Shane came home from work on Friday and said that his father had called him earlier in the day. This is the first contact we’ve had with him since the day before our wedding last April, when he told Shane that he and Marilyn (his wife) couldn’t come to the wedding because they “had something else to do that day.” Shane’s relationship with his father has always been difficult, rooted mostly in Bob’s abandoning Shane and his [blind] mother when he was a child, and Bob’s tendency for selfishness. However, because family is so important to me, I have always pushed Shane to have some sort of relationship with Bob, if only for the sake of Brady being able to see his grandpa. Well, not attending our wedding pretty much ended any desire I had to be “familial” with Bob and Marilyn. How does one justify not attending his own child’s wedding? I cannot imagine a scenario where my family would not be there for me during such an important time. I told Shane that if we were going to talk to his dad ever again, then Bob had to make the first move. I just knew that if I tried to contact him, I would end up blowing up at him, and from what Shane tells me about past problems he’s had with Bob, it wouldn’t matter anyway. My reaction wouldn’t make any difference in his behavior.
You can imagine our shock when out of the blue, Bob called Shane at work and asked if they could have breakfast together on Sunday. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. If I could have figured out a way to record that conversation, I would have. Here’s what Bob had to say for himself: He was really upset with Shane for not attending his mother’s funeral in December 2005. Even though this woman was Shane’s grandmother, he barely knew her. He’s not close enough to his dad to have wanted to go to the funeral for his sake, and since his own mother died 15+ years ago, funerals are really hard for him. He’s not going to go to one unless it’s for someone he really cared about. Additionally, Bob said that he was upset that Shane and I didn’t involve him and Marilyn more in our engagement and wedding. They never had a chance to meet my parents before the wedding, mostly because on the several occasions that Shane invited them to go out with my parents, they were busy.
Here’s my interpretation of Bob’s position: He was pissed because Shane didn’t go to his mom’s funeral, so he decided to get back at him by not attending our wedding. Further, because our engagement and wedding was focused on us, the couple getting married, and not on him, then he had more justification for not attending. Yes, Bob is a grown man in his late 60s, but apparently he has the maturity of a 14 year old girl. What kind of adult person behaves like that? I’ve been accused of being selfish most of my life, and I think that there are many times when that assessment of my personality is fair, but I would never act like I should be the center of attention during the planning and execution of someone else’s wedding. His selfishness shocks even me.
What’s most amazing about all of this is that Shane let him off the hook. After a lifetime of disappointment from his father, Shane is well-versed in the language of forgiveness with regards to his father’s behavior. He knows that nothing he says or does will ever change his dad, so he doesn’t try. He stays mad at him for a while and then forgives him. This doesn’t mean that he allows Bob to trample all over him. On the contrary, Shane is very well aware of the bad that Bob is capable of. But anger is not an emotion that Shane feels very often and he doesn’t like to waste a lot of energy on it. I think it’s easier for him to forgive, never quite forgetting, and to move on.
I, on the other hand, have saved up a few choice words for Bob. Shane has already warned him that he has a lot of making up to do with me before I’ll forgive him. He has no