So, now that I’ve introduced the monster-in-law in my previous post, it’s time to talk a bit about my father-in-law, whom I only met after my ex and I had been married nine years. He was a tallish man with glasses, very heavy, bald, and wearing plaid pants (that ugly plaid thing, again) and a striped shirt the first time we ever met.
There isn’t much to tell. My ex had not seen him in 22 years, since the day he went out for a loaf of bread and never came home. I’m only guessing here, but life with his wife must have been anything but pleasant. Still, that doesn’t justify running off, leaving your kids, and never coming back.
When I married my ex, I naively assumed that because his father had run off, leaving him and his sister alone with their monster mother, that he would never do such a thing, knowing how bad it felt, and how much he still hurt. But I digress.
With the birth of our first child, we contacted his father. Daddy grew up in a wealthy family, and as sometimes happens, he was a bit spoiled. As he reached his late 20s, he decided that he wanted neither wife nor children, and so he simply left. Taking the step to reconnect was a major risk, but we figured a grandparent might want to know that his first grandchild was born.
We wrote and sent him pictures, and eventually received a response. There were several very uncomfortable visits over the next couple of years, during which time, he divorced his third wife and married his fourth. Like my ex’s mother, he was also a drunk. When my ex followed in his father’s footsteps and took a powder, leaving me with a 5 and 6 year old, I was shocked. But I was more shocked by his father’s telephone call several months after the divorce.
He had called to let me know that I was never to ask for money (I had never asked for money before…nor would I have), and that he was extremely angry over his son’s relationship with an African-American woman, to whom he referred as The African Queen. While I was well aware that my ex’s mother was a serious racist, I hadn’t had enough exposure to his father to know that he was. I got an earful, and eventually, he turned on me. I wanted to hang up, but it was like watching a train wreck— I wanted to see just how bad it would get.
When he, in his drunken stupor, told me that the only reason I’d stayed with his son for 14 years was that I was too fat and ugly to find anyone else, I pulled the plug. Thus ended the detente between father and son.