Magnolias At Dusk

There are days when magnolia blossoms feel like offerings, hands pitched in prayer. The petals are smooth as expensive leather, not out of place at all as the material needed for a Parisian lady’s handbag.

Vintage pink. Classy. Not too bright. As if flecked ever-so-subtly with the tiniest shades of grey.

There is comfort to be had in such blossoms.

My sister, from whom I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster ride with for the past few years calling me at 3AM, saying:’I’m struggling. Please come” and me getting in the car when the streets are purple black and driving to her without hesitation. It feels good to have her turn to me, it feels good to know I can do something to help because for so long the most meaningful discourse we have had has been akin to strangers at the bus stop discussing the weather.

Her husband – the dirty rat – in jail but still able to rattle her as if he is some kind of mob boss. Hiring a dirty huckster criminal lawyer to hit her with a barrage of bogus charges. They renovated their house during their marriage. Spent over two hundred thousand dollars on new kitchens and bathrooms with toilets that flushed automatically. Now he wants the money back saying she coerced him into renovating. Her personality also made him drink to excess and caused him to abuse her. He says he is an alcoholic because of her. I don’t take the charges seriously. They are so ludicrous I cannot even believe that someone with an actual law degree would consider them legitimate.

But I see my sister’s face, pinched and worried and know the fact that she is taking them seriously is enough of a reason to say nothing. Is enough of a reason to be there.

The lawyer has been calling my sister, harassing her, telling her she will go to jail too if she doesn’t pay back the renovating money. She calls at 8AM, ranting. My sister crumples, cries like she did when she was a little girl, covering her face with her hands. I am distraught. I am angry. I ring the lawyer back and tell her if she calls again I am calling the police. That she is a charlatan. I call the Law Society and report her. They already have ten complaints against her. She doesn’t call back, hasn’t called back.

I make French toast. My sister eats it all. She seems better. As she dabs at the corner of her mouth with a crinkled serviette I am reminded exactly of why I love her.

We walk. All day. Looking at clouds. Listening to birds. Smiling at children on red tricycles. It is calming and healing.

At every corner we see a magnolia tree in blossom. It is as if George and Ira Gershwin have written a song about every garden in the street. We find a tree with enormous blossoms in deep, soothing pink. It is a luxurious sight. We sit on the kerb, watching as the dusk tinges the blossoms blue. It is like seeing the curtain close at the end of a symphony.

We are drawn from the stark edge of day to the hush of evening. The magnolia blossoms lean close to one another…as do we. Untroubled, savouring the shadows, together.

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36 thoughts on “Magnolias At Dusk

  1. You’ve done exactly the right thing …. don’t know what they call it over there, but here, it’s called ‘demanding money with menaces’ and is a criminal offence. As is posing as a lawyer … nearly as bad as pretending to be a police officer. (There are strict limits, too, to what a ‘paralegal’ can do)

    I’m not a lawyer … I don’t even play one on TV … but, I’d say that the case wouldn’t get past the dimmest magistrate.

    Know what you mean about the magnolias … there used to be one in a pub garden I used to walk past regularly. Sadly, it had to go, because it started to shed branches, to the real detriment of public safety. They did plant another, but well away from the street, and you really have to stretch to see it. (or, go into the pub, which is really no imposition! :D)

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    1. I can’t believe the depths some people sink to, Travelrat. It’s shocking. My brother-in-law has done so much damage already that I would have thought he would just call it quits now, but some people just can’t let things go.

      Sorry to hear that magnolia had to go but yes, they can get messy. I love them though – it always makes me smile to see one!

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  2. A story written within the beauty of your surroundings a stark contrast to the sinister character wielding his bastardry from behind bars- that he will one day come from behind! Crazy people are scary.

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    1. Oh yeah. They really are. Thank goodness the magnolias were there to cheer me up. I will be so glad when all this nonsense with my brother-in-law is over. It’s too much. Thanks for stopping by, Stafford!

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  3. Good for you Selma! Don’t let the craziness get to your sister. It’s so nice to see that she will turn to the one person she knows will help her. She sounds alot like my sister in the “cover her eyes and cry as she did as a child” and the way your relationship has been like two strangers discussing the weather.. I only wish my sis had had enough faith in me and herself to turn to me when she needed help.

    I’m glad you’re there for her.

    We have magnolia trees here though I think they may be a lighter pink than yours. It’s still nice to see the trees blooming such a happy colour in the springtime after a long grey winter

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    1. One of the good things to come out of this horrible year I’ve been having, Cathy, is that it has reconciled me with my family. When I think of how tense it was between us at the beginning of the year the change seems like a miracle. I am so grateful for it. It is such a relief. I hope that one day your sister reaches out to you the way mine has.

      The colour of the magnolias is a happy one. Always cheer me up!

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  4. What a beautiful turn of events, Sel. Even if the journey as a whole has been heartwrenching and humbling. That’s the thing about exposing our vulnerabilities, asking for help, miraculous developments generally follow. Your sister’s miracle is you, Sel.

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    1. You are so right about how asking for help seems to release something, Steph. It has been an incredible lesson for me. I am so thankful for it. You are so kind to say that about my sister’s miracle. I am humbled. So great to hear from you!

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  5. “He says he is an alcoholic because of her. I don’t take the charges seriously. They are so ludicrous I cannot even believe that someone with an actual law degree would consider them legitimate.”

    Um… I sure HOPE no one takes him seriously. Good lord.

    And I’m so sorry your sister is hurting and going through this whole ordeal. She must be absolutely exhausted.

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    1. It’s been an insane experience, Meleah. Some people (like my brother-in-law) are just unable to take responsibility for their own actions. We are all pretty exhausted. But things are looking up!!

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  6. This is so beautifully written, Selma. You are such a good sister. You are a blessing to your sister, I know. To add my bit of “expertise” (I don’t play a lawyer on TV either, but I did get my legal education there) to the mix… I’m not sure, but I think one might be able to get a restraining order against that shyster lawyer to legally prevent her from calling and other harassment. Then if she violates it, she can join your brother-in-law in jail.

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    1. You are right about the restraining order, Patti. My sister’s lawyer is putting one in place right now. Some lawyers seem to feel they can act outside the law – it’s very unnerving. Thank you for excellent words of wisdom!

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    1. I really appreciate you saying that, Tumblewords. It means a lot to me. Life can be incredibly overwhelming but seeing the beauty around us does help!

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  7. The contrast between the flowers and the events are most striking…you have reinforced my opinion of some lawyers….who will do anything for money. 😦

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  8. Great post Selma even though the story that inspires it is rather horrible, I am reminded of the old one
    Question: “what do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the harbour?
    Answer: A damn good start!

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  9. Such a beautifully written post about beauty and darkness, Selma. Well done to you for standing up to that scumbag!! Your sister is fortunate to have a beautiful magnolia like you in her back garden. xxx

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  10. You haven’t said whether or not your sister has divorced this devil. Surely that would settle things forever. Peace of mind ought to be worth sacrificing some property, if she has to do that. She doesn’t want to have to worry about the madman moving back in later, if/when he’s released.

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    1. They are in the process of getting divorced, Chartreuse. And I agree with you 100%, peace of mind is more important than anything. My sister has moved out of their home – it is lying vacant at the moment. She plans to never go back there.

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  11. Wow, he sounds really horrible – best to get everything sorted before he gets out – sounds like he’s capable of anything! Your writing on the other hand is exquisite (sounds like a novel – Magnolias at Dusk). Glad things are working out with your rellies though – sometimes we need a bad thing from the outside to bring us together.

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  12. What a wonderful testament to the healing power of nature, and the wonderful refuge a true sister can be! Yes, what ridiculous trumped up legal charges! No one causes another’s alcoholism. A judge would laugh them out of court. But I do understand how intimidating such crap can be when you are already worn down from years of harassment and abuse. That man is buying himself a ticket to hell! I am so glad your sister has you to be the voice of reason and comfort! And oh how beautiful these blossoms are… sturdy and substantial and so amazing in their simplicity! One of my very favorite photos yet!

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  13. You are an amzing woman Selma – I hope you realise that. Courage and strength to both you and your sister through these trying times and I sincerely hope your ratbag BIL has a long prison stay!

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  14. beautiful. wishing you both freedom from ridiculous hassles. anyone who deals professionally with the disease of alcoholism knows that the ill person, twisted in mind as they become, will say or do anything to manipulate a situation. very sad situation. i am so glad you are there for your sister.

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  15. Thank goodness for the support of family and the comfort to be found in simplicity. Some people just make me wonder about the state of the world … I hope things soon become less worrisome for your sister.

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