I have a regular routine these days for when I see my Dad. Usually Wednesday and sometimes Friday as well; this week it was a Thursday as I had swapped a work day for a colleague. I go to his place about 10.30 and my stepmama goes out. Grocery shopping, coffee with a friend, a long walk – all things she needs to do in order to get a little respite. I take Dad on a few little errands if he is feeling up to it and then we come back and I make him lunch, we drink a glass of Guiness together (again, if he feels up to it) and then he has an afternoon sleep. It’s sweet and comforting and banal but we all get a great deal of pleasure out of it.
This week things have been a little different. My younger brother has flown out from Hong Kong, with his six year old daughter, to spend time with my father. Younger brother has always felt resentful of the close bond the rest of the family has and has a big chip on his shoulder about it. Throughout his life he has chosen to make issues and has fought with every member of the family, alienating us all at one point or another. But what price family? We always try to take the easier path with him, rather than stir up his unpleasantness, but he can be very hurtful. It is not an exaggeration to say that he has been estranged from my father for quite a few years. But with the cancer diagnosis he seemed to get over things and started being a close, loving son again and it gave my father so much pleasure.
This week that he is supposedly spending time with his dying father, he has chosen to stay away two days with an old family friend some hours drive away. The rest of the family have been fuming about this but we have all bitten our lips: the most important thing is that my dad gets to have a wonderful time with him. The first visit apparently went well but the next day things blew up.
My dad told my brother that he was leaving his watch to his son-in-law (my stepmama’s daughter’s husband, who he is close to) and my brother hit the roof. Said that he had no right to do that, that the watch was part of the family estate and that son-in-law wasn’t even family. He went back to my mother’s place, where he is staying, in a sulk. Yesterday he didn’t even bother to call my dad, let alone see him.
My dad was so upset by it that he told me. I am furious, absolutely raging. I don’t give a stuff about the rights or wrongs of it (personally, I think that whatever my dad has acquired over the years he can do what he damn well likes with – none of us have any RIGHT to it), but I do care that my father is distressed.
I want to slap my brother senseless. My dad has begged me to not bring it up with him and I have reluctantly agreed. We are having a family gettogether Saturday night and it will be the last one with all of us there so it makes sense to go along and placate my brother yet again. I don’t want to, though.
My husband suggested that I shouldn’t keep talking about it as it would only refuel my anger so I am writing it out here, in the hope that it will prove cathartic. I will probably change this post to private later on but right now I would like the whole world to read it. I was fully expecting my brother to behave badly about possessions after my father is dead but I had thought he would behave decently up until then.
Seeing my dad’s hurt makes me want to cry for him.