So… today I went to lunch with my whole family because my Dad’s father has come into town. He (and his wife) live in Florida and to make a long story short, I’ve met them once in my entire life and I was about 3 years old. I don’t remember him at all. He’s never really made any attempt at a relationship with myself or any of my siblings and for the 23 years that I’ve been alive, has never ONCE come to visit us, no matter where we lived. Other than a Birthday card (that is very clearly from his wife… not from him) and a $15.00 check every year, I have nothing from him other than my Dad. The one attempt I made at getting to know him was when I was about 14 years old and was going through my rebel teenage phase (in which I shortly afterward became pregnant!) and I was causing so much trouble for my parents that they decided it would be good for me to spend a summer away from home and away from the trouble. My dad sent his dad a letter explaining the situation and asking if I could come stay with them for a summer… well, he wrote back to my dad giving a 2 page (2 pages, no joke) list of reasons why it wouldn’t be convenient for them to have me around. (I ended up spending the summer in Nebraska with my Mom’s sister instead). But, that just gives you an idea.
We found out this year that he has prostate cancer along with a million other problems… God only knows… I have no idea.. anyway, he knows he’s dying and we know he’s dying. He will probably die this year and if he doesn’t, I’ll be really surprised. I think BECAUSE he knows he’s dying, he’s starting to realize that maybe he should have been more involved with his family… his SON for one. He’s never been there for my dad. He (dad’s dad) was in the Air Force so they lived in Japan for many years while my dad was younger and moved around a lot… so he wasn’t around very much as is… then, my dad’s mother died when he was 15 years old from a brain Aneurism and after that, they really had no relationship. The only thing I can see that was good out of it was that because his dad wasn’t around his whole life, my dad WAY over compensated by being the most amazing dad you can imagine. I imagine he knew how it felt to not have a dad that cared, so when my parents had us, my dad gave every bit of his being to be a good dad to us. So, I have his dad to thank for THAT I guess. lol
Anyway, they’re visiting for like a week I guess… staying with my parents… and my dad wanted all of us to go out to lunch today. Needless to say, I felt extremely uncomfortable about it and the ONLY reason I agreed to do it is so I can be there as support to my dad. I imagine it was probably fairly hard for him too… probably way more, considering I don’t even KNOW the guy. My parents got upset at me because Bart and I are going camping this weekend with HIS dad’s side of the family, which has been planned for months, and my parents think that since this is the only time I’ll have to get to know my “Grandpa”, that I should take it. Well, I don’t care if I’m a bitch, but I’m not going to cancel plans on Bart’s family.. MY family… just because some guy decided to come visit. Maybe I’m blinded by my resentment… do you think I’m being completely unreasonable? Should I give him a chance? I don’t have a problem going and I’ll probably even talk to him, but I have no desire to try to build a relationship with a man that has had 23 years to be in my life and then he picks NOW to jump in… how convenient… considering he’s going to DIE. I told my mom that what would probably end up happening if I did try to gain a relationship is that I’ll probably LIKE him more than I expect to, will feel all great because I suddenly have a Grandpa and then he’ll die right as I start to get used to it. Great. LOL I’m just so frustrated about it. Maybe I’m more frustrated that he’s going to die. Deep down, I love the fact that for once in my life, he’s in the same STATE as me… but I don’t want to open myself up to him just to knowingly crush myself by losing yet another person I care for.
I just got back and well, as most things turn out… I lived through it. Things are NEVER as bad as I prepare for them to be and even though I know that about myself, I still always exaggerate my feelings.
It was… interesting. Almost my whole family was there, including my 19 year old nephew and 16 year old niece. It was so great just to simply see them there, part of the family… It was my entire family, excluding my sister and brother in law who live in Seattle, my 2 brother in laws and my BROTHER didn’t come he’s at the Army base or something this week. Anyway… yeah… The first thing I noticed that was very strange to me is that My dad’s dad is EXACTLY like my dad. They look the same (I imagine my dad will look exactly the same way when he’s in his 80’s), they TALK the same, they even have the same laugh. It was SO strange to see that and I sat and really wondered how it was that two people so much alike didn’t have a relationship at all. I was WAY happy for one thing though… Bart had to work and didn’t plan on coming and he came!! I was so happy he was there and I think because he came, I didn’t feel nearly as uncomfortable as I thought I would. When we walked in, the first thing he (Don) said to me was “Do you remember me?” and I simply said “No.” I wasn’t RUDE or anything, I just said No… I felt like saying “Are you serious? You expect me to remember you when I haven’t seen you for 20 years?? I’M 23 YEARS OLD!” Anyway… we started talking about how old everyone was, the grandkids, etc. and Brenda (“grandma”) started naming off everyone’s birthdays. I was really shocked that she KNEW our birthdays. She had everyone’s birthdays and ages memorized. I just… was blown away. I didn’t even know how to respond. Just that small fact that they knew when my birthday was made me think “Wow, they really did KNOW I exist”.
It was great to see my dad interact with his dad. I had to hold back tears a few times because he just looked so happy. He looked like a little boy who’s dad was taking him fishing or something. I sat next to my dad during lunch and there were a few times that I just had to put my head on his shoulder and hug him because I just didn’t know how else to express how I felt seeing him so happy. It was seriously as if they had never been parted. I didn’t talk to them a whole lot and mostly just observed everyone else interacting, but it wasn’t at all as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. After lunch, I even hugged Brenda and after we got outside and everyone was walking to their cars and saying goodbyes, etc. I gave Don a hug and said “It was good to see you”. That was it. If I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure I saw him tear up before I headed to my car.
Brenda said something to me before I left, basically how much this meant to Don and how proud he was of all of us. She said there have been so many times that they wanted to come visit. I felt like asking “Then why didn’t you?” but it ended there. She just said “There have been so, so many times that we wanted to see you” I was somewhat WAITING for “But we didn’t have the time, or money, or we were sick” or or or… you know? She didn’t. No excuses, that’s all she said. It really makes me wonder how much guilt he’s been carrying around all these years. Really the past 40 years because that’s about when he stopped being around for my Dad. He’s GOT to regret that he missed out on ALL of his grandkids and GREAT grandkids lives… especially his son. How could he not regret it? He knows he’s dying now and now he sees what he missed. I hope that he sees how wonderful my dad is. I actually wished I had told him that.
As I said, we’re supposed to be going camping with Bart’s dad this weekend and so far, his dad hasn’t called us. Bart said that if we don’t hear from them by tonight, we’re not going to go, because we’re supposed to leave tomorrow after work and there’s no way I’m going shopping and packing, etc. etc. etc. and then driving 80 miles. My mom said they’re having a BBQ on Saturday, then lunch at my brother’s on Sunday… and now I’m thinking that if we don’t go camping, I want to go. The argument I’m now having with myself is do I really want to fall in love with this guy… my “Grandpa” and build a bit of a relationship just to have him die? He’ll probably die before the end of the year. Do I really want to do that? It would have been so much easier if he had just been a complete jerk or something… but no… he had to be nice… he’s just like my dad… and now I find myself WANTING to get to know him. I don’t even see the point. It’s not like I’ll be able to continue a relationship. I feel angry at myself for allowing me to like him. I wish I hadn’t gone now. Why did he choose NOW? Why didn’t he want a relationship with us even a couple years ago or something? Give us SOME time to have a relationship with him?? It would just be easier for me if I left it alone and didn’t get to know him any more than just today. I don’t know.