Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Family Ties

I put my Father on the bus to return home to East London at lunchtime today. I have to confess to a feeling of relief and freedom, mingled with guilt that I feel that way, and regret that we don't have a better relationship. It doesn't matter how much I tell myself to keep calm, stay positive, make allowances for his age (he's 89 and keeps announcing he wants to go on for many more years) and not let his put downs and insults get under my skin, but unfortunately he has been an impossible, selfish bully of a man my whole life, so when he is demanding and manipulative and illogical and bad tempered with us now, it is hard to put it down to old age.

And I hate the fact that, while he makes our normally relaxed, happy and harmonious home a tense and miserable place to be in when he visits, to the extent that we frequently invent excuses to go out shopping or find sudden urgent errands to do, just to escape the dreadful atmosphere, there is absolutely not an iota of remorse on his side, while we feel guilty for needing to escape from our own home!

Every time I was tempted to feel sympathetic because it must be so frustrating getting less and less independant, he did or said something so unneccessarily obnoxious that all feelings of empathy dissolved.

I used to put it down to his lonely unhappy childhood and poor parenting that he received, but if I look at Max, who should technically be a basket case if having a dodgy childhood is the criterion, he is an amazing husband, wonderful, involved, wise and caring father and grandfather, so obviously one can choose to overcome a difficult beginning and not perpetuate the problems.

Unfortunately, my Father never made that choice..... and so we need to continue to deal with the dilemma of how to deal with his visits when the the very patient lady he lives with needs a break. If the saying "only the good die young" holds true, I suppose we have many more years of this to go through!

I guess it is a cautionary tale for all of us.... do we want to grow old surrounded by generations of loving family and friends who, as with the passing of Grandpa John, rally round us if we are ill, and are devastated by our passing, leaving a legacy of happy memories and sage advice, or do we want to grow old mean and lonely, and merely "endured dutifully" by the few family members who still feel obliged to have contact with us? It is a choice we all need to make sooner rather than later, because the outcome will be determined by the positive or negative impact we are having on the lives of those around us right now.

Anyway, after the fraught atmosphere of the last few weeks, I guess this painting I completed recently epitomises how Max and I feel about the coming weeks, it is called "invitation to rest"!!!


Old Wom Tigley said...

Guilt can be a terror.. but by the sounds of things you do what you think is your duty. Where others would have put their foot down years ago.
Stay positive and never ever let anyone 'put you down'.

The fact you have you artwork is a blessing... you now sound as if you need to paint yourself in there, sat relaxing on that bench.

All the best to you..

Ali Honey said...

Yep I could happily sit there and gaze at the colours of blue amongst the trees.

Hope you get time to sit there too!

I think maybe you have been a bit too tolerant with your Father. Maybe you should tell him how you feel about the way he behaves when with you, and ask why he thinks he needs to be like that.

I have been looking at the photos in some of the daily photos section - they are fabulous!

quintarantino said...

Hello Suzy,
I really undertsand you on that almost hate/surely love relation with your father. I have some of those problems with mine and it´s never easy... hope you can manage to keep things going the best way possible for you.

As for your painting, it´s beautiful. There´s a good place to sit and just let things roll on by.

Oswegan said...

Teriffic painting. Very peaceful.


imac said...

HI, Love the painting really brill, and it so fits your story, I guess I gotta agree with you really, and I know the guilt.
Just enjoy - now you have your family to yourself.

Janet said...

A difficult subject dealt with so well. You seem to have a firm grasp on the situation and see what negativity can do to a person and all the others around them. I think your tree is beautiful, peaceful and serene. It's good you have your art as a place to release your emotions.

Shirley Goodwin said...

Ah families!

Suzi, I have given you a "You make my day" award - see my blog for details.

RUTH said...

Fabulous painting :o) I too have 'issues' with my father so do understand.

CrazyCow said...

If the problems inspire such beautiful paintings, then dad is doing a great job!

In your shoes, I'd accept all the positive comments, and when the negative ones come along, I'd force my ears to hear something like "Blah, bla-blah bla-blah, blah, blah, blah". Then cos I have no idea what that means, I could quite safely ignore them. Don't they say that ignorance is bliss? :-)

Sorry about your tough situation, but it sounds like you're doing a great job.

Gledwood said...

Can you really take the bus from Port Elizabeth, South Africa to East London? Wow! I live in London and our buses take ages... I hope they give out sandwiches on that bus or your poor old Dad will die of hunger long before he arrives on our "sunny" shores!

Kerri said...

Oh, Suzi-K, I'm really not one to give advice about the Dad thing...so I won't!

About the painting....I absolutely adore it. I am a HUGE fan of trees and benches....and this incorporates them both....it actually brought tears to my eyes to see this painting. The colors are FAB! You are sooooo talented!

Suzi-k said...

kelley, don't worry, I didn't expect advice, was just letting off steam! Glad the painting moved you so!

Kate said...

I think that you are doing a wonderful job of maintaining your humanity and giving your father love and attention despite the many aggravations. My hat's off to you! I myself prefer being surrounded by loving family as an end result to a busy, productive life but sometimes some people are incapable. The painting is lovely, and I do so wish that I had that kind of talent available to me!