What would you have done?

Wisebread has a post about family members that are bad with money. After reading the article and comments, I remembered an incident several years ago.

I had three half-sisters. Two older, one younger. I only grew up really knowing the younger one, who we'll call Tina. To make a long story short, Tina and I were close then grew apart over a couple of pretty serious events. After several years of not talking to each other, she reached out to me. Turns out the reason she did that was because she had just started her new career as a "financial advisor" with World Financial Group...which is basically what I and a lot of other people considered a scam. So basically she was looking for clients. In the interest of trying to build our relationship again, I suggested meeting up for coffee, etc., however it always had to be in some far-flung suburb near her "office" after one of her "meetings" which she would conveniently suggest I attend, then we could go out afterwards. I wasn't having it so I declined, saying that when she had some free time we can get together.

Anyway, a month or two of this goes by and we find out that one of the older sisters that leaves in Canada got stomach cancer. I had a little spare cash to take care of airfare and hotel for my mother and me. Next thing I know I get a call from Tina. She wanted to talk about what happened with our older sister and what I was planning to do. I told her that I was able to scrape together some cash to get my mother and me to go see her, then I asked what her plans were. Well, long story short, again...it became clear that her plan was me. She didn't come right out and say it, she would just throw road blocks in front of all my suggestions:

Me: "Ask your mom for a loan."
Tina: "She doesn't have the money."

Me: "Use your credit card."
Tina: "My credit is bad, I don't have a card."

Me: "As your mom to use her credit card to front you the money then pay off the card."
Tina: "She doesn't have enough money on her card to pay for anything."

Me: "Wait until your next paycheck then make the trip."
Tina: "That's a whole week later, anything could happen and I might miss the chance to see here while she's still alive."

Then she asks me, "What do you think I should do? I don't have the money, and I'd rather stay with you and your mom than at a relative's house that I don't know (when I suggested she take the train for cheap and stay at our sister's house with some other relatives). So, I don't know what to do..."

"I don't have any other answers for you than what I've already shared." I knew she wanted me to offer her the money but I didn't do it. Part of me wondered if I was doing the right thing, however I justified it because we'd been out of each others lives for so long, and the only reason we were talking again was because she wanted me to be a client for her new multi-level marketing scheme. I didn't have the money to give away, so I didn't offer it to her, even though I knew that's what she was looking for. Even though I knew that other sister was ill, and chances are Tina wouldn't make it in time to see her if I didn't pay for her to come with me.

My mother and I went to Canada for a week to visit with my sister in the hospital. We checked into our hotel then walked over to the hospital (I chose the hotel specifically because it was close to where she was). She seemed surprised and delighted that we were there. Making jokes, etc. That would be the last time we'd talk to her. The very next day began a steady decline. A few days after that she passed away. It was three weeks between her diagnosis and her death.

Do I feel guilty about my decision to not give Tina the money? No. Not even when my sister asked about where she was, and when I responded, "Tina wanted to be her but she couldn't make it. She says she loves you very much and wants you to get well soon." My sister smiled as she heavily breathed, "Ok" and made a comment about how my handbag matched nicely with my jacket (I was quite sharp that day). I don't feel guilty for all the reasons stated above, and also, if Tina wanted to borrow the money, she should have just asked for it. I felt like she was trying to manipulate me and/or the situation to get me to offer it to her instead of her just being upfront. Also, I wasn't willing to go into debt for her. Given the fact that we just started talking a month prior after years of not talking to each other, and the only reason we were was because she was looking for clients--I didn't feel obligated to give her money.

I haven't heard from Tina since. I don't hate her. She's my sister and there will always be a part of me that loves her that comes from that relationship we had in the past. That said, I absolutely refuse to be manipulated if I can help it. By anyone.