Dilemma. Crap. Advice needed.

My father had a heart attack.

The problem? I don’t speak to my father.

Short story (believe it or not): Parents divorced when I was nine. Irresponsble, asshole, childlike, bigoted, gun-toting, mostly nutso father finally pissed me off enough that I cut contact with him in 1995.

Tried to resume contact when I was pregnant with ToddlerNym because Mr. Duhnym convinced me that it was the “right thing to do”. Stayed in contact for about 6 months, even visited him once before he started pulling his crap again. (BTW he never asked WHY I avoided contact for 4 years. WTF?) We had a blowout fight and I haven’t spoken to him since, though I send him pictures of ToddlerNym, whom he’s never met.

Mr Duhnym now agrees that he’s a whack-job.

What do I do? I’ve already determined that I’m going to call his wife and see about his status. I do know that he’s been in the hospital for a week now (for MI Dopers, he’s in Genesys in Grand Blanc), courtesy of my Godmother.

Another problem: I feel tremendously guilty already that I cut contact with him. So this makes it much, much worse.

I really feel that I should call him or hop on a plane, but I really don’t want to…mostly.


Sue, I have a similar relationship with my father. If he were to have a heart attack, I can’t say for sure what I’d do. I’d probably go see him just to assuage my own guilt and try to get some closure if it was possible (though I doubt he’d be all that receptive). It may not change anything, but at least you could feel good about yourself for having tried, rather than living with regret and “what if…?” If he doesn’t respond, you can write him off for good. That’s what I would do, anyway. Good luck.

The decision to remove a parent from your life is a difficult one. I cut off all contact with my father when I was nineteen, as did both of my brothers. He died of a degenerative nerve disease a few years ago and not one of us misses him, nor did we have any desire to see him before he died.

For what it is worth: Why do you feel guilty? If a relationship is hurting you, or those around you, what is the point in trying to maintain it? If you feel guilty because the person in question is a relative, keep in mind that being related to someone does not obligate you to tolerate them. Perhaps this heart attack will change your father’s perspective; perhaps he will become a better person. It might be best to wait and see if he is willing to contact you.

I am sorry that you are so upset over someone who doesn’t seem deserving of your attention. I hope that the decision you make is one that keeps your happiness as one of its goals.

Make the call. He’s not worth the effort, but you are. Tell yourself before hand that you’re not looking to get anything back from him, just to tell him that you hope things go well for him. No expectations.

I’m with woodstock and wring on this one. Sounds like you’ve given him a few chances and he hasn’t come through, but this might be a good time for another one. Best of luck whatever happens.

I vote for a call. You may want to “free yourself from the burden of inaction”. A call right now just to tell him you’re pulling for him may be the thing that eases your mind for years to come.

Mostly you don’t want to call.

Part of you does.

The part that does, no matter how small, is the one that’ll haunt you later on in life if you don’t feed it.

Pick up the phone. Give him a call. You’ll be done. And, even if the call doesn’t go well, you’ll have been stronger for having done.

Sue, everyone’s going to have different advice because we’ve all had differing experiences with this type of situation. What works/worked for someone else may not be the right solution for you.

My father’s mother was a very nasty woman. She was rude and cruel to my mother for my mother’s entire life. But my mother insisted on including her in every single solitary family event all the way up until she (my mother) died.

On the other hand, I had no use for the bitch. I cut off all contact with her after my father remarried and she chose his wedding day as the perfect opportunity to bad-mouth me to my new step sister, who was so shocked to hear what a horrible person I am that she pulled me into the ladies room to let me know how evil I am.

She died last November after a long illness and a hospital stay. I went home for her funeral ONLY for the sake of my father. I never shed a tear and I have no regrets about eliminating that hateful woman from my life without any effort to “make up” before she died. And I’m not the least bit sorry she’s gone. I feel no guilt whatsoever.

For my mother, her conscience was clear that she made every effort to be kind to that woman in spite of how nasty she was in return. It made life easier to “turn the other cheek” so to speak. Me, I found it easier not to allow her to continue to make me feel bad every time she did something else mean or thoughtless.

You have to weigh the degrees of bad you feel and what the benefits are to you in the long run for whatever choice you make today. If reaching out now will assuage your guilt (which you shouldn’t feel anyway, btw), then by all means do it. If reaching out will only bring further heartache into your life, then walk away knowing that you made all the effort you had in you to make and he didn’t extend the courtesy in return so there’s nothing to regret.

Whatever you decide, I hope it goes well and you’re feeling better soon.


You feel guilty because society put that burden on you when it said that every family will have parents like Ward and June Cleaver. When parents don’t reach that pinnacle, it’s not your fault, but you still get the guilt. It’s tough to get past that.

Still, I think you should make the call. Kids need to know their grandparents if they can, and maybe he’s changed enough that you might want to have him in ToddlerNym’s life. A health crisis can do that to a guy. You’ll have a better idea if he’s worth including in the sprout’s life this way. And if not, you’ll know that you at least you made the effort to find out. Either outcome will help you feel better.

I presume he’s going to pull through. If he might not make it, or if there’s even a chance he might not, you better go. Otherwise, maybe send flowers?

It took me a lot of time to get to the point where I could talk to my dad for more than about 10 minutes before blowing my lid. Now I manage to survive mostly without getting irate over the way he thinks and acts, I can let almost all of it pass, but once in a while he still gets to me.

Remember parents have the same right to be screwed up weird people that we do, except in their days maybe there wasn’t as much choice and they had no chance except to be anything but what they are. So put it aside, I guarantee that right now, he’s not thinking about his bigoted politics or whatever, and has some whole other things on his mind. That doesn’t mean he has any right to dump any stuff on you. Just deal with him on the level you are able to, and good luck keeping yourself together and surviving it.

Nuts to that. Express your hope for his recovery politely to his wife, and don’t call him at all.

I feel for you Sue. I’m not speaking to a brother of mine but I know if he was about to die or something like that I would feel pretty bad.

Whatever you decide I hope it works out for the best. I would call some third party and see how he is doing and maybe they might intercede for you.

I hope everything works out.

Gah, Sue, what a tough call.

All advise is going to be coloured by personal experience. Mine is no exception.
I found out last friday, after a few terrifying weeks, that my father didn’t have cancer of the prostate after all. Something that’s already killed my grandfather, and is slowly but surely killing my uncle (my fathers brother). What a tremendous relief.

He’s your dad, and he ain’t gonna be around forever. Make the call. Then see what happens.

BTW, I am in no way trying to make light of whatever history you have with your father. I’m fully admitting that my advise to you right now is completely skewed by my personal background. I could have advised the absolute opposite 5 months ago.

But there you go.

Well, I’d probably go see him, drop in with some flowers & say “Hi.”

Only cause sometimes an experience like that can really change someone & make them nicer but sometimes it doesnt but at least I could say later I did my best.

Sue, what a toughie, but you gotta do it. Read your post. You are already feeling guilty just not talking to him. If you don’t talk/see him you will feel guilty about this forever. Could you presence also help other family members–that is for you to answer. Hopefully Mr. Duhnym will be able to be there with you for moral support. Especially if pop starts with the nasty stuff again. Also, you know the friends you have on this board will be there to tell you to just put it all behind you, that dad has some major problems and that you are bigger than him.

Good luck. I suggest also you send/take him a stuffed animal (I always like to get a lion for adults) it seems to cheer people up.

Whether to see or talk to him depends on how bad dad is, also depends on the advice on Mr. Duhnym, he knows the situation more than we do.

My opinion is that when someone asks for advice they are really asking permission. They already know deep down what they want and are looking for confirmation that it’s okay.
So here are a few answers, you decide what you agree with.

Answer 1) He’s family. You should be respectful of that and extend all the support you can. Keeping in mind that it is never healthy to help others at your own expence. So if you can’t really afford to go to see him, send flowers and call as often as you can. Do what ever will make you feel that you’ve satisfied your role as a good daughter.
Answer 2) Why are you even considering this? It’s not your responcibility to set things right. You certainly can’t make him better. Considering how many opportunities you’ve given him, he doesn’t deserve anything. And you don’t really want to give it to him.

Answer 3) My opinion based on personal experience -
When dealing with abusive or at least jerky parents, the most important thing is to consider yourself first. Are you worried about your feelings or his? What ever you do, do it for yourself, not appearances, not his feelings or anyone else’s. If you know it will make you unhappy to not call, call. But if you know it’ll make you nuts to fork out cash to go see him and then end up rejected again, do not go.
Sometimes it’s healthier to keep your distance than to do the “right thing.”

So consider which one hits home. Does it make you furious to think that you are obligated to support someone who has hurt you or does it hurt to think of not doing anything?

Well, I hope that helps.

I called.

It was okay, he said he missed me. He told me not to come until they knew anything, doing a cath later today. I said I was coming if he needed bypass surgery.

Aunt called back later, he needs quintuple bypass. I’m going. Leaving tomorrow.

This bites.

I have two girlfriends in town tonight, going to drink heavily.

Bottoms up, Sue. I’m sorry to hear this.

Take care, and have a… well, a good trip. You know what I mean.

Well, Sue, that does suck. You have my complete sympathy. But you can, at the very least, take comfort in the fact that you did what you believed to be the decent, honorable thing. I wish you luck, and try to have a great time drinking tonight.

you may want to take a step or two back, sue, there will be a cliche tsunami.

first, the opp. of love is indifference. you are not at that point with your father, so there is still love there on your side. it seems from your post that you are concerned about him and his health.

the call to his wife is a good starting place, to test the water, see where he is at mentally. i would suggest sending something rather than calling, esp. if you think speaking to him directly will start an arguement. perhaps a card with a letter and a gift, then see how he responds. if you are comfortable speaking with his wife that would be a good way to keep contact without stressing you and your father.

remember: nothing ventured, nothing gain.