I find myself in a bit of a spot, dear readers, and I’m wondering what you all think.
Last night, my cell phone rang. It was my cousin Sheryl who, aside from my sister, is the only blood relative I have any kind of contact with.
My first thought was “who’s dead?”
It turns out that Sheryl was visiting her father – my uncle – for his birthday and, during the course of her visit, had occasion to spend some time with our grandmother (our fathers’ mother).
Gram has never understood the rift between my biological parents and me, despite my repeated attempts to explain and Sheryl’s (spectacularly failed) efforts several years ago to get both sides to a place where reasoned, mature diologue could happen (after a couple of months, she gave up and conceded that I was right – there WAS no talking to these people).
Gram, it seems, is starting to come around, and mentioned to Sheryl that she thinks she might have a better understanding, after spending time with Sheryl’s teenage daughter, of how badly my own childhood was handled. Sheryl, in her concise, Downeaster Maine way, put it thus: You were a kid. You were acting your age. Your parents were not.
ANYWAY, in the course of the conversation, Gram mentioned that my father had expressed to her a deep longing to have some sort of connection to my daughters (though, conspicuously, nothing was said about whether he wanted to reconnect with ME). Gram told Sheryl that my father has access to her email account and wondered if Sheryl would ask me to send some pictures that my father could see without my mother’s knowledge.
My first instinct was to say “fuck, no!” but I backed off of that as I thought about it a little more. My father is in terrible health and, if his past is any indication of his present, he’s profoundly isolated. I started to feel a little compassion and sympathy for him and thought, maybe, I’d send Gram a few new snapshots of the girls.
The more I think about it, though, the more I’m circling back to “fuck, no.” The fact of the matter is that this man isn’t man enough to come to ME to ask. In fact, he stated, on no uncertain terms, that he was completely done with me and that, in his mind, the only daughter he had was the one who died at birth (and yes, they actually said that). He’s had nothing to do with me for nearly ten years, and has made no effort whatsoever to contact me in any way. Sheryl’s efforts to get us together were met with stubborn and self-righteous resistance on their side (I was willing, though cautiously, to meet halfway in a safe and neutral place with a disinterested mediator). He was openly hostile to her, in fact, and I have heard, through one or two roundabout sources, that he’s had nothing nice to say about me to anyone who’d listen for quite some time now.
My door has been firmly shut, but it’s never been locked. I can’t help feeling compassion for this man, who’s been too weak to stand up for what HE wants in the face of his wife, but I also feel a fair bit of contempt for him, as well. If he wants to see my kids, he’s going to have to do some work with ME first. Until then, I think I’ll send email notes to my grandmother, but no pictures.