Friday, October 9, 2015

In which I am feeling like I didn't try hard enough with Doris but then I find an old email she had sent Primo

Is it natural to question your relationship with a person after the person has died? I didn't have questions after my dad died, but I loved my dad.

Doris, I did not love. Doris, I did not even like. I pitied her. I wanted better for her. I wanted her to have a better life than she had with Sly. I wanted her to be happy. I thought if she was happy, she might like me.

I sort of tried to make her like me. Well, not really. I didn't care if she liked me. I tried to give her the minimum she needed so she and Sly would not be nasty to Primo.

Should I have tried harder? Is there anything I could have done? I have been thinking about that over the past week.

And then, while working on the manuscript for my Golddigger book - which I think stinks and will probably never see the light of day, I found this old email from Doris to Primo. (Did they really think Primo would never share information with me?)

I'm sorry . . . that you noticed the chill in my last message. Sometimes I get the feeling that your dad and I have gotten placed rather low on the totem pole of your priorities. I promise to open my mind and heart to your future wife and look for areas of mutual interest. Neither dad nor I recall any instances when we were rude or unwelcoming to the Gold Digger.

If you have any examples of our behaviors that were offensive, PLEASE tell us. I simply wasn't yet comfortable in giving her hugs*, and we saw her as, frankly, rudely detached, spending time in the living room on your computer, with us sitting there,**  and both of you putting your heads privately together, even though we were present, and whispering, much the way you and Isabel used to do,***  

as if you were enjoying some private joke that we weren't supposed to know about.

After reading this note and after remembering that one of the reasons Sly and Doris did not like me was because of how I eat bacon, I am thinking that there was not much I could have done, other than surrender and say, "All of Primo's love should go to you. I'm out."

* Not that I wanted them to hug me, but the first time my mom met Primo, it was at a family reunion of my mom and her siblings. She saw me and saw Primo next to me. She ran up to him, threw her arms around him, said, "You must be Primo! I have so been looking forward to meeting you! Come over here and tell me all about yourself!"

** They were reading the paper or doing crossword puzzles or otherwise showing no interest in me whatsoever.

***  At the one and only visit Isabel made to Sly and Doris’ – after that, she refused to have anything to do with them. Isabel and I have more in common than we loved the same man.


  1. I don't think there was much you could have done. These were unhappy people. And I'm not sure they had the ability to see anything except in a negative light anymore.
    Your feelings of guilt are what I would expect of someone who wanted a better relationship but had no way to make it happen and had very little time to try. While my in-laws were no way as bad as yours there were issues. But I had over 30 years and a husband who understood very well who his parents were.

    1. Liz, were you ever able to resolve those issues?

    2. Thankfully the issues were not as bad as yours. Fortunately they were more clueless than mean. We ignored the bigoted statements and kept the visits short. And my husband married me even though his mother told him she was sure I was an alcoholic. It probably helped that I never worried that much about what they thought.

  2. My mother in law died about 8 years ago, and she was not a nice person. I feel bad sometimes for still feeing so uncharitable about her memory, but, her death, while sad and unfair (she died from a really rough cancer) didn't erase how awful she was to my husband, to me, and to practically everyone. I still can't figure out why so many people came to her funeral. Small town obligations?

  3. my MIL was also a bad person - did terrible things to my husband (psychological, not physical) and did not want me around. when she died I had a lot of regret because we never got past it, but like you I had tried ... unsuccessfully. I finally forgave myself and you need to just let it go. Gi e your support to Primo. he's going to need it for a while.

  4. My dad kept trying to resolve things with his mother, and it just never worked. He wasn't even trying to get her to admit to all of the horrible things she did, but she wouldn't meet him halfway or at all. But when she died I don't think he had regrets about their lack of connection. My stepmother remarks how sad it is that no one misses my grandmother, but it is just a relief to have her gone. And that is sad.


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