Background: I am the Family Spy. My family is sort of spread out and not that good at communicating. There's my Dad, my Stepmom, my stepbrother Jack, my stepsister Mia, my sister Grace, and me. Jack and Mia have spouses and kids, Grace and I do not. Grace lives about 600 miles away from our parents, Jack lives about 300 miles away, I live about 80 miles away, and Mia lives about 20 miles away. For the last 10 years (since I was 16), I have been in charge of finding out what everybody wanted for Christmas and birthdays, cooking the holiday meals for all holidays, and wrapping all the presents for gift-giving occasions. Since I got my driver's license at 18, I've also been responsible for shopping for presents. My Dad does not have the best memory for likes and dislikes, and that's why he passed the job to me, because none of my siblings can be persuaded to give a list, and they often end up getting things they already have, do not like at all, or have absolutely no use for when Dad does the shopping. I am the child that visits the most often, Grace and Mia are the ones that visit the least. /End this part of Background.
Today I met Mia, her husband, and her kids to give them their Christmas presents from me and from "the parents" (picked out on my big shopping trip and wrapped by me, but paid for by the parents). They were all delighted, and while the kids settled down comfortably to look through their new books and play with their new toys, Mia and I got to talking. Mia asked how Dad had known to get all the presents that they wanted, and I told her that I had remembered the conversation that we had had the last time I was visiting about what the kids liked, what she liked, what her husband liked, and what their storage limits were, and that's how I was able to figure out good gifts to give. We then had the following conversation:
Mia: You're still driving all the way up from your house just to do the cooking and the shopping and the cleaning and the wrapping? That must be so tough.
Me: Well... yeah... it can be.
Mia: I'm getting worried about our parents. John (her husband) just found out that his grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, and no one noticed for a long time because they only saw her on holidays.
Me: Well, I keep up with Dad really well - we talk at least once a week, and I drive up every other month or so.
Mia: But I'm still worried that we're not doing enough for them.
Now... I was waiting for her to say something about her going to visit the parents, or call the parents. She hasn't visited since last Thanksgiving - Dad owns a particularly stupid large dog, and my nephew Mark accidentally teased the dog (he put the dog's food down in the wrong place, then when John pointed it out, picked the food up and turned around - the dog snapped, bit my nephew, and then panicked when he realized he had hurt his friend. The dog spent the next two days cowering and whining, and was re-trained heavily, because he had never shown food aggression before). Mark is not afraid of the dog at all - I mentioned that the dog had eaten the ornaments I bought them last year, and Mark giggled and smiled and then showed off his scar. But Mia doesn't organize visits away from the parents house either, since she's afraid of the dog now. She doesn't answer the phone when they call or call them back.
Grace, besides living 600 miles away, is mentally ill, and while she leads a fairly normal life, she is more likely to contact people when things are going wrong and she is hurting. She is also in grad school, and working hard to get out with as little debt and as high grades as possible, so she has a very hard and hectic life right now. She has thanked me for being close to Dad and being there for him while she can't be.
Jack calls semi-regularly, and tries to organize Skype chats at least every other month so the parents can see how the kids are growing. He tries bring his wife and kids up to visit at least a few times a year, and invites the parents down several times a year. He has a busy, hectic life (his wife is finishing up her Post-doctorate work and looking for Professorships and they have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old), but he takes as much time as he can for our parents... though he doesn't give me a wish list either, so I have to spy on him too and make notes on what everyone is interested in.
So... it comes back to Mia. It sounded like she was hinting strongly that someone needs to do more, but I can't see that it's me. I do call once a week and do come up every other month to visit and cook and help with things. I cook every holiday meal, and do what chores I can to be helpful. I keep tabs on all my siblings, and keep abreast of all family gossip so that if anyone is having an issue with anyone else, I can usually smooth it out before it becomes too big by playing peacemaker and relaying messages that everyone else is too stubborn to say, or that they don't think is important (but is usually the linchpin of the entire misunderstanding). The only way I could be more dutiful would be if I stopped my own life and moved in to become the personal family secretary. Sometimes I feel taken advantage of, but I know if I didn't play this role, the family would just sort of drift apart, and Dad would be lonely.
How can I ask Mia whether she meant that she should do more, or if she was hinting that I should somehow do even more than I already do? If she does not want to come to the parent's house because of the dog, she can ask them to meet her somewhere else on non-holidays, since Dad loves the kids and has been missing them a lot. Or maybe if she was hinting that Jack or Grace should do more? If she has a new concern over the parent's health, then isn't it better to check it out herself than to just take my word for it? Or should I just be blunt and say that I am stretched a little thin, and I would love some help from a sibling close enough to make a difference to my crazy holiday workload?