Tag Archives: death and dying

Knowing a parent and what makes kids be good people


Do you ever really know what kind of people your parents are when you are little? Now in my 30’s I’m finding out. I think in a family that had more contact I might have figured this out earlier, but due to recent circumstances I’m seeing  previously hidden depths to a family member that I already didn’t like but didn’t really have an active dislike for.

So, my grandfather died recently and there is some inheritance business. As my grandmother had died some years previous, he had intentions to change legal wording so that me and my siblings would be covered but didn’t get to it in time. Things are still up in the air (and thus I’m not publishing this until I get a copy of the trust myself), but last-minute legal changes were made. It’s a fingers crossed situation that my father won’t contest the new legal wording which will deprive me and my siblings of being covered under the inheritance. I’m not bothered whether anything comes my way or not. We are financially fine. My siblings could probably use it though. It’s just the intentions I guess. Relative intended (but procrastinated) for us to be covered. And my father may very well intend to deprive us of any cover.

Now I should have figured out my father wasn’t a great person from him leaving his wife and three children to go off and play happy families with someone else. But I’m not even mad anymore. I’ve been living with a pronounced sense of indifference to him for some years now. I guess I could, not like or understand, but accept that fathers leave families and that’s one level of scummy. But finding out that my father was more concerned with financial gain from his parent’s death than the actual death (and also depriving his first set of children further) is a bit jaw dropping for me. I think for my aunt and uncle as well. It makes me wonder what happened in his parenting that made him like that. My aunt and uncle are great people and their kids are all great as well. Moral, responsible, successful, working toward happiness and so on.

Of course it might not be anything. This has been weighing on my mind lately as my children get older. I don’t get on well with my mother and I am trying to figure out what she did to drive me away. I am so jealous of my cousins relationships with their mothers. I will never have that with my mother. It’s just too awkward and uncomfortable even if I were to bravely fake that level of camaraderie. I can hope and work to have that with my children though.

From all accounts my mother and I had a great parent-little kid relationship. At some point I grew to distrust her and dislike her and we will never be friends. I’m sure the things she was doing during the divorce didn’t help my opinion (she apparently knew my father was leaving her so she started enthusiastically sleeping around. Of course I had no idea what was going on in regards to my father and so I thought she was just being a bad person), and she did not deal well with my teenage years (I had little boundaries or discipline and nothing to rekindle trust in her. Frankly the only reason I turned out as ok as I did is because I had goals and I knew a pregnancy or arrest would interfere with my goals), also post divorce we were on welfare and poor, sometimes homeless. I have heard that girls drift from their mothers in their early teens and grow closer in their later teens. I had a tumultuous time with not understanding what my mother was going through in my early teens and then her not being relatable (I didn’t trust her, I would have never wanted to talk to her about anything scary or important. Still don’t really) in my later teens. I guess sometimes it can just be circumstance and a lack of following up. Of course I have heard tell that my father was a terrible teen and my grandparents kicked him out at one point. But all the time I was 12 and under we would go to my grandparent’s house and hang out with the rest of the family. So it’s not like he grew up and didn’t like them. Something eroded the closeness (in addition to distance) as an adult. Or perhaps he just chose his second family over his parents and siblings.

I just remember being three and a neighbor kid asked me if I liked my mother or father more, and when I was told I had to choose (kids can be mean) I cried because the idea of loving one of my parents less was too hard. I want my kids to have that forever. Oh I know that one or even both parents will go out of favor at times, but I want both of us to be important to them into their adulthood and beyond. Just today Thing 1 told me she wants to sit and cuddle with me forever (as I was grumbling at her for putting dinosaurs in my shirt and snuggling my arm while I was trying to eat breakfast). I hope I don’t take it too personally if she hates me every day during the teen years  (the closest she’s come at 3 is telling me that she’s not friends with me right now).


Expat life


So my grandfather is dying.

This was something we knew we would have to deal with when we decided to live overseas. We both have elderly grandparents with questionable health. I have a nearly 100 year old great-grandmother even.  We have more or less made our peace with it, but when the time comes you still aren’t sure what you will do.  I’m now toying with the idea of going back to see people, but then I have to bring a baby, but not a toddler, where will I stay, how will I get around, am I going to be in the way. I feel like I should come back to be supportive to those who aren’t dying, and also to say my in person goodbyes to the elderly.

We went back to see family two years ago and seeing my side of the family was…disappointing. I felt like we were ruining everyone’s routine the whole week we were there, and then we only got to visit with people who lived an hour or so away for one afternoon the day before we left.  We had arranged the visit months in advance and made sure everyone knew when we would be there. More than a minor let down and does not put me in a hurry to make a 20+ hour overseas journey with a small child to visit anyone anytime soon.

But here I am thinking about it.  I wonder if I’m being petty and I should just suck it up and travel, but then on the other hand,  hardly anyone makes an effort to call us overseas (and by call I mean Skype), and no one called Thing 1 for her birthday. I have sent every one of my cousins wedding and/or baby gifts over the past few years and have had no reciprocity.  Then I don’t feel so bad about not wanting to travel, just sad I can’t really justify it to myself.  Sure, we moved  far, far away, but no one seemed particularly determined to be close anyhow.

Overall we know there was a reason we felt ok about moving overseas. Every time I start to feel a little bad something happens like no one remembering to call for Thing 1’s birthday and I remember why we didn’t feel so bad about leaving.

I know I don’t want to go to a funeral, I would rather see the dying people before they die, but there are other logistical aspects to that. I certainly feel like I will get more flack for not going to a funeral even if  I go to visit before death.

Right now I’m thinking maybe just go for the 100th birthday and if dying grandfather is still alive, see him then. What a terrible rationalization.  Still, does he want to see me beyond Skype? People often become more isolationist when they become seriously ill, and I’m not able to be helpful by being there. I’m not even going to mention the cost.