So of course, this Sunday is Father’s Day. It also happens to be the day of a midsize family picnic with my mom’s side of the family, since that was the only day that my cousin could reserve the park. While my parents are separated, over the last seven years they’ve built up a more friendly relationship which means that Dad is usually invited for the holidays and is often invited to gatherings such as the upcoming picnic.
Unfortunately, my dad has a massive ball and chain (more like a noose that tightens every day) — his mother, my other grandmother. When my grandfather died in 2002, my grandmother turned to my dad as the “only person” she had left in her life and became a constant drain on his time and energy. Yes, to be disregarded as a source of support and comfort to a family member who I loved very dearly at that time is insulting, but the worst part of it for me was that we had always had a shaky foundation in our home life, with our dad, and now what little time he otherwise had for us was being taken up in its entirety by a needy and bitter geriatric. On a Saturday afternoon it could be 2:00 pm and he would be sleeping — “Dad, can we do X activity or go Y place?” “Later, I’m sleeping.” But let her call and he would be up in minutes to go over there and do her bidding.
Perhaps I shouldn’t begrudge her his help to the extent that I have; after all, she lost a husband and a son within three years of one another, and in terms of her original nuclear family unit my dad really was the only one left. Still, the problems only got worse when my parents split in 2004 and he moved in with her full-time. Since then, her overall condition has deteriorated to a point that she is hardly recognizable as the grandmother with whom I grew up, aside from her propensity to tell the same stories over and over again.
The last year or so has been an ongoing saga with her. She is needy and whiny and belligerent, so convinced of her own rightness in situations where her memory has clearly failed her that she is willing to make liars of everyone around her just to emerge the victor. I keep my distance and try very hard to have no contact with her whatsoever…but of course, the only way for my dad to come to this family picnic is if he brings along his own penance.
Maybe it means I’m immature, and maybe some people will castigate me for being less than totally sympathetic to the sufferings of an old and senile woman, but speak to her for a minute and you’ll understand where I’m coming from when I say that it’s a tough call whether or not to even attend, even if it means that I don’t get to see my dad.
Oh well. At least my future in-laws will be there.