Atheist Scruples: your dad is ill

Your father abandoned the family when you were young. After many years of silence, he is ill and asks for help. Do you help?

My parents aren’t hug-and-kissers and they argue a lot but they help their siblings and friends and together raised – let’s face it – an awesome daughter. It’s a real stretch of my brain to deal with this question. It’s very much out of the realm of my experience. In addition, I hate thinking about mortality and wish it didn’t torment my ability to relax in bed some nights.

Anyway..

It might depend somewhat on the reasons why he left and how old I was. If I was five or younger at the time, I probably wouldn’t feel much of a connection with him or even remember him at all. Maybe what little I did remember would be flavoured by whatever my mother may have said in passing about him over the years, if he got mentioned at all. I don’t know if I’d feel any motivation to give him my time or money. If I was a little older and had fonder memories of him but still felt residual anger over his leaving, it’s really a toss up.

I can’t give a better answer.

Family dynamics are so weird. I wonder how well they’ve been studied in terms of patterns and predictability, if there could be such a thing.

I’ve never asked my aunt this because we’re not close enough, but her daughter is friends with me on Facebook and has said more than once that my aunt has written her off somewhat because she remains in contact with her father who divorced my aunt over a decade ago. Cousin says get over it already, but Aunt can’t, I guess. I don’t know if Aunt sees her son all that often, either. I’m not Facebook friends with him and I’d never ask his sister. I’m curious now but not nosy enough. Not my style. If nobody tells me, I don’t know. I don’t go looking for family gossip. I have a big family if you count all the aunts, uncles, greats and cuzzies. Too many to keep track of and we don’t do reunions anymore. I rely on Mom to spill the beans if there are any worth spilling but we never let them spill out of the container that is that conversation.

The Man will teases me over how “miffed” I seem to get if ever the topic of our wedding comes up and I stupidly mention the fact that of the few that I did feel like inviting some never bothered to come, send cards or otherwise acknowledge they’d gotten invites at all. Thanks for nothing.

I’m laughing now.

Really.

Who cares?

It was a sweet, classy night and they missed it.

Sucks to be them.

Back to the question and letting bygones be bygones.

I think I would make the effort to try to get to know him and help where I could. Just because it didn’t work between him and my mother doesn’t mean he and I can’t have a relationship now, no matter how late and ultimately truncated it might be by whatever illness has befallen him. Better a little than nothing at all.

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