I debated whether to put this story in "I'm afraid that won't be possible" or "Special Snowflake Stories" because it does deal with a certain SS I used to know, long ago. This is the story of how I stood up to the SS for the first time... and started growing a spine!
At the time of this story--almost 10 years ago--my father was in the final stages of a seven-year battle with cancer. I'd just learned that his cancer had spread from his lungs to his bones and liver, so nothing more could be done except to keep him comfortable. He was already on Oxycontin for the pain. I agreed to travel to Hometown (three hours away from Seattle) one weekend a month to help care for Dad so my stepmom, who'd exhausted all her sick leave, could go back to work... starting with the weekend after Thanksgiving. Since this would be Dad's last Thanksgiving, I'd be spending the holiday with him rather than with Mom.
<BG>This is where SS Ellen comes in. We'd been friends for 9-10 years, if you can call it a friendship. TBH, I idolized and was intimidated by her. She always seemed to know just what to do in social situations. She hosted big parties at her house, went to ballet and the opera, traveled a lot... in short, she seemed to be living the kind of life I thought I should be living. There was very little I wouldn't do for her. I gladly fed and loved her cats while she was off on one of her long trips. I helped her move. I called in sick to work when she needed me to come with her to a city in a neighboring state to drop off some artwork at a gallery for her daughter, because she had carpal tunnel and couldn't do any of the heavy lifting herself. I provided free babysitting at several of her parties at her insistence, even though I'm not particularly good with small children. You get the picture.</BG>
What made me realize Ellen WAS an SS, and I needed to start saying no to her increasingly unreasonable demands, was her asking me to cat-sit for her that Thanksgiving weekend. She knew perfectly well my Dad was dying. As far as I'm concerned, it was fine for her to ask me to cat-sit. Once. Normally, I would have loved it; she really did have great cats
But if ever there was a time she needed to take no for an answer, this was it.
"I'm sorry, not this time," I said. "You know normally I'd love to, but this will be Dad's last Thanksgiving, and I've already promised to spend it with him."
A real friend would have understood, would have realized I had a MORE than valid reason for saying no just this once. But SS Ellen "hoped I'd reconsider" because it was going to be sooooooooooooo hard to find someone else.
"Sorry Ellen, this time you don't have a choice. You'll have to find someone else. My Dad comes first.""Why can't you spend another holiday with him and help me out?"
"My Father. Is. Terminally Ill. He. Is. Dying. He may not have any other holidays. He wants me there for him this Thanksgiving and that's where I'm going to be."
There was a Sigh of Deep Disappointment from SS Ellen and some PA grumbling about how hard it would be to find another cat-sitter so close to the holiday. No sorrow for me, even though I was losing someone I loved and cherished, and who loved and cherished me. No, this whole cat-sitting thing was all about HER and the inconvenience my absence from Seattle would cause HER.
I don't regret responding the way I did. I do regret that it took losing someone who truly did care about me, for me to see SS Ellen didn't.