[EtiquetteFilter] My mother and step
father divorced about 8 months ago. They had been together for 28 years. I have not heard from him since the split, and (due to the nature of the split) don't have that much interest in doing so. Now, his mother -- my former step-grandmother -- is dying.
posted by kaseijin to human relations (35 answers total)
First, a little background - some dirty laundry, if you will. Twelve years ago, my mother discovered that my stepfather had been cheating on her. A lot. For 15 years, in fact. With multiple people. At at least one point, he was carrying on 3 affairs at once.
Much of this was facilitated by his mother -- the step-grandmother in question. She acted as a clearing house for his affair-related mail, phone messages, and meetings...contending that such affairs were obviously the fault of my mother for not being a good enough wife. She acted in this capacity for all 15 of the years in question...outwardly being nice to my mother and myself, while privately helping her son destroy his marriage and our home life.
When all of this came out, there was quite the explosion. He begged, he pleaded, he sought forgiveness, and he and my mother went to counseling together and privately. Things actually worked out. After a couple of years, they seemed happier and tighter than they had ever been.
Fast forward to this past Christmas (Christmas day, in fact). After getting some bad gut-feelings, a mysterious venereal disease (he, a medical professional, suggested that she perhaps contracted it from a toilet seat), and discovering that significant amounts of money that should be in their bank account were not in said account (he had always handled the finances), she recruited my Google-fu.
We discovered that he had been funneling about $50,000.00 per year into a secret account. He had a secret mobile phone, two secret PO boxes, and a secret apartment. For at least the past year and a half, he had been seeing an area prostitute (escort) once a week. He had been writing fraudulent prescriptions for medication (opiates) to use himself. He had kept at least two longer-term affairs in the past 5 years. Though much of this was now taken care of without using his mother as a conduit, it has come out that she was pretty much in-the-know regarding most of it, save the prostitutes.
My mother was understandably devastated, and I was profoundly disappointed. When she confronted him about it, he denied it at first. When he finally admitted it, she filed for divorce immediately. He once again started the crying, pleading, begging for another chance and more counseling, proclaiming his love... She tossed him out. Good for her. She's a wonderful, kind, intelligent woman and she deserves much better. Since then, she's been healing, has picked her own healthcare career up where she left it (she works as director of admissions for a local facility that cares for the terminally ill), and has even attracted the attention of a few men.
Though my mother has made every effort to be her ex-husband's friend (which has been hard for her), and has had somewhat regular contact with him, I have not heard from him since the split. Until yesterday, that is. Apparently his mother is dying. Soon. And would I come to the hospital/funeral/etc. He said he's missed talking to me, but has been too ashamed to call.
His mother was always outwardly nice to me, generous at Christmas, all that. I never could quite shake the distinct feeling that I was her least favorite "grandchild" (qoutes because of the step-relationship), though, as she seemed to take no real interest in me on a personal level. And, of course, I then find out later about the whole facilitating-the-affairs-and-blaming-my-mother thing.
My question, then, is what my obligations to this woman and this family are? Maybe they don't mean me harm directly, but I certainly feel harmed by them. I do not doubt that my stepfather loved (and still loves) my mother - I really, really believe he did and does. I also believe he's in some dire fucking need of help, has some really unhealthy tendencies and addictions, and really don't think he has any place being married to my mother. More personally hurtful, for me, is the fact that he just disappeared from my life entirely without so much as a "goodbye," or "I'm sorry."
Do I have an obligation to these people? Should I go? Would it be utterly crass to just skip out on this?