Lean On Me, Or Not

I guess when someone doesn’t want to spend time with you, there isn’t anything you can do about it. When it’s family, and you have been close in the past, it’s hard to let it go. When you have an elderly parent, who at this stage of his life only wants to be with his family, it’s even harder.

I realize that not all families are close. I realize that sometimes people need distance to find themselves. Our family, though, has always been civil and even loving, happy to take the time to get together on birthdays and holidays because we don’t live close enough to be able to casually just drop by. We do what we can to help each other, so it hurts when someone withdraws and says “don’t call me, I might call you but don’t hold your breath.”

In a long text I got from Barb today, that was the point. I am glad she is happy. I am glad she loves her husband and is supporting him in his quest for successful self-employment. I am glad she is finding “quality time to focus on [her] path.” I am sorry, though, that she declined to come out to eat with us for her birthday because they are “going out of town for a few days.” That’s the same excuse she gave for not wanting to come for Christmas. “We need to get away for a while.” Okay.

I think I sound bitter about the whole thing. I just don’t understand it. Dad is elderly, all alone, and the only thing he needs and wants from us is companionship and contact, and maybe some leftover meatloaf occasionally. He is hurt by her withdrawal.  That’s the thing about family, they are not only there for you when you need them, but you should be there for them. If I am dying, I don’t think I will be calling Barb to tell her.

I can’t understand living your life totally devoted to just one other person, your spouse, to the neglect of all others. Private is fine, reclusive is scary. If I see her occasionally, at a time of her own choosing, I guess that will have to be enough. I will try to resist the temptation to tell her I need to be out of town at that time.


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