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Author Topic: Grandfather's funeral planned to exclude
Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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ISSUE: I'm currently trying to deal with the slow demise of my maternal grandfather in Arkansas, about 6 hours drive from Dallas by car. He's the only grandfather that I have (i.e. the only grandparent that I have that hasn't been deceased for awhile, and the man who made it possible for me to be financially secure and debt-free).

On Monday night, my mother and I piled into a car with Theron (five months old of car-hating, crying baby) and drove to Arkansas to say our good-byes. Then we quickly piled back in the car Tuesday afternoon so that I could return to Dallas in time to teach Wednesday morning at 7:15 AM and my mother could babysit Theron, my son.

Now, and this is the particularly gunky part, we're just waiting for him to pass away so that we can pile in a car and drive to the funeral. It feels weirdly sterile and awful. The situation is complicated by the fact that my grandfather was married twice. The first marriage was fairly awful, but produced two daughters, my mother and her sister. The second marriage, which happened when my mother was a junior in college, was to a relatively poor widow who had four children. My father treated those children (and their 30+ children) as his own. My mother, her sister, and their four children are really his only blood relatives, which shouldn't matter since he was always so inclusive and loving with my step-grandmother's "kids" (now in their forties and fifties).

Unfortunately, the fact that all the wills have been signed and all inheiritance topics are resolved, with my grandfather now unable to communicate, seems to have revealed a rift between the two families that I suppose was always there. My step-uncles and step-aunt just don't seem to care about him at all. Organizations like Hospice, that might help ease his pain, they deride. They don't want the nursing home doctor called in to see my grandfather because "if he hasn't had liquid in seven days, he'll die anyway, so there's no point in anyone wasting time on it". They clamor around their mother, my step-grandmother, and then make these rapid-fire decisions about my grandfather's demise and the funeral.

My "relatives" are (even before he's passed on), apparently eager to plan a funeral on a day I absolutely can not attend. Why does Monday hold such allure for them? They exchange all of these phone calls about the funeral, but seem unconcerned that he's in a room dying, alone! Only two of the four have been to his room to see him during this month (including the time we were alerted to "say our good-byes"), yet the ones who haven't seen him seem to have the most sway in the decision-making.

I feel so guilty to be so fixated on trying to grade for the classes I teach and keeping a normal schedule for Theron during this time. I've written a...eulogy, I guess. My "relatives" have now planned to have the nursing home pastor speak and do a general sermon because "that's easiest". This is the man who came into their lives and was decent, good and caring. He was honest and even gave them the opportunities that helped make them independently wealthy! This is the man who paid for their kids' educations and helped them with their houses' down-payments. He was a wonderful, intelligent, gentle man. They seem to see him as just an impediment now that his money's allocated.

I want to go to the funeral. I want to be able to feed my son and not have to spend six hours trying to keep him from howling. I want to keep from exploding at my relatives. What do I do?

Edited to 1) replace pronouns with more specific and proper nouns and 2) to clarify meaning.

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Jocko's Jolly
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Your mom might be able to try to contact your step-grandmother to offer her/your help with the final arrangements, but other than that, there's not a whole lot that I can think of. You could always hold a memorial service for him for your side of the family if you truly feel you're being excluded. It may just be that the "kids" are concentrating so much on easing things for their mother they haven't stopped to think about anyone else right now. Or they could just be jerks. Either way, this is not the time to make a scene.

It sounds like your grandfather either didn't make his personal wishes known as to final arrangements, or else this is what he wanted. Since your step-grandmother is his wife, she does get the final say in everything. Sometimes the only thing you can do is be gracious and try not to cause anyone else any more grief than is necessary.

ETA: Sorry, I didn't address the escheduling issue too well there. You could pull aside (or call up) one of the "kids" and tell him/her that you'd really like to be able to go to the service, if there's any way that they could make it on [insert convenient day]. It may be that they're going with the Monday because that's the one day they are all available, or the best day for the nursing home or some reason OTHER than trying to inconvenience you. Or, as I said earlier, they're just jerks like that.

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Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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Starla
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I wish I knew what you should do, ArrowTech! How truly awful. Your grandfather deserves so much better. Can your mom put her foot down about the funeral arrangements? Perhaps she would hold more sway than you do. It's not like you care about alienating these people anymore, right?

I'm so sorry you're losing your grandpa. That's a very difficult thing. He sounds like a special man.
(((((hugs)))))

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This used to be the life, but I don't need another one.
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Troberg
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Explode at your relatives. It sure sounds like that's exactly what they need.

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/Troberg

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Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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ETA: Thank you for your support and sympathy. I REALLY appreciate it.

I'm both tempted to explode and afraid of what I'll do/say. I have a nuclear temper. Sometimes it's funny, really, because about once every two or three years, I'll hit a situation that feels untenable and (metaphorically) burn the offensive "bridges" in a tremendous verbal firebombing.

And I'm trying to be more mature now, but I'm simmering. Maybe I shouldn't go to the funeral, but my mother NEEDS to go to the funeral...and I'll always regret it if I don't. I may ask my Mom to carefully see if she can get the date changed. She's his oldest daughter and really deserves to be able to attend her father's funeral.

Instead of going nuclear, though, my mother gets depressed, and I'm a little scared that she'll spiral downhill and be unable to explain what's going on rationally (just a storm of tears from her when she's upset, usually).

Edited to change three words.

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Forgotten Fay
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I'm so sorry your grandfather is passing. I know what it's like to know a loved one, a grandparent as well, is fading. Just the opposit happened to us though. No one wanted anything to do with planning the funeral, so it all landed on my mother. I suggest you talk to your mom and have her step forward. She deserves to beable to go to his funeral. Have her gently, and sternly remind them that she is his daughter too. You and your family are in my thoughts.

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ange84
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Good luck with it all. It's a terrible thing when all of this happens when someone has passed on or is going to. We went through similar things last year when my great grandmother passed away. Perhaps you and your Mum need to make a united front against the relatives , put a foot or two down. As his child your Mum deserves to have input.

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Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Thank you. I think I'm handling this better now. My grandfather is still hanging on. It seems incredible. How long can you go without water before your body shuts down? I'd always heard that it was seven or eight days at the most.

Anyway, my grandfather's hated having Parkinson's and what led to this current situation is that his swallow reflex failed. He does have a legal document in place that specifies no life-saving measures, including an IV. It does allow for measures to be introduced that will block pain. He is/was a proud man, an independent man. He'd hate all this, and he'd care less about a stupid funeral than he would the fact that, even if revived, he couldn't communicate with anyone. He'd just be trapped again inside his body.

So, that's what's important, him. My bitterness is just that, me being angry because there are things that I can't control. My little bit of frustration isn't anything compared to what he's felt as he's lost control of his body over the years.

So, I need to think about how he'd want me to treat the people that he's loved in his life. I need to learn a lot more self-control and try to view their actions in the most positive light. After much persuasion, my grandmother has signed the papers for Hospice and she's also finally requested that the nursing home doctor give him a thorough exam (and why a nursing home doctor five minutes away from his room didn't do this before is a serious question).

My grandfather would want to pass out of this life without pain. He loved being active in the world, and this existence would be intolerable for him. I need to let go. I need to hope that he passes soon, and to remember that the funeral itself isn't important to him at all.

I'm trying to say it enough here that I'll stop wanting to be angry. Being angry is my default reaction when I'm hurt. I've got to let go.

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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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It's okay to be angry. You have a lot to be angry about with how all of this has unfolded. You feel what you feel and can't help that.

Instead of trying to fight it and repress it, can you find a safe outlet to express it, instead? Punch a pillow or stuffed animal, go running, scream into a pillow...just something to get it out? If you bottle it up, I'm afraid it might build up more and more and make it harder for you to heal and move on later.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. It's not easy, but you'll get through it.

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Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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My grandfather died this morning at 2 AM. He slipped away peacefully. The toxicity in his kidneys from being without liquid for so many days apparently caused them to stop working.

After she heard of his death, my grandfather's sister, who was also hospitalized with a lung fungus and had been told she was terminal, elected to be put on a morphine drip and a sedative so that she could slip into a coma and die peacefully.

My step-grandmother, who really is my grandmother in every way that counts, seems to have regained her own voice and told her children (my aunts and uncles) to stop their flurries of phone calls and hurry to plan my grandfather's funeral. Since his sister is still lingering in the coma, she is waiting and will schedule a funeral when everyone who wants/needs to attend can attend.

Having my grandfather gone makes this world seem a little emptier. He was a man of such strength and determination, a "provider" with the pragmatism typical of a man born during the Great Depression. But he was also a man who appreciated the outdoors and loved his family.

When I was a child, he would crush a big peppermint stick and rock me in this carved wooden chair (that had its own merry Germanic face in the wood) while feeding me bits of peppermint. He lived next to a cliff and, when I was older, he'd get this big wooden tree limb with a smooth, round top as his walking stick and we'd go on cliff walks. I felt so precarious, like I was walking on the edge of the world, but he was always right there, guiding me over the next rough bit and steering me back on the trail, so that we'd finish the walk hundreds of feet lower, down by the river below their house. He'd point out fish or birds in the water and talk to me in the quiet and calm, like we were the only two people in the world.

He hated the fact that Parkinson's made him lose the ability to take the walks that he loved, or to even go to the refrigerator to pick out a strawberry for a snack. He loved to eat strawberries in heavy cream. In fact, he had such a sweet tooth that when we went out to eat, he'd split an entree with my grandmother, but each would order a full dessert.

The Parkinson's progressed and he gave up more to the disease. Eventually, they couldn't get him into a bathroom anymore. They had this potty/stool that he'd have to use in the living room, and it took three people to maneuver him onto it. He'd close his eyes during the entire procedure, I think because that was the last bit of modesty he could find. He had been such a private, independent man. He lost so much.

It infuriates me that when he was diagnosed eighteen years ago doctors told him that they were only five years away from a cure. He believed, with that strong, unshakeable belief that comes from desperation, that he would be cured for so many years, even while the disease progressed. Then the day came that my grandmother had to give up trying to take care of him at home. Even with helpers, it was just too much, so she put him in a nursing home. I think then it finally hit him that he was going to die without taking another walk.

Fury against a disease -- that's a fury I can channel. I can donate to The Parkinson's Foundation or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

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Jenn
Layaway in a Manger


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I'm so sorry. It sounds like he was a wonderful grandfather and you have many memories to cherish. At least now he's free of the disease that so reduced his quality of life.

Good for your grandmother for telling her kids to knock it off. I'm sure you will be there to support her if they try to bully her over arrangements again.

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"You're the opposite of troll. It's a compliment!"

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Starla
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Thank you for sharing those memories of your grandpa with us, ArrowTech. My thoughts are with you while you deal with the loss of such an amazing man.

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This used to be the life, but I don't need another one.
MyBandwagon

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wanderwoman
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I'm sorry for your loss, Arrow-Tech. It sounds like you were fortunate to have him in your life. My heart goes out to you and your family.

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"But I'm adding this to my reasons why I never really liked really good looking men much. Sheesh, what good is good looking if you have to stuff a sock in his mouth." - Sara at home
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Dear Babby
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My sympathies. I'm glad your grandma is taking charge of the funeral plans in a positive way.
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Algae
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I'm sorry, Arrow-Tech. Lots of {{{hugs}}} for you and your family.

Your grandfather sounds like such a wonderful man.

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Alcohol and calculus don't mix. Don't drink and derive!

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Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Thank you, everyone. I really appreciate it. We'll be going up Thursday for the funeral that afternoon. This thread has really helped.
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Ms. Kringle
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I'm late in coming into this thread, but I'm so sorry for the loss of your grandfather, and I'm glad that your grandmother found her voice, and put an end to the bickering and exclusion.

Lots of hugs, vibes, and prayers coming your way from California.

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Beware corporate zombies! They will purchase your brain on E-Bay!

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Auntie Witch
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Another latecomer, with my sympathy, Arrow. I'm glad your grandma came around.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
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Dog Friendly
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And another. I suspect there are more than a few of us who read this thread, but couldn't think of anything meaningful or helpful to add. You have all our love and support.

Kilgore Trout

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"Nobody ever got stoned and beat up his old lady" -- Spence, snapdragonfly's friend

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Nonny Mouse, on Santa's laptop
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Another "didn't know what to say" latecomer. Good on your grandmother for speaking up, though it's a shame she was put in the position of having to. I'm sure she had enough grief and stress to deal with without her offspring adding more.

You, and she, are in my thoughts.

Nonny

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glass papaya
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Sympathies from Wisconsin, Arrow-Tech. I am glad to see you will be able to attend the funeral.
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Berry Well
The First USA Noel


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((hug)) I am glad to see that you will be able to attend the funeral. Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man.

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If she says give it all I'll give everything to her.
I am justified. I am purified. I am sanctified. Inside you

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Menolly
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Just chiming in to add ((hugs)) from Ohio, Arrow Tech. Glad to read that your step-Gran was able to smooth the plans for the service.

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Let's just pretend we're normal for a minute ~ New favorite T-shirt quote

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quiltsbypam
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I'm so sorry about your grandfather.

And good luck with the baby. Neither situation is easy!

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"No Biblical hell could ever be worse than the state of perpetual inconsequence." Beatrice in Dangerous Beauty

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ThistleSoftware
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quote:
Originally posted by Arrow-Tech IV:
Thank you. I think I'm handling this better now. My grandfather is still hanging on. It seems incredible. How long can you go without water before your body shuts down? I'd always heard that it was seven or eight days at the most.

I think my grandmother held on for almost two weeks after they stopped fluids. It's amazing what the human body can withstand, even a sick and old human body.

I'm sorry you are dealing with relative drama when you should be free to handle your own life and your grieving process.

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Officially Heartless

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Another late-comer, Arrow, but my condolences. But rest assured that his spirit lives still in you. When you were describing him, you were describing a great deal of what I see (and like) in you-- strong, determined, pragmatic, but with a great big open heart.

Take care, sweetie!

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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LolaRennt
The First USA Noel


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I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. It's a shame that your relatives opted to react the way they did and make a difficult situation that much harder on your grandmother.


LR

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Crackrzz
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Aww Arrow... *hugs* I'm sorry.

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Stand up, slip on the bathtub floor, fling a hand up to balance yourself, and happen to have your mouth open on the downswing. Voila, a new hole in your face.

-Tabby, on how she cut her lip while shaving her legs.

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PallasAthena
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Arrow, the post you wrote about him is such a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. You will treasure those memories forever. My heart goes out to you and your family.

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"How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about." --Ray Nagin

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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Thank you, Arrow, for sharing a bit of your grandfather with us.

If I may pass on the advice that Barbara gave me when I eulogized my Grampa here on the boards last year: save your post to a document somewhere. In a few weeks or months, you will be glad you did. I know I am.

(((hugs)))

Four Kitties

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Jocko's Jolly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I'm thinking about you today, Arrow -- the funeral's this afternoon, right? Hugs and vibes for all of your extended family. It sounds like a wonderful man will be sorely missed.

--------------------
Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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Menolly
We Three Blings


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Just checking in, Arrow Tech. Still thinking of you today, funerals are tough times...

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Let's just pretend we're normal for a minute ~ New favorite T-shirt quote

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Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I really appreciate ALL of the thoughts, hugs, and vibes. This has been so difficult. Even the logistics of getting to the funeral were hard.

First, we had to find a way to get to Arkansas (airline tickets on my credit card, I decided, in fear of the Very Unhappy Car Baby) and then we discovered that all of the relatives who had previously offered to put us up had reneged because they had offered spots to other relatives.

My mother, unfortunately, was the one on the phone with the relatives, and her tactic is to claim poverty and then use emotional blackmail (guilt). For instance, her response to one relative was to say, "Of course we need a REAL bed," while I'm gesturing in the background and saying things like "We'll take the floor!"

"No, no! I'll handle it!" she says, putting her hand over the phone.

Then I hear her say, "Well, I guess we just CAN'T afford it. We'll have to stay only one night...at the La Quinta! We won't fly up. We might even have to miss the funeral."

So, she ends up slamming the phone down and swearing that she will never talk to "those people" again.

I'll add more later.

Posts: 955 | From: Dallas, TX | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Neffti Noel
We Three Blings


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Arrow-Tech - I'm late, but just sending some hugs and support. I am sorry that there is so much fall-out to deal with, when you have your own grief to consider, too. Have some love and kindest wishes from me while you deal with all of this.

This might be way off-base, but funerals can bring out a little of the "Now I've got you, you NFBSKer!" as Eric Berne had it. That is, resentments that have simmered away for years can suddenly be forced to an explosive head over something like sleeping arrangements. Duck and cover if you have to, but sometimes clarity comes out of conflict; if your Mum needs to once and for all blast at this side of the family, and chooses "they wouldn't even spare me a bed at Grandpa's funeral" to be the trigger point, then let her, knowing that it runs much deeper than that. But you know all that anyway, cos you're smart. I hope that makes sense?! What I'm saying is that there is a lot going on here and you can't run around trying to stop other people's fireworks going off because one might blow up in your face - so protect yourself.

I enjoyed reading about your grandfather, he sounds an inspiration. I second Four Kitties - you need to save that one, it's lovely.

Posts: 1157 | From: Westcountry UK "It's Bootiful" | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
bthyb
WiFi Christmas


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Arrow-Tech, so sorry you have to go through this hard situation on top of your grandfather's death. My grandfather and his brother both had Parkinson's, and it's so hard to see once capable, strong men lose their ability to move.

Hugs.

--------------------
If you say you love ice cream, you better be dreaming of an orgy with Ben, Jerry, and one fine-ass chunky monkey.

-- My sister and poet extraordinaire, Joanna Hoffman

Posts: 1475 | From: Los Angeles, CA | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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