have any problem at all sharing responsibility but the increased drama that results from handing over any of Mum's care does make it hard. As to the admin, I've been doing Mum's admin since I was a child, not because I wanted to but because it was necessary at times. Any efforts to step back have met with resistance from Mum and my sister. The latter has actively shunned that side of things and I don't really blame her. Whilst Mum had all her faculties, I just followed instructions. Nowadays, I have to make decisions on her behalf and I include my sister for 2 reasons. Firstly to spare my sister's feelings because, although she walked away from the responsibilities, she feels excluded now she is on her own. Secondly, to cover me from any accusations that I have spent money I shouldn't have, coerced Mum in any way, etc. I have talked Mum out of excluding my sister from her Will, encouraged her to treat her children the same as mine (Mum has been very generous in the past) and generally tried to be scrupulously fair on my sister's behalf, even after we were estranged.
I am not trying to make myself out to be a saint but I was brought up to treat others how you want to be treated yourself at a religious school and I do try to. I don't always get it right but I try hard. As for losing control, I'm not known as a control freak but I am known for being honest and it is always a big problem to me when I see honesty issues.
If Mum hadn't been bothered by this when we discussed it, I would have shrugged my shoulders and forgotten it but she is perplexed too. She sees why my sister would be interested in such an artefact but is worried that she should take her things without asking. It was her suggestion that she should change the locks, not mine. Personally, I can't see the point unless you are going to ban entry to the house and there is no question of that.
I do wonder if my sister is worried about the disappearance of stuff though. When my Mum was in hospital, she searched the house for the 'family' photos and couldn't find them because she wanted to make copies. She was very concerned that she couldn't find them. Perhaps she thinks that if she can't find them, she'll not be able to find the diaries when Mum dies.