My Family Tree: Con Sister

I have a half sister.

No one has ever really met her. My daughters think of her as a mythological beast; my husband has never seen her face.

My sister was only nice to me once in my whole life. She visited my father one summer when I was 8 and took me to mall to pick out a birthday gift for myself. I picked out a pen bracelet that was cream and covered with tiny little red hearts. I loved that bracelet. I slept with it; wrote everything I could with it and told everyone my big sister bought it for me. My big sister took me shopping at mall.  I had a big sister with beautiful hair and cool clothes and a boyfriend.  The hearts wore off the bracelet from my constant use and adoration.

I always wanted my big sister to love me. That pen was the symbol of a dream coming true.

Then I found out she paid for it with money she stole from my mother's purse.

That was the day I decided I did not have a big sister. My father simply had another child.

Beth Ann is a con artist and a thief and a flimflam artist and a vile, dishonest human being. Stealing from her step mother's handbag to con her baby sister into believing she loved her is her standard con.  She is good at it--the ultimate sales woman.

I never called her to tell her our father had died. I dutifully took down the last known number we had for her; knowing all along I would not call her. Her legend and her shadow kept an entire branch of my strange half-family away from my father's funeral service.

So I decided they were no longer my family anymore either. They were simply family that once existed in my father's life.

Shadows, really.

Last week, Beth Ann resurfaced. A man called to say he had been feeding her and had spent a lot of money on her. These calls have happened my entire life--sometimes it is a "minister" calling to tell my father to help her. Other times it is her new "husband." None of these people are real, they are simply people that Beth Ann willed to exist. The minister, well, he was definitely a man she met at a truck stop. And her husband, was a man she picked up at a bar.

The man this week, well, she most likely stole from a church to con him into believing she was a poor, broken woman with just pennies to spare.

When people ask me, are you an only child? Or if they knew me a little more: is it just you and your brother? I just want to say, "yes!" But my 8-year old self always wants the truth to be a little different and before I know it, I am telling a joke about my sister being a con-artist as if I am on some funny dramedy on cable about a quirky dysfunctional family. As if I had memories of hair braiding and stealing her diary and shopping at the mall and fighting and laughing.

I have none of those; try as I may to con myself into believing those memories exist. I simply have an old broken, pen bracelet that has run out of ink with the hearts worn off, from too much wishing.


  1. This is heartbreaking but beautifully written, Trish. It hurts to have people in our lives that we want so much to love, all the while knowing that we will only suffer for it. xo


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