Ordinarilly, I would joke about how we put the “fun” in dysfunction. Not so much today, however.
A month or so ago my father-in-law had a fatal heart attack behind the wheel of his car, crashed through a couple of fences and died on the spot. This happened around noon. We got a text from my sister-in-law in another state about six hours later that stated, “I’m sure you’ve already heard Pa’s dead.”
Nobody called us. Not his mom, not his brother. NOBODY.
My one remaining brother-in-law was tasked, per my husband’s mom, to call a few select people regarding the old man’s death. My two sisters-in-law and my husband and I were not on that list. Our nephew was called, and he, of course, called his mom, and that is how we found out.
Apparently, in sick old seniors’ minds, they had forgotten about the many times over the past year that my husband had driven out there to do home improvements for them. My MIL stated that if we couldn’t come when the old man was alive, none of us deserved to be around at his passing. WTactualF is that about?
I contacted our aunt, who lives next door to J’s parents to ask her just that. She told me that the old man had some funny ideas and that my MIL was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Okay. We bought that.
The following day, our aunt texted us about the memorial service arrangements that would be held on the in-law’s property the following Saturday. She’d asked my MIL if she could pass that info along to the other three kids. She was told that she could, but that we were all probably so mad at her that we wouldn’t want to go.
That opened a door for my husband to walk through, so he called his mom, told her nobody was angry at her, that we were all sorry for her loss and that we would see her at the service. A few more words were exchanged, and she actually hung up on him. (???)
A few hours later, she called him back and told him we were not welcome at the service, and that our daughter wasn’t, either, because she’d snubbed them at our local WalMart store. Not exactly feasible, as she lives on the other side of the county, and doesn’t shop at our store, so a perceived slight. He told her that she was tired and speaking out of grief and encouraged her to sleep on it and call him the next day.
That’s when she told him she’d slept on it and that none of us were welcome, that we were dead to her and to have a nice life. 😳
So in one fell swoop my husband lost both parents. Just like that.
At that point, once we got over the initial shock, we thought to invite all of the “outcasts” to our house for wings and beer at the same time as the service. My sister-in-law, her daughter, a couple nephews, my step-daughter, her SO and our grandson came and we had a lovely time. We all reconnected and it was healing for all of us.
I won’t speak of things that I didn’t experience, but I will say that my husband’s family defined dysfunctional when the kids were growing up. Some of the things he and his sisters have told me about their family life have both curled and straightened my hair. Granted, I grew up in a Cleaver or “Father Knows Best” kind of family, I was admittedly sheltered, but these things? Maybe it’s just better that the three offspring not in their father’s “good graces” cut their losses and move on.
Death makes family foes, oftentimes, and this was an extreme case.
All of that said? The old man’s passing brought many of us closer, and for that? I am thankful.
For the rest of you? If you have a healthy family? Cherish them!