by Olivia Greyson from THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.
Relatives… Can’t live with them; can’t bump them off. Well, you can, of course, but more of them will show up, so it hardly seems worth the effort. Plus there’s the prison sentence… There, I’ve vented, and I’m beginning to feel better. All I need now is a fresh cup of coffee, lots of cream and sugar, and a lemon cutout cookie shaped like a maple leaf, decorated with red and gold royal icing.
Much better. Back to relatives… I’ve just met a new one I didn’t know I had. She likes to be called Cal. She can be a bit blunt, but… Well, you’ll meet her one of these days, so I won’t go into details just yet. Suffice it to say, she takes some getting used to, but I’d have to say that she is growing on me.
Technically, Cal is a relative by marriage—my mother’s marriage to my stepfather. She is currently living with my Mom and Allan, and this is not going well. Cal is driving my mother crazy. And that is driving me crazy. My mom (Ellie) is normally calm and above it all. Total strangers tell her their problems, and she listens as if from an ethereal dimension. She always seems centered… although she does take more yoga classes than most humans could tolerate.
But now Mom is a walking train wreck. She is jittery, jumpy, and doubling up on her yoga. She’s like a totally different person. Even I, in my terrible teens, could not get under Mom’s skin the way Cal can. If I were still a teenager, I would ask Cal to tutor me in the art of irritating my mother. However, I’m an adult, and I want my mom to be her sunny, unflappable self again. Only I don’t know how to help.
Here’s how I’ve tried to smooth the waters so far: I offer Mom cookies and coffee, and I listen to her complaints and frustrations with minimal interruption. No matter how many times I have to bite my tongue. That makes Mom feel better until the next time Cal says or does something that sends her into a tailspin. I’ve also tried giving advice. That doesn’t work so well. I even tried talking to Cal, but she just looked at me as if I were speaking Martian.
Sigh. Chatterley Heights is a small town. Avoiding my family forever is not an option. Has anyone dealt successfully with a situation like this? Should I just accept it and buy antacids in bulk?
Thanks for listening.
I need a cookie.
The fifth book in the COOKIE CUTTER SHOP series, COOKIES AND SCREAM, is awaiting editing and a 2014 publication date! Meanwhile, visit Virginia Lowell at www.virginialowell.com