The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Stepmothers – If You’re Not One, You Don’t Get It!

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Not much has changed since my last posting. Nat is still in mega-pain sometimes. He’s able to relax a wee bit in the evenings but the mornings are still a killer. He can’t even get his own socks on and has to wait for the pain to subside before he can. I’m now seeing the complete and total frustration in his face, plus we both fully understand how chronic pain can wear one’s health and welfare to the bare bone – emotionally and physically. He wants to bang his fists on a wall, but he knows in his heart that will only create more pain – so he continues to suffer.

With all of this going on, we received an email from his youngest daughter. Five years ago, Nat had to co-sign for her so that she could qualify for a mortgage on a townhome after she separated from her husband. Knowing what I know about co-signing, I was furious and concerned, as our own little home would be on the line should anything extremely dire happen if she missed enough payments. Plus it was the fact that she had to telephone her father to get our permission, and couldn’t talk to us in person to discuss all the pros and cons, along with other living arrangements. Nat completed the deal but it took me some time to get over the whole scenario. I can get very emotional when it comes to jeopardizing our lifestyle that we’ve worked over 20 years to achieve.

The email began in a somewhat defensive mode – explaining her possible job loss, no longer receiving the Child Tax Credit (her son has now turned 18) and now her daughter was going through a medical struggle with the new puppy she had adopted. She had worded it in such a way that I took offense – how I had seen the new puppy on Facebook but never commented on him. She then began to explain that it was now time to renew her mortgage and that her Father’s signature was still required. If we were to have the mortgage put in her own name it would cost over $800.00 for the bank to do the title search and transfer the Mortgage into her name alone. Naturally, she didn’t have the money – we didn’t have the money – and so her Father accompanied her to the Bank to complete the renewal for another five years and at a much lower interest rate, which was to her financial benefit.

As it turns out, I now have no qualms about my hubby co-signing, but as I took offense to the Facebook remark, I had to reply to her email. I did this, however, without telling her Father, which came back to bite me and open up a huge can of worms. I will admit, however, that even hubby could see where I would have been offended. In my email, I explained how her father was still in mega pain, that she’s not the only one with problems and that I only go peek in on Facebook in order to see what the grandchildren are up to – otherwise we’d never know a thing!! I further explained that I no longer make “comments” because I find it tedious and time consuming, and that I have a huge aversion to Facebook completely. I find it’s no ones’ business what I’m up to and even if it was, I don’t do anything that’s exciting enough to tell. I feel too many people are now using it to post silly videos, emotional sayings, etc. and at my age I have no time or patience for such stuff.

When hubby and daughter arrived at the bank she asked her Dad if he knew about my email. He told her no, he knew nothing at all, and when she told him she was going to reply, he asked “You’re not going to cause trouble, are you?”. When hubby returned home, he asked me about the email and I showed it to him, asking at the same time if he found anything offensive in it, and that I was just replying to a remark that I took offense too. He could see my point. It was at this stage of the game that he finally admitted that his daughter has (and had in the past) confided in him about some of the things that he and I were neglecting to do regarding his two daughters. Suddenly a very emotional discussion took place. After 20 years of marriage he finally confided in me that he tends to keep secrets or personal concerns to himself, that he doesn’t want to cause trouble, and that he feels he should be the peace keeper between us all. I explained that there are times he has to confide in me, tell me what is happening so I don’t walk into a situation blind and dumb, and just for the sake of clearing the air. I’m now understanding why my beloved husband can sit for long periods of time thinking about everything. I’m now wondering how much more over the years he’s kept from me – but I’ll admit that is now water under the bridge and I’m willing to forget it.

During our tumultuous discussions we received a reply from his daughter to my email and she had taken a few of my answers the wrong way, and had even implied that her father lied to her, that he did, in fact, know about my first email. She also implied that somehow her father and I were keeping things from her or that we didn’t fully understand what she was going through. Hubby and I knew it was now time to give our side of the story.

I began to compose an email (sometimes in anger, which I later deleted) and along with hubby’s memory reminded his daughter about her former mother-in-law being the dominate character in the lives of her grandchildren, that we were never asked to baby-sit or take part in her children’s lives because of the mother-in-law, – that I was also going through kidney dialysis and an eventual kidney transplant during the years her children were young and her father was taking care of me during those extremely trying times – that she had an opportunity to take a ring that belonged to her birth mother but never took it,  and that I gave it to her daughter (my step-granddaughter) on her 19th birthday explaining why I never had a chance to tell her that I was her “step grandmother” (that was blurted out by her sister’s husband when her daughter was pre-school age). We also went on to explain about special occasions – Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. – how their families want to start their own traditions – that they’re always busy – that they want to spend time alone or with their children – and that since her separation we’ve been unsure and in the dark as to how to react. She’s never once spoke to her Father about exactly why she separated and what had happened – only that she “didn’t love him anymore”. This was one thing that broke her Father’s heart, that he was never confided in about the whole affair. I must confess that I also explained to this daughter how my transplant medications have affected me over the years with the side-effects and my emotional ups and downs with depression – matters of which she’s never asked me about personally. I also reminded her how she’s never once asked me directly how I’m doing, or about any of my side the family. That this whole affair can work both ways. In her defense her father explained to me how she’s never been able to open up to people face-to-face, that she doesn’t like confrontation (duh, who does?), wherein I replied she’s over 50 and it was about time she tried!

Between hubby and I, we tried to also make amends – that we would try and have everyone over for dinner more often – that we would certainly see what more we could do over the holidays – and we expressed our regrets about not seeing her children more often. Try as we might this was going to be a tough one – we weren’t too sure how this daughter would react to our response, and as it happens, to date we’ve heard nothing. So we sit and wait to see who is going to break the ice. I’m willing to guess it’s going to be her father and I.

As the week has progressed hubby and I have been more relaxed with each other. I’m hoping that he now understands that he has to talk to me, that things build up so much over the years they can explode in your face – which, in fact, happened. As a result our whole weekend was exhausting, emotionally draining and depressing for everyone involved. I will admit, now the genie is out of the bottle after 20 years and it feels good to hopefully now have open and truthful conversations and/or discussions in the future about anything that may happen between ourselves and our families.

It goes without saying that after an emotional Saturday, hubby and I went down to Green Acres Restaurant for supper, had a good helping of fish ‘n chips (and forgetting about any dietary or possible diabetes restrictions). We then went to the new Outlet Mall in Niagara-On-The-Lake on Sunday for a nice walk around and to look for some new track pants for hubby. We got lucky and found at least one pair that was reasonably priced and as a bonus, I found two fabulous shirts/blouses that I love from Van Heusen. As any sane girl/woman will tell you, buying new clothes always soothes the savage soul. Trust me, mine needed soothing!!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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