Nat had a fairly decent golf game on Wednesday despite the heat. Sweaty and exhausted when he arrived home, he showered and we settled in for the evening. Just after 8:00 Laura called. She wanted to break the news to her father that she was now seeing someone for the past few days. From what I understand Nat’s reaction wasn’t what she was hoping for (silence at his end of the phone) and she got upset and cut the phone call short.
We sat in our easy chairs mulling over the whole call and I could feel myself slowly getting mad. This was the third time Laura called to break important news to her father and I felt he was entitled to more than just a phone call. The first two calls – her break-up with Shawn and her request for Nat to co-sign her mortgage – definitely should have been done face-to-face.. For some reason she couldn’t do it and now with the third call I felt Nat deserved better, and I began to explode. The words came flying out of my mouth faster than a speeding bullet. I rambled on about Laura’s lack of consideration for her father and me, her self-involvement and lack of interest in anyone else’s life. As my blood pressure rose to the boiling point, I paced back and forth like a caged lion. Poor Nat, didn’t know what hit him. He sat there in silence, but certainly agreed he was disappointed in her lack of consideration of his feelings. He also had no idea how he was supposed to react to her seeing someone new. We were both still getting use to the marriage break-up. Being a little old-fashioned and older, it was taking the pair of us a little longer to adjust to the new family arrangement.
As the television was still running in mute, we discussed the situation more and he said he would wait for calmer heads to prevail and then give Laura a call. He did so on Thursday wherein he left her a message to call when she was able. She returned the call Thursday afternoon while Nat and I were sitting on the back patio enjoying whatever breezes blew our way. He had just finished laying the new flooring in his shed and was cooling down with a cold drink and his crosswords while I got caught up on my reading. I remained on the patio reading as he took the phone indoors for privacy.
When he returned, he relayed portions of their conversation and apparently Laura apologized for not handling the news of her break-up better than she did. She explained she was exhausted after confronting Shawn and their two children face-to-face and felt a phone call would be sufficient for her father. Nat had tried to explain how we were both recovering from the actual break-up and his reserved reaction to her seeing someone new would have to take time to sink in. Things were now going too fast and it would take time for us to get caught up.
He further relayed my concerns about her self-involvement and disinterest in the life of her step-mother (Me) and my family. She stated she also felt snubbed by me recently at Father’s Day when apparently I sat with Marilyn (her ex-mother-in-law) and said nothing to her. My explanation:- Laura was running around trying to get things organized when we arrived, was chattering on about how she was running late, and I felt I should stay out-of-the-way and joined Marilyn at the table. I further explained to Nat that Marilyn is closer to me in age and I’ve always talked to her and, even her Mother, Sadie, more than I have Laura. I’ve got over 20 years on Laura, and most topics that are discussed between her and her sister, Susan, usually are of no interest to me. I also explained to Nat that I did, in fact, wish her a safe trip and a good time when her and Lucas were headed to summer camp that next week. She had also told her father how she felt snubbed by me at a family gathering at our house. Apparently I handed Shawn a bag of cookies to take home and said “don’t be a stranger“. I explained to Nat my intentions were not meant to snub Laura, that I was unsure how often we would get to see Shawn now that the two of them were split and it was my way of saying to Shawn that he would always be a part of this family. If Laura and Shawn had misinterpreted that, then I was sorry and I would, in future, keep my thoughts to myself.
By the sounds of her conversation with her Father she was now turning this whole matter around and back to me. When I finally went to bed my mind was whirling around and racing. Depression soon started to set in as I tried to sort things out in this old brain. Once Nat came to bed he knew something was wrong and not wanting to upset him anymore than he was, I tried my best to withhold my thoughts. Nat’s love and concern for me is unquestionable and he knew I needed to talk. I exploded. The tears flowed, the angry words came out and the guilt began to set in upon realizing what I had done. Oh GOD, the guilt!! How could I do this to the man who loves me and will do anything for me. I understood the close relationship he and his two daughters had, but since our marriage I had always felt excluded in certain family gatherings. Laura has never directly asked me how I was doing and has taken no interest in my family. At times the three of them would stand-off in another room and talk, while I would visit with Marilyn, her mother, or anyone else that was around. There were family meal times early in our marriage where the three of them would sit at one end of the table while the “outsiders” – Me, Shawn and Tom – would sit at the other end. I knew this was a sitting arrangement they were use to when their Mother was alive, but they had no idea how excluded I felt. The more I talked and the more Nat tried to understand, the more I erupted in tears. I was now uncontrollable despite Nat’s attempts to console me. Maybe these were things I had misinterpreted, but they were events that have never left my mind and even as the words flowed, so did the guilt. I knew I was upsetting Nat and practically accusing him of doing a lousy job of raising his daughters. That was not my intent. I knew I had issues that I, and I alone, would have to resolve.
The night was long and exhausting, and we finally tried to settle down to get much-needed sleep. We both made attempts to re-assure the other that things would be better. We couldn’t change the past we could only try to do better in the future. Mistakes were made and was now water under the bridge. We had to move forward as best we knew how.
The hot sun tried to peek through the bedroom drapes come Friday morning as I looked at the clock and realized I had slept past my usual time. The last I had looked at my bedside clock it was 2:45 am. Somehow I managed to stop the flow of thoughts oozing from my brain and nodded off. I still awoke exhausted. The bags under my eyes were deeper than any sunglasses would be able to cover. Hopefully, however, it would be a new day and a new beginning in trying to mend this family fence that had somehow fallen into disrepair.