The bond between father and son should not be broken by Tina Andrews .....

Date:   7/12/2006 9:29:41 PM ( 15 y ago)
Popularity:   message viewed 1082 times

Since the death of my Dad known as Harpo to most of you, I have been trying to encourage my husband to reach out to his father, who is still living.

About 23 years ago he chose not to be in our lives. He was not thrilled to have a Christian California free spirit woman as myself for a daughter-in-law, but I think he could have learned to live with it. His wife, my husband's step mother, dictated how I should live my life, what I should wear, how I should style my hair (I have long curly unkept hair, a look I like). She wanted me to have weekly trips to the beauty salon to have my hair and nails done. (I play piano so I have no nails; I prefer them to be very short)She was quite outspoken about it.

My husband's family insisted we should get married in a Jewish temple. My husband's family was supposed to come from NY to our wedding so I scrubbed and cleaned our apartment only to have none of them come. As a result only my family and friends (all Christians were at the wedding). There were only two Jewish people my husband and the rabbi present. Unfortunately, we made the decision to move away from San Francisco; we got an apartment in Brooklyn. This was a big adjustment as it was too close to my husband's family in Queens. Suddenly they were in our lives in a very big way. They dictated what kind of place we should rent; what type of job my husband should have and where I should raise our family. It was overwhelming.

After the birth of my first child, my mother in law came to visit me at the hospital boasting how after she gave birth she went down to a size 2 and could zip her dresses (implying that somehow I was a fat cow..even though I was under 125 lbs. at the time) Then she came unannounced to our apartment to tell me a good wife should always have a brisket ready to serve her guests at a moment's notice and sadly I was unprepared (the fact that I was a nursing mom with no help from the family or babysitters to assist me didn't matter).

My mother died in 1984; oddly enough only one day after coming to New York to visit us and her new grandchild in our Brooklyn apartment. I am devastated. I had such big plans for us. I had bought theatre tickets; we were going to go sightseeing. I was going to show her all of Manhattan, all the museums, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Circle Line cruise, World Trade Center, . I finally felt I would be able to get close to my Mom. She was very disappointed that I had not been married sooner, that I had chosen a musical rather than a medical career. I was going to make it up to her. I thought she would fall in love with her granddaughter and all would be forgiven. She never had the chance.

My husband calls his family to tell them the terrible news of my mother’s sudden unexpected death. My mother-in-law tells my husband "Too bad Tina didn't die." I was on the extension and heard this. Then she says "Why should I care if her mom died I never met the woman." She argues with him, states shame on me for not inviting her over to dinner to meet my Mom. He tries to explain that we didn't have a chance to do this as my mom had died but she finds that to be a weak excuse.

A few days later my husband’s family come to visit us but not my father-in-law and his wife. They are still pouting. His family comments perhaps my Mom died from Aids, a hunch they had because she was from San Francisco. It disgusted me. They freely discuss in front of me how I should collect and spend my inheritance. They think we need a new car, a microwave etc. They fuss over my husband, the poor man must be hungry, since his wife is grieving and has no energy to cook. They bring him single servings of food to eat and label it ..this is for Monday, this is for Tuesday etc. as if I don't need to eat nor does our child.

Years move on I have three more children. My in-laws do not acknowledge their births or us. We are outcasts. We go on with our lives. As a result my children never experience grandparents. My Dad was disgusted I had married “a Jew” and assumed I had abandoned Jesus Christ. My in-laws are upset with him for marrying a goy.

This weekend we went to a family wedding. My in-laws were present. They chose not to greet or acknowledge us. My children courageously approached and introduce themselves to them. They were speechless.My husband went over to their rescue. They scolded him for never calling them. I overheard this; I wanted to scream why did you never call; why did you choose to abandon us.

Now that they are old and very feeble it did not seem proper to fight with them especially at the joyous and public occasion as a wedding. I spoke to them briefly. I told my mother in law how beautiful she looked; her comment back was "I Know", she stared at what I was wearing (casual black skirt and white jacket with black trim...not a formal evening gown so I guess very disappointing).I think she was dumbfounded so she said nothing. I appreciated her silence. My hair was loose and my nails were not polished. I told her how marvelous her grandchildren were boasting of their accomplishments in less than 2 minutes and then other family members tried to help us in the conversation.

Everyone felt the tension. For the rest of the evening they ignored us. Our table was far away from them. Finally my husband asked his father to join us and his reply was not until you call. Instead of enjoying the time they had together that evening he was still complaining. He went on and on about how much my husband had hurt him, never thinking how it might have been him who had shut us out of his life. He seemed not to remember the many times I called him and his wife chose to not let him get on the phone instead scolding us for being such miserable terrible children. He was never man enough to take the phone away from her or at least call us back when she was not home. He does not realize how much he lost. Instead he could only think of his daughter's two children and how much they meant to him.

This man had six grandchildren but only chose to love two of them. Now that they are grown I wonder if he realizes his loss. I am supposed to forgive him for what he has done. As a mother I don't think I can do this, but this man is not my father, my husband needs to deal with this and try to resolve this matter before he dies. I have always encouraged that the two of them have conversations and stay in touch.

The women in their lives have no right to break their father and son bond, but somehow both these men are very much the same ...stubborn and I dare say weak. My husband's father did not even invite his only son and daughter to his wedding; only his wife's family and friends were invited. He married only a year after his wife died. I think he was afraid to live alone. My husband then 18 suddenly had no place to live as his father chose to live with his new wife; she made it clear she had no room for him. It forced him to grow up and get on with his own life.

My husband is a gentle soul who goes along with whatever transpires. He does not like confrontations. Recently he admitted he has always felt distance from his father. He felt he was never involved with his life. He told me it wasn’t me who had torn them apart; they have never been close. I am the excuse, the scapegoat. They do not know how to talk to each other. Time is running out. I hope they can learn.


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