A personal post by Richard Bleil
To be honest, I probably shouldn’t be writing this. I know it will open me up to a lot of criticism, and to be fair, I’m not sure if there’s a point I’ll be making or if I’m just talking to help me clear my thoughts. But, I started this blog as an experiment in honesty, so, let’s be honest.
My sister called me yesterday. Roughly two years ago, my friend Sarah took me in when I was homeless and gave me shelter. That was the last time when I even heard from my sister, Kathy, who sent me a very long and protracted text basically telling me what a horrible human being I am, what an embarrassment I am to the family and how all of the dysfunction in my family is my fault. I’ll be honest; I couldn’t finish it. I read part of it, got the direction she was heading with it, and was not in a strong enough state of mind to finish it. I have a good friend who has constantly been trying to encourage me to repair my relationship with my family, which I don’t believe to be possible. I let her read it; she got about as far as I did before she, too, gave up.
Yesterday, I looked for it. It is gone from my phone.
But that’s not why she called. She is concerned about my father. At 88, according to her (and we’ll talk about that in a moment), she has decided that he’s ready to move on. Apparently, he has stopped taking his medications, stopped eating, refused home care and insists that he’s just going to die. He still lives at home, alone since mom died, and is apparently still intellectually sharp.
Now, I suggested above that I don’t know if I can trust my sister’s account. The problem is that she has always tried to manipulate me. Many years ago, I made an effort to regularly visit my family during the Christmas holidays, but when I did, I never felt particularly welcomed or appreciated. What’s more, the weather was always bad, and everybody was so busy that they didn’t have time for me anyway. So, one year, I decided it would make more sense to visit during the summers. This was a great insult in my sister’s eyes. Every year since then, for several years while my mom was still with us, my sister would tell me this story about how poor mom’s health is, and how “this will be last Christmas”. So, I honestly don’t know how much I can trust her about my dad.
Mom died when I was working in Rapid City. I had just started at the RCPD and had been there for only a couple of weeks. The department had bereavement leave, but probably not for somebody as new as I. Prior to this job, I was working a part-time job and really didn’t have money since I had lost everything I owned after the divorce. Recovering from a heart attack and triple bypass, my mother’s death was just something else to add to the pile. But my family didn’t tell me that she had died until after the funeral, the reason being that, according to them (my sister and father), I didn’t have to waste my money.
Our family has always had a very practical attitude about death. To be honest, because of my new job, I don’t know that I would have returned, but the thing that bothers me is that I wasn’t even given the option. They made up their mind, and I wasn’t invited to my own mother’s funeral.
Now, I’m stuck with a decision as to what to do about my father. Some of you have already decided that I need to go back, but it’s not such an easy choice for me. Dad decided (assuming my sister isn’t just trying to manipulate me) that he’s ready to die, but he didn’t want to talk with me about it. The last time I heard from my sister my friend was giving me a place to stay, but she didn’t ask me if I was back on my feet yet.
Knowing my dad as I do, I doubt that he would even want to see me, especially now. He hadn’t made an effort to reach out to me, and frankly neither has my sister, in all this time. This is, at least in part, why I’ve written them off so long ago, so, what do I do now? Do I jump back into the lion’s den and open myself up to their emotional abuse again just for one last attempt to make amends with my father, an attempt that would no doubt be doomed to failure? Or do I protect my emotional state and stay the course?
For my readers, if you have a close relationship with your family, or even a relationship with a chance, do what you can to save it. Take it from me, family is important. But your own emotional state is more important. I gave up on my family, and have been more or less disowned, because the scars are too deep, the pain is too real. I’m honestly stuck.