19 February 2008

A bad man

I have to vent. This is going to be long.

Shane’s dad sent him a birthday card at work. On the inside he wrote: “I hope life is treating you good. Life is pretty short from not being a family togetherness [sic], but I guess that’s the way you want it to be. Anyway, you are being thought of on your birthday. Hope you have many more.”

A little background: Shane’s dad (Mr. R) and his mom were divorced when Shane was 11. His mother was blind from diabetes, and therefore could not work. Mr. R left Shane and his mom with barely enough child support to pay the bills. Shane’s older sister opted to live with Mr. R instead of staying and helping take care of their mother. The responsibility for taking care of his blind mother fell to Shane alone. Mr. R and the sister did not see or speak to Shane for 8+ years. His mother died from complications from diabetes when Shane was 19 or 20. He finally saw his father and sister again at his mother’s funeral.

For the next 15 or so years, Mr. R tried to repair the relationship with Shane that he had damaged. Shane forgave him, and they got along pretty well, even taking a few trips together. Mr. R was excited when Shane got married to his first wife, and when they had BB. There were more transgressions on the part of Mr. R, but nothing as significant as when he left Shane’s mom.

Cut to 2004. Shane and I started dating. He explained to me the difficult relationship he’d had with his father. But for me, family is family. It was important to me that Shane had a good relationship with his father because family is very important to me. I felt that if it was possible, then he should try to get along with Mr. R. After all, we planned on having kids and I want my children to know their grandfather.

In December of 2005, Mr. R’s mom died. Shane did not grow up around his grandmother; barely knew her. So he opted not to go to the funeral. I suppose he could have gone for the benefit of his father, but since his own mother’s death (he was the one who found her when she died, by the way) it upsets him to be around death and funerals and the like.

In the few months after his grandmother’s funeral, we didn’t hear from Mr. R at all. I didn’t think much about it because I was planning our wedding and was too busy to notice. He hadn’t RSVP’d, but then neither did my parents. I just didn’t think anything of it. Then the day before our wedding in April 2006, I asked Shane to call his dad and ask if he could watch BB during the wedding. BB wanted to be at the wedding, but we needed someone to sit with him and watch him until the wedding was over and we arrived at the reception. His dad’s response was no. He and his wife, Mrs. R, would not be at the wedding because they “had other things to do that day.”

That’s right. Shane’s dad and stepmom did not attend our wedding. Neither did his sister. The only family member that Shane had at the wedding was BB. I had people drive and fly in from all over the country, but his father who lives 10 minutes from here couldn’t be bothered.

That was it for me. I had heard the stories from Shane about the wrongs his father had done to him, but since it hadn’t involved me, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. No longer. What kind of piece of shit doesn’t attend his own son’s wedding? Shane was so hurt by that. This amazingly good-hearted man had been let down by his father in such a monumental way. It was an unforgivable act to me. I wanted nothing more to do with Mr. R.

Nearly a year went by before we heard from Mr. R again. He finally called Shane and asked to meet with him and talk. They met and Mr. R explained that the reason he had not attended the wedding was because he was hurt that Shane had not gone to his grandmother’s funeral (Shane maintains that Mr. R didn’t want Shane there for support – he was upset that Shane wasn’t there because of the way it made him look – he had to explain to everyone why his son wasn’t there). I was appalled. That was behavior I expect to see in a teenage girl, not a 60-something year old man.

Anyway, they patched things up and Mr. R started coming by the house on weekends that we had BB, to spend time with him. It should be noted that I never have forgiven Mr. R. For various reasons, I have never had the opportunity to tell Mr. R what I think of him. Wanting to avoid a fight that I was sure would upset Shane, I just made sure that I was never home when Mr. R came by. Life went on as usual for a while.

Then in May of last year, Shane’s oldest nephew graduated from high school. His sister sent us a graduation announcement, which really surprised me since I’m pretty sure they haven’t spoken to each other in a couple of years. I left it up to Shane to send his nephew a card and make a decision about whether or not we would attend the graduation party. Well, being a man, he forgot about the card, and we didn’t go to the party because we had other plans that weekend.

Apparently, that upset Mr. R. Again, he stopped contacting Shane. We hadn’t heard a word from him until Christmas, when he called and asked to see BB on Christmas Eve. Though our attendance at the graduation party had nothing to do with him, he decided it was his business to punish us for not attending. He even went so far as to circumvent Shane completely in trying to see BB and started picking him up from Shane’s ex’s house every so often. Since Christmas, Mr. R hasn't called.

So here’s where my vent comes in… The note in the birthday card he sent to Shane implies that we do not have contact with him because of some decision Shane has made. Bullshit! He is the reason. The ONLY reason. It angers me that he can treat Shane like shit and then blame it on him. What kind of parent… hell, what kind of ADULT… behaves like this? I saw the card (which he sent to Shane’s work because I’m sure he doesn’t even know our home address) and was instantly pissed. Shane just shook his head, “But he’s such a good father because he sent his son a birthday card” (said with much sarcasm). I’m tellin’ you, if I am ever in a room with Mr. R again, it will not be pretty. There will be yelling. There will be recriminations. There may even be throwing of punches. (Okay, not really, but that’s how much I hate him.)

It makes me sad deep in my soul that this man who I love so much has such a profoundly shitty father. Shane is quite possibly the most selfless, compassionate, and kind person I’ve ever known. He has an optimism that is rare. Despite his horrible childhood, he is a happy person who has not let his past cloud his life now. I wish that he had supportive and loving family. There are many reasons why I am happy that we found each other, but one of those reasons is that I knew my family would accept him and love him, and this most amazing man would finally have the family he deserved to have.

I wish there was an end to this. I wish I could just write off Mr. R and never think of or deal with him again. But what do we do when we have kids? I’ve told Shane that I will not have my children around such a horrible man. He agrees. But what happens if Mr. R insists on being in the lives of my children? I cannot stand the thought. If it were up to me, he’d never know when we have kids. But keeping that secret is impossible since he still sees BB now and again, and I can’t expect a kid to keep a secret from his grandfather. I guess we’ll leap off that bridge when we come to it. Oy.


Blogger Jo said...

He can insist all he wants and you have every right to refuse him. My heart hurts for Shane - what a horrible person to have around your neck.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Brena said...

Poor Shane! I grew up with an abusive family but sheesh! At least they don't persecute me over petty stuff and send me passive agressive notes. :( Luckily your children will still have your parents!

8:41 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I fully agree with Jo, your future kids don't have to see him. That is your call, he has no legal claim on them. He will call you a horrible person for not letting him see his grandchildren, but you must do what is best for your kids. You know the truth about who has been horrible, and who hasn't.

My heart goes out to Shane. What hurtful and petty person.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Magatha said...

I could write you an essay about what I think is going on in your FIL's head because I have a Dad who is an entire pity party unto himself also. But, my opinions come from a place that does not value family for family's sake, so they would be useless to you.
As long as you value family, you have to put up with their shit and have irritation injected into your life on a regular basis. Accepting the difference between what you want them to be and what they really are is your number one task.
But don't listen to me. I have a sister who I have not seen or spoken to in 20 years. I haven't seen my father in over 10 years and my brother can go screw himself.
The only one I want to see in my mother but she is dead.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Dame Wendy said...

Oh honey my heart hurts for you. I know what that's like in so many ways. HUGE HUGS!

9:58 AM  
Blogger kemtee said...

That your husband grew into the man he is today despite his father is a testament to his character.

Toxic people don't deserve the energy most people spend on them. Evil gets its way in the world because few people have the guts to stand up to it. My advice would be to close the door on this chapter and move on, giving your attention and devotion to those with a much better claim.

Just my $.02. Your DH is the only one who really has the right to make that call. He seems to have his head on straight enough.

9:23 PM  
Blogger TechGirl said...

You should've asked me to have BB sit with my family during the wedding. Josie would've loved having him sit with us.

I know what you mean by being happy that Shane has your family to love him. I'm the same way with Glenn, who's family is dysfunctional as hell. He doesn't "get" the whole unconditional love thing.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Eryn said...

I know I'm so late too this, but I have to send hugs. That is just awful.

9:45 AM  

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