15 November 2007

Why My Dad Made The Decision, Part 2

"I believe that more unhappiness comes from this source than from any other--I mean from the attempt to prolong family connections unduly and to make people hang together artificially who would never naturally do so." ~ Samuel Butler

I didn't see my dad for about a year before he died. He'd been married before he met my mom and had a son from that marriage. They never had a relationship while his son (Shannon) was growing up. My father liked to cry and feel sorry for himself about it every once in a while.

I spoke with my parents for an hour every day after I moved out of their house. A year before Dad checked out, he started calling me a couple of times every day, haranguing me to get in touch with Shannon. It was critical to the development of their relationship. My father had always made me feel that he'd sacrificed having a boy to provide financially for me. When I was a little girl, I believed it was my fault. It made me angry. It bruised my soul.

I've never had any interest in getting to know Shannon. I resented him, the Golden Child left behind. I do not feel connected to him. For me, sharing a genetic link doesn't imply a relationship, although it's likely that Shannon is possessed by the same madness that infected my father and everyone else in his family. Why would I invite that into my life? It's a terrifying possibility.

Furthermore, I thought my father used his blossoming relationship with his son to carry on with his first wife. Before he started nagging me about it, my father had gone to the state where his son and ex lived (and where virtually all of my father's family lived) for a visit. He stayed at his ex-wife's house and my mom stayed at my aunt's house. When I found out about that, I was enraged. I didn't want to do anything that would encourage that kind of behavior.

My dad didn't have a lot of good things to say about Shannon, most notably, that he had a drinking problem. I've had a rule since I was a teenager: I don't have relationships with addicts who aren't in recovery. I was very ill at the time and the thought of receiving some of those 3:00 a.m. phone calls that alcoholics like to make ratcheted up my already-high anxiety level.

Nonetheless, I finally gave in. I called Shannon and left a message.

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