One of the worst fights I ever had with my sister happened in a car in Scottsdale, Arizona. We were together with our mother at the Elizabeth Arden Spa called Maine Chance. Mother brought us both out there along with her as a family. Usually, only my sister Dede went with Mother. It was their time to be together and bond without any interference from other siblings, family members, husbands, or children. They always had a great time sharing a room and acting like roommates.
I went to Maine Chance with my mother alone a couple of times, too. But I had a room of my own. I did not want to be roommates. I loved my mother, but we had a different relationship. Our conversations were more in-depth emotionally. I believe Mother needed space from me as I did from her. It worked well when we spent time together like that.
However, the time when Dede and I were both there with Mother was memorable. Mother and Dede shared a room in the main house, I believe. I stayed in my private casita far from there, a long walk. I loved the tranquility of being by myself. It was a way for me to re-charge. And interestingly, I believe that Dede and Mother got a sort of happy energy from sharing a room. They were very much alike.
The big difference between my mother and my sister is that Mother did not like confrontation. She would avoid it at all costs. Dede, on the other hand, reminds me of the Angel Michael in the movie of the same name starring John Travolta. He loved “Battle” and rushed into it without thinking since he felt invincible.
So this particular day we had been shopping in the late afternoon after finishing our exercise classes and massage. We were wiped out. And now, I know I was dehydrated. But at the time, we did not know about hydrating the body. And the tradition at Maine Chance was to forgo water at meals. It was supposed to be fattening. They calibrated all our meals to add up to 900 calories a day. Way too little if you ask me now. The point is we were hungry and tired and needed water. It was early February and hot and dry in the desert during the day. Though the nights cooled down, so sleeping was marvelous. It was a wonderfully, luxurious place. We would have been better off if we had gone back to our rooms for a nap. Dede and Mother loved to shop.
Somehow the subject of fur came up. And then fox fur in particular. I lived in Virginia, Fauquier County in fact. Fox hunting country second to none except in Great Britain, and my family and I lived at its center. Hunting had been my sport for years. Knowledge of hunting was something that made me feel proud and confident. I knew a thing or two about foxes. In Virginia, when referring to a baby or young fox, we often use the term “kit” interchangeably with “cub.” As far as I knew, they meant the same thing exactly.
My sister Dede lived in California and had nothing whatever to do with foxhunting or even horses. What did Dede know about foxes, I wondered?
So when she began speaking of a kit fox coat in colors of gray and copper, I objected. “No!” I said. Foxes are gray or red, not both. Of course and argument ensued because neither of us wanted to be wrong, and besides, we both KNEW we were right.
Dede insisted that Kit Foxes were separate from other foxes. But I had never heard of a separate breed called “Kit”fox. And since I dealt with foxes every day and she did not, I gave her no credit for being right. It never even occurred to me that she might be right. It was impossible. I may have felt “I know everything about foxes,” and she did not. Sigh.
We had an intense argument in the car about this. I was absolutely furious. And so was she. Our voices rose, and the tone of voice was full of venom. Our poor mother had no idea how to break this fight up. Luckily we were not sitting together or I think we might have resorted to hair pulling. Our argument was full of hate and old resentments. Jealousy and childhood slights made the intensity terrifying to our mother. It is still a fairly intact memory for me. It was a fight that laid bare some real feeling of dislike which had been festering beneath the surface. And of course we never resolved these because we did not live in the same state or spend any significant amount of time together. Plus in those days we both had a pretty unforgiving attitude about our enemies.
The sad thing is I never found out until recently that she was completely correct. I googled “kitfoxes” and learned that they inhabit the SouthWestern United States. And they are brown/copper and gray. No wonder I had never heard of them, they are western foxes. There are none in Virginia or anywhere else in the east. I was so ignorant of them that I denied their existence. Golly, it is hard to be SOOOO wrong. Dede knew a lot about fur. She was the “shopper,” not me. She was the one who knew buyers and fashionistas and furriers and jewelers. Knowledge of that sort was as crucial to her as my foxhunting knowledge was to me. So, of course, she was mad. And she was CORRECT. She was not going to back down. Why should she? If only we had had Google back then. But we did not have it. And when I got home, I had no intention of looking up this fact about foxes. I believed I knew I was right.
That must have nearly 37 years ago. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Both of us are divorced, and she married a second time. She is a widow now. We are both single, and we have just recently lost our mother. It is too bad that we can’t commiserate with each other. There is more in the way than kitfoxes. But perhaps it is a start if I say, “Dede, you were right about those foxes. All those years ago, I was wrong, and you were right. And I never knew it until now. I am sorry.”
Copyright?. 2020 Bonnie B. Matheson