Having given my mother several “second chances” over the years, I felt the need to call my father and extend to him the same courtesy. Today I called him, and told him that I remembered many birthdays when he’d called me and said “Oh, by the way, your mom wishes you a happy birthday, too.” Not to mention several times he’d attempted to relay written messages from my mother, as he did on the day after Christmas last year.
So, this afternoon, I called him. I prefaced my entire conversation with the admission that since I gave mom several chances to change, I felt that I owed him at least one. Then I asked him if he remembered how many times I’d asked him to stop playing relay for her. He said he couldn’t remember me ever making that request – until I reminded him of all the birthday messages he’d relayed that I specifically asked to never hear again. Then I reminded him of all the times he’d gotten written messages from her and tried to relay them to me – including my most recent birthday when he showed up at my house and surprised me with the card I did not want. I told him that while I was sorry that things went the way they did, it was pure self-preservation that caused me to reject his visit on Dec. 26th.
Then I said that, if he could agree to NEVER attempt to relay another message from her, I’m willing to give him the second chance that I gave her. I didn’t want to be disconnected from him, but he had to agree to my simple limit on what we talk about. No more messages from mom. EVER.
He said he didn’t think it would be a problem, in a tone that sounded like he’d already talked to her and told her that he wouldn”t be able to help any more. So, I confirmed that, on that condition, we’re still good, and I’ll continue taking his calls and visits.
I really hope this works.
This is a very special edition of my Saturday Posts series, because today I get the privilege of wishing my wife a happy birthday, On her birthday, on a Saturday Post.
Sweetheart, we’ve certainly been through a lot together, and I’m thankful every day that you still want to keep me around. I hope you have a wonderful birthday.
I’ve written before about the struggle I’ve had with trying to convince my father to stop playing relay man for messages from my mother. For some reason that escapes me, he’s never been willing to see my side of the issue. Without fail, every time she’s asked him to forward a message, he’s willingly accepted the assignment, and dutifully attempted a delivery.
While I was sleeping on December 25th, 2019, my father called and told my wife that he had a card from my mother he wanted to bring over. She told me about it when I woke up. On the 26th, he called again to say that he was ready to make the trip over. I answered the phone, and told him to save his gas. I knew why he wanted to come over, and still wanted nothing to do with it.
As if he thought I was a total fool, he suggested that he could still come over to visit if I just wanted to spend time with him. That cut me like a knife through the heart, because I would have loved to have the chance to chat with him under friendly circumstances. However, by his own actions he’d already made this a hostile encounter. He told my wife that he had the card from my mother, and now there was no way I could trust him to come over for a visit and NOT bring that card with him. He’s backed my mother on every attempt she’s ever made to reconnect.
So, I made a very, very difficult decision. I told my father to save his gas, and that he’s burned the last bridge he had to me. I told him that I’ll miss him, and that I’m sorry it came to this, but he is no longer welcome: in my home, or my life. He couldn’t stop pushing me to reconcile with mom, and the result was he pushed himself out of my life.
We just have oppositional views on life. My view is that if you have a right to associate with whomever you choose, you also have a right to choose who NOT to associate with. My dad believes that, in some sick way, biology binds you and forces you into relationships that you are not allowed to ever deny. It is a terrible outcome, but we can’t continue to function as relatives.