My husband ended up having not only a mastectomy but general anesthesia. All last week he was nervous, so I decided to have him attend the Adult Day Care Center to keep his mind off the upcoming surgery, which worked quite well in distracting him. I could make the necessary phone calls and prepare the house for what I thought would be a simple procedure, simple recovery. Nothing went as planned.

In what I can only describe as being blindsided, he and I slept late Saturday morning. As he ate breakfast at lunch time, I gave him three books written in the 1930's, geared towards 7-11 year olds. With titles like Teddy and the Mystery Dog, Teddy and the Mystery Monkey, and Teddy and the Mystery Deer, I was pretty certain he would enjoy them. He started the dog book in the middle until I suggested he start at the beginning.

So, he was reading and I was on E2 reading and messaging. All was calm...until the house phone rang about 1pm. I answered and it was his schizophrenic sister. She said she'd had a bad week and I told her of her brother's upcoming surgery as well as a root canal that couldn't be done since the endodontist showed me a cyst or polyp between his front teeth that was eroding both teeth as well as his jawbone.

I'm still processing all that happened next. His sister asked if I knew his sister from California was on the way to our house to retrieve some China that had been their mother's. Before I could answer no on the phone, there was loud banging on our front porch screen door. And shouting. I hung up, saying I'd call her back later. In the two minutes it took for me to get to the door, the sister from San Luis Obispo, accompanied by one of her sons and his 10 year-old daughter, had almost ripped the door off its hinges.

I told her to calm down as she spewed forth hateful, hostile accusations and threats at me, personally. In front of the 10 year-old. For the first time in my life, I considered demonic possession. After opening the door, I explained her brother was resting up for surgery...and she shoved me. Trying to maintain a semblance of control, I suggested they sit and I'd wake him up. She pushed me again, harder, with a crazed look on her face. In front of the 10 year-old, a little slip of a girl wearing pink sparkly nail polish.

Struggling with various emotions, I woke my husband, book at his side, and explained the weird situation. I felt so guilty asking him to deal with his sister. The two of them went outside and I was left to play hostess, which I did until I realized her son had a list of questions regarding our finances, most likely supplied by his mother. I offered cookies and milk to the girl, then said I needed to make a phone call.

Literally sick-to-my-stomach, I shakily texted both sons and my daughter, who were all in the midst of weekend relaxation. Locked myself in our bedroom and tried to contact our lawyer to no avail. Looked up an Elder Care attorney within 5 miles and called, leaving a distressed and apologetic message, it being Saturday afternoon. Our older son arrived first and I let him in the locked bedroom. Younger son was at the beach with girlfriend, but immediately started heading home. My daughter was at a hockey rink, but said she'd stop by, if needed.

The physical altercation reminded me of a bad relationship when I almost was choked to death, that I'd never told my kids about, nor my husband. I couldn't stop shaking and feeling helpless, plus guilty that I couldn't be strong enough to protect my vulnerable husband. Within one hour after contacting my adult kids, my older son took charge until his brother arrived, since the sister was, in his words, "manipulative and playing every card she could."

I could only watch from an upstairs window and feel like such a failure. Apparently, our younger son hit traffic and our older son did something he didn't think he could do without his brother. He tried stalling them, then something snapped and he told them, "No one comes to my house and upsets my parents. You can leave now or I'll call the police." His brother arrived and reinforced this sentiment, both adding swear words after the 10 year-old went to sit in the car of her own accord.

Both of our sons came upstairs and asked how attached I was to the China. I told them it was not worth more than a few thousand and she should have taken it in 2005 when she ransacked the rest of her mother's addition before spiriting her mother off to change the will and dump her in an unlicensed nursing home where she died alone. By then, I'd somewhat pulled it together, told them to tell her I had POA, that she was trespassing and creating a disturbance of the peace. Plus, I'm big on principle and was not going to reward that behavior.

My husband came upstairs and I broke down, deep, deep crying while he just held me and said, "That was not my sister. That was wrong." Then he cried. Meanwhile, my younger son arranged for a limo to take us out for dinner and my daughter met us there and stayed to visit to make sure he and I were both okay. We all did a group hug and I told them I've never been more proud of them.

To top it off, the lawyer-I've-never-even-met called me at 10pm, listened and calmed me down, following it the next morning with an email wishing us well with the surgery and no more drama. I've had the house phone off the hook since and it's surprisingly peaceful. Life has a way of presenting us with challenges when least expected. I'm still learning.