My father passed away in April of 2012. I am the oldest of the four children and the only daughter.
My mother began dating a friend of the family just 6 months after my dad died and unbelievably has just announced they are getting married. I really don’t have an opinion on the marriage, except it does make me wonder if there was something going on all those years that they were friends. Whatever.
What does anger me is that this man will be moving into our family home in Santa Barbara when they get married in June and now my mom feels it is OK to get rid of my father’s clothes.
My three brothers all live out of town and have told her they aren’t interested in much beyond some tokens of remembrance such as a watch or tie. However, they have boys that may some day want these things. I have one daughter and do not intend to have more kids so obviously these items won’t be going to me or my child.
My opinion is my mom should store these items either in our family home or at least in storage until my nephews are of an age when they might want them. My mother disagrees. This is causing a rift between us and I am curious what your take is on the situation.
Dear Gloomy Glenda:
This is how your letter made me feel:
I am truly sorry for the loss of your father, especially since his death has made writing a funny blog today quite the challenge. I’ll do my best to persevere.
We chatted briefly last week and it was clear to me how much you loved and adored your dad. In a day and age when many fathers are absent or just plain terrible role models, your dad was an honorable, hardworking and loving parent who gave you a wonderful start in life. We need more dads like yours in the world.
Your parents had a happy marriage and your childhood was a good one. Your dad worked hard to make a beautiful life for you and your brothers and your mom ran the home until your youngest brother left for college, at which time she opened her own business and was doing pretty well.
And then, your dad got cancer.
Dad didn’t get the nice kind of terminal cancer that kills you quickly – no such luck. Instead, your dad had chondrosarcoma, a very rare, painful and debilitating bone and joint cancer that took 6 long years to kill him. Your mom gave up her new and much-loved career and was by his side every step of the way. When he couldn’t take any more steps, she carried him.
You obviously do have opinion on her remarriage and you are camouflaging your distress with indignation over what she does with meaningless remnants of a great man’s life. Your comment about “wondering” whether your mom and her fiancé were hiking the Appalachian Trail while your dad was still alive is frankly mean-spirited and doesn’t jibe with your account of their marriage and how utterly devastated your mom was when your father finally died.
Your mom is lucky to have found someone to love and since they have been dating for almost two years, I hardly think she’s rushing into this marriage. I can also understand why she wants to finally shed herself of your father’s clothes now that another man will be soon sharing her home.
By the way, your mom does not live in the “family home.” Your mom lives in HER home: the home in which you were lucky enough to grow up and which she now can share with whomever she pleases. She is also free to make decisions about what contents are in the home, so you need to stand down.
Similarly, your brothers are entitled to make decisions about what they want from your dad’s closet. Here’s my advice in a nutshell: if you want to keep your father’s possessions, keep them.
Wow, it took me over 870 words to state the obvious. That must be some sort of record.
You are clearly still grieving the loss of your dad, but focusing on things is not going to alleviate your sadness or allow you to process your hostility towards your mother’s impending marriage. Here’s what I think (duh):
You grew up in a tight-knit and loving family. This is something you are very proud of and since your father’s death you have experienced an identity crisis because you feel this unit is no longer intact. Instead of accepting the reorganization of your family and thereby moving past the pain of losing your dad, you choose to focus on irrelevant things. Why not? It’s certainly easier than facing the inescapable truth that your family life as you know it is over.
Unfortunately, you are closing yourself off to a new family structure and alienating your mom at the same time. Don’t you think she has been through enough? Don’t you think she deserves some happiness after years of vomit, piss and shit in her bed?
Your mother falling in love and wanting to remarry does nothing to negate your happy childhood or shed suspicion on her fidelity to your dad. Try to get outside your own head for a while and see things from her perspective. Be honest with yourself about what is really going on here, because it sure as hell isn’t about a bunch of old clothes.
My suggestion is you take your father’s possessions and donate them to charity. Then go grab a bottle of wine, sit at his grave and say goodbye. I don’t believe in heaven, but if I’m wrong (ha!) I imagine your dad is sitting on the iCloud with Farrah Fawcett and looking down in joy at the second chance of love your mother has been given. He’s probably trying to get a little piece of Farrah too.
Let go and be open and accepting to your new family. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did. If not, I offer a money-back guarantee so be sure to send complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org