M’s father passed away early this morning. While we have not seen him in almost 3 years, M has not spoken to him in more than 3 years, it is still a sad event and a milestone in our lives.

We are both from dysfunctional families, but since he was so different than my father, my father-in-law seemed so much more normal to me. Crotchety and with a hair-trigger temper when he grew frustrated or perceived you as disrespecting for disagreeing with him, I very quickly learned to simply be quiet and pleasant and avoid topics of conversation that would lead to such outbursts. M never judged me harshly for not adoring my father-in-law; he was all too aware of the complexities of trying to be a good son. The years passed, our relationship with my FIL and step-mother-in-law were mostly pleasant, holiday-oriented affairs. Until a few years ago, when FIL started having more health issues and MIL turned on M for disagreeing with her at to the care and feeding of her husband. He was not openly critical, but with these folks, asking a simple question was like an indictment against them.

The final straw was at the end of 2010, when they filed a restraining order against M. I suspect step-MIL thought we would simply do her bidding and let her have her way in this legal matter. She is a shallow, stupid woman who has never understood that her manipulations have serious and severe consequences. We did the only thing we could: we engaged an attorney and file a detailed response and appeared at the hearing. The two cases before us were disposed of in less than 10 minutes; ours both had lawyers, witnesses, and took a couple of hours of the court’s time. Depsite testimony from both FIL, step-MIL, and step-sisters-in-law, the judge ruled there was no basis for a restraining order against my husband.

Let me tell you, it was a truly awful experience to sit and listen to family members lie under oath.

After the hearing, FIL came up to me as if nothing unusual were happening to bring us all together. I hugged him for the last time  and told him I would miss him, and I meant it. I knew we would not meet again. On this day I am glad to have been the bigger, better version of myself, and not let this lost old man see and feel how enraged I was by soul-killing hurtful actions he had allowed to be unleashed upon my husband. In my heart I know he did not truly understand the actions and their consequences, or he would have put a stop to it.

The phone call this morning was the final confirmation of that hearing in February 2012, because M has mourned his father’s loss since that last meeting. We are still sad. I know when my mom died, the sense of relief and weirdness of knowing I had no more parents. M is experiencing a similar set of feelings right now, and while I wish I could do something to take his pain away, I get that we all have to endure this storm of emotions before we can have any sense of enduring peace.

We have no plans to attend any services, because M has absolutely no desire to put himself through the trauma of seeing step-MIL and her family. There is a quality of rage there that I understand all too well. M loves/loved his father, but now that he’s gone, our presence or lack thereof only fuels whatever gossip about M that would have been spoken anyway. Better we keep our distance, mourn alone and privately.

Rest in peace, Bill; you have certainly earned it.

12 thoughts on “Being orphans

  1. I am sorry for this news. Relationships are hard even under the best circumstances. And when they are strained the loss can be even harder to deal with. Xoxo to u both.

    1. Thanks, DebtGirl. It’s a weird place to be right now, but we are doing okay. After everything we have been through with his family, I was surprised how deeply we felt this news.

    1. Thanks, M. It’s a change in perspective, one we have been kinda/sorta living with for a few years now. Only now it’s final … no do-overs for us. That’s what always bothers me about death – the finality of it all.

  2. Hmm…familes are such a garbled mess sometimes. These things are never easy and sometimes you can only take them as they are.

    I’m sorry for yours and your husband’s loss.

    1. When applied to M and I and our families of origin, we think of them as messy minefields. We do/did the best with what we had, kept our distance when it seemed appropriate and then necessary. Now it’s about done. Thank you for your kind words.

  3. They say, “Nothing ever hoes away, until it teaches us what we need to know.”

    It’s interesting to read that the hug and encounter, was the last one between you guys and his father.

    That day must be bouncing around his thoughts today, and possibly for some time to come. I can understand why you guys decided to remain in your own realm, as opposed to participating in their toxic environment. The loss is difficult in and of itself, but if you went to see him now, you would not be able to mourn.

    Their energy would not make it possible. I genuinely bid your family well as this loss sets in. Losing him under these circumstances must be incredibly difficult, because for the past three years, you were not able to do a proper “sendoff.” May his father rest in paradise.

  4. I can relate and we’ll be in your shoes someday when my DH’s parents pass. We have not had any relationship with anyone in his family in almost 7 years…The day DH’s sister made the life changing decision to split the family apart I said to DH “well, we’ll end up loosing all you family now” and that is what, in the end, happened. I know it will be a hard time when his parents pass and I hope I can be as supportive as you are being for your hubby! Loss is hard, no matter the circumstances.

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