Friday, April 10, 2009

Disfunctional Families

My father-in-law is dying. That is, if he hasn't already died. The man has another family. In this case, he never remarried, but he has been with the same woman for over 40 years. In all of those years they never actually lived together until the last year when his furnace quit working and he stayed at her house until he could get it fixed. Only, he never got it fixed! She was a widow with three young children, he was divorced with three (adopted) children. For whatever reason, he had custody of his children, and they spent every other weekend with their Mother. I think it was probably a very unusual situation during the late 60's. My husband rarely talks about his childhood, and when he does it isn't the fun type of stories I have to tell. I think it must have been very difficult. When we first were married I tried to have a relationship with him, especially after my own Dad died. The kids were still just babies and I believed they needed a Grandfather. My efforts didn't go very far. My husband basically said "I told you so". So, altho I have tried to stay in contact, I haven't put much effort into it; my husband none at all. His lady-friend's children have taken care of him. They have run him to his doctors appointments, they have spent holidays with him. I might say here, I was willing. I was never taken up on my offers. So now he is dying. We weren't even contacted until he had been in the hospital for 5 days, and then through an e-mail. I offered to take my niece to see him--the hospital is almost 100 miles away--but she decided to call before we got very far just to see if we could even get in to see the man. One of the daughters suggested she just talk to her grandfather on the phone, that maybe she wouldn't want to see him like that--that she keep her memories of him as she had seen him last, which has been over 5 years ago. I want to believe that she really believed that, but I have to wonder if they just don't want us there. They consider him as a father, and we are a reminder that he isn't really. My feeling is, they are the family he wishes he had had, while we are the family that he was responsible for. He had a heart attach 10 years ago and was only given 3 to 5 years at the time. We've always wondered if they would call us right away when he died, or if they would wait until they had some things arranged. My niece and I went and visited with the lady-friend yesterday since we didn't go to the hospital (her health is also bad and she isn't able to make the trip) and we spoke with her other daughter. We very plainly said we wanted to be kept up-dated, but we haven't heard a word all day. And I'm not sure why, but I feel such a need for this woman's children to understand that we did not stay away all these years because we chose too, but because we felt pushed away, both by my father-in-law, and by their mother. I have a large extended family, and we stay in close touch during trying times. It's hard for me to understand my husband's family. I really don't want to have to do the next few days, but I'm going to be so relieved when this is over with. I'm just praying that he has a will--we don't even care if he leaves everything to the other family. Hey, they took care of him! They should get it! (if there is even anything to get.)

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