My parents divorced when I was in high school. Another woman was involved. To my father’s credit he waited until I had been out of college a couple of years before he married her though I learned this week the affair had gone on for many years before they were married–years while he was married to my mother. Daddy’s wife had her own family: a son older than me, and two younger daughters.
Because my sister and I were older, we were never really integrated into his new family. Had we been invited, I doubt we would have accepted due to loyalty to our mom. We already had a family.
Through the years, especially after our Mother’s death, Sis and I have been around Daddy’s wife’s family some, but there was always a line of demarcation between her family and his girls. There were just too many differences.
Since Daddy’s illness, we’ve all tried to come together in harmony for Daddy’s sake, but it hasn’t been easy. Now he is dying in a hospital bed in the living room of his home.
We can visit him there—but it isn’t our home. Our stepmother and her family belong there. It is their home. They have been his primary caregivers. They’ve done an excellent job. We would have been willing to help but have been kept on the outside looking in.
We’ve talked about it; tried to work through it; but in the end, they have a routine while my sister and I are just visitors.
While Daddy was still conscious, he got lots of company so our private time with him was limited. He didn’t like a commotion, so we kept our visits pretty brief. Our accommodations are only five minutes away so we could go two or three times a day. But I worried about him when I wasn’t there. Could I be helping? Would my presence be comforting to him?
He’s now lost consciousness and the end is near…very near.
It’s difficult dealing with the dynamics of a blended family in the best of times. Add the stress of losing a parent (spouse, step-parent) and it is amplified. There are countless occasions for patience, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness — all growth opportunities, but for me it is physically and emotionally draining. Add the stress from physical inactivity. I can’t sleep, I don’t want to eat. and I cry…a lot. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.