My father’s European parents (not close to me) had helped him buy an apartment when he separated from my mother.
They then convinced him that he should date and marry an older woman of their choosing.
He did, and she was what I feared a “step-mother” would be - cold and mean to me. And my father allowed it, which was worse.
It hasn’t been a great father-daughter relationship since I was that child.
I’m now 30. We live far from each other, and when I’m in his city to see relatives, I sometimes don’t even call him.
Other times, we’ve had a brief conversation by phone or met for a quick coffee, never at his place.
Recently, he reached out and asked me to have a conversation with him via Skype.
I don’t know what he has in mind, or if I should even expose myself to this rare chat.
What do you think?
Wicked Step-Mother Story
You have nothing to lose by seeing him and communicating on Skype. And maybe (only maybe), a re-connection to gain.
Let him speak first. If he’s hesitant, draw him out – his interests, his work, whatever.
Then ask what he has on his mind regarding you.
If it’s just to reach out, appreciate the gesture. It’s better than none.
If there’s a request for help, ask for details and say that you’ll get back to him soon. Then consider what you can handle in time, cost, and emotions.
My husband, 71, was the product of a teen pregnancy, raised by his grandmother, “fostered out” during his school years.
His mother dropped in and out of his life, visiting occasionally. He’s never known anything about his father and has no known siblings.
When we met (second marriage for both), we occasionally visited her.
After she lost her mother and her long-term partner, there was some disagreement with my husband over a lawn mower.
She cut him out of her life for 20 years.
Four years ago, she suddenly contacted us, wanting to “get her affairs in order.” She said she had no debts, owned her house, etc.
They reconciled. She was in frail health and we had to take charge of her needs.
We moved much closer, and my husband’s her 24/7 caregiver. He’s there almost daily looking after her, shopping, etc. We often send her food.
She’s 90, on a very limited income, with a little money in the bank.
He’s obtained Powers of Attorney and can act as her agent for bills, utilities, income tax, etc. He’s named on her bank accounts, but not on the house title.
She’s done nothing about getting her will done/updated. She says there’s a “partial will” (likely not done by a lawyer).
When my husband raises the issue, she gets very stubborn.
I think he’s afraid she’ll banish him again, although there’s no one else to help her.
She has a serious heart condition, but the specialist says that an operation and the anxiety would probably do her in.
She’s been told she may have six months to a year, or so.
She’s been distanced since she was a pregnant teen. Her strong will is no surprise.
There are legal consequences to dying without a will. The information’s available online, to read to her.
However, she’s in control here. She has the right to leave her house to whomever/whatever she wants.
Your husband’s care giving and your help is by choice, and generous. That’s its own reward.
Anything else is up to her.
FEEDBACK Regarding the brother who wants his father to sell his business to him, not his brother, too (November 25):
Reader – “The theoretical insight you provide doesn’t deal with the reality faced by the brother who’s trained and works in his father’s business field.
“I’m a sibling who’s seen a business run into the ground by the favoured child who only wanted money. I can affirm the obvious:
“The union that you suggest will lead to more damaging events.”
Ellie – My column priority is relationships, and this Solomon-like choice is distressing the father who, if the two brothers can’t agree, will sell the business to a stranger.
So, it’s a lose-lose for the skilled brother whose contempt for his sibling was greater than any interest in compromise. He even resents his father about this offer to both!
The sibling rivalry history in this family overshadows the brother’s skills training.
Tip of the day:
Resume contact with an estranged father slowly and carefully.