Last night I had three missed calls from my step-father* but didn’t notice until this morning. Rang him back expecting some bad news that someone had died or something, but no, it wasn’t that.
My step-dad wants to come overseas on a holiday with me sometime soon. :eek:
Now the good news is that he is offering to pay for pretty much everything, and I’m never one to knock back a freebie. The bad news is that he drives me (and most of the rest of the human population) up the bloody wall. I really don’t think I could bear touring around some SE Asian destination with him for a couple of weeks or so.
And the request/offer came right out of left-field. When he and my mum were first married I was really happy for them both. But over the years we’d had some falling outs (fault on both sides) so had never developed a close relationship. My mum died 4 years ago and I’ve only seen him once since the funeral (we live 450km apart)…but we call each other every few weeks just for a catch up etc. Oh, and btw, he’s 88 and not exactly a spring chicken.
I feel like I’ve been put on the spot, but he sounded soooooo keen on the prospect that I am loathe to say ‘ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDDING ME?’ I already have flights booked for a 6 week holiday in Feb next year, and there is no way in hell that he is coming on THAT one.
I’m thinking a posh resort on some Indonesian or Thai island where he can check out scantily-clad girlies, nip into a cocktail at lunchtime, and then be tucked into bed AND NOT ANNOYING ME by 5pm.
*My mum and he met and married when I was already an adult, so it seems weird to call him ‘step-father’, but he’s been part of the family so long that ‘my mother’s husband’ seems weird too. Oh well.
I’d decline before he’d even finished the sentence. No matter that he’ll pay. You’ll hate it and I think you know you’ll hate it.
If he’s paying he may feel like he’s calling the shots. I don’t know him but he has already just called you up out of the blue and pressured you, do you think you’ll get away with lounging by the pool and leaving him to his own devices? (I mean, physically you can overpower him but you’ll get no peace)
You say he drives people up the wall, is it because he is overbearing, manipulative and won’t take no for an answer perhaps?
There are loads of options out there for elderly people travelling on their own, I’d decline politely and put him in touch with an independent travel agent who can talk through those options with him.
I have a stock answer for people who want to go on holiday with me (friends OR family) which is ‘I’m sorry, but I just really hate going on holiday with other people. Nothing personal, I say it to everyone. I like my personal space. Have you thought of asking [insert random name]?’
88 is a fair age. Good on him for having the will to travel (my grandmother is 87 and won’t travel further than the doctor’s office). Is it possible you’re the closest person that he trusts who is something of a seasoned traveler?
Sure you could. Focus on the tucker and let the annoyances roll off with the sweat.
At his age, he may be thinking he’s not got too many independent years left to be travelling and meeting up with you. It might be your last opportunity to catch up before he shuffles off this mortal coil or loses his independence.
I think it was very nice of him to ask, and you should accept his generous offer if you possibly can. It may be his last chance to travel anywhere. Focus on the pleasure you’re bringing him by going. It may not be as horrible as you anticipate, and even if it is – you won’t be out any money.
Definitely overbearing, boorish and full of himself. He’s also impossible to have a conversation with, taking him 20 minutes (or often more) and 32 gazillion tangents before we get to the point of what he wanted to say.
Unfortunately, he knows that I often travel with my daughter and grandkids. And also, I was so gobsmacked by the suggestion that it left me literally speechless…thus, the proposition is NOW on the table under consideration because I couldn’t think quickly enough. Bugger.
He’s a far more seasoned traveler than I could ever hope to be. In his 20’s, spent four years just traveling the world and working where he could. After he and my mum married, they did umpteen trips to Europe, the Americas and a month in China before it had really become a tourist destination. His last os trip was to Great Britain, France and Austria just a couple of years ago…he went with his son, and from what I can gather, his son has just point-blank refused to go anywhere with him again.
Yeah, I’m thinking that too. At 88, his mortality is looming closer and closer. Mind you, the bastid might yet outlive ME.
It WAS nice of him to ask, but honestly, he’s always been such a bloody tight-arse with money, it was totally unexpected to say the least. His own kids once quipped, “Dad is such a miser, he’s got locks on the garbage bins”. And of course, with his reputation, I was already starting to ‘second-think’ the offer, wondering if there was some sort of ulterior motive.
But then his excitement during the phone-call was pretty obvious…so I think now he just wants the chance for one last overseas fling, with someone there to help him negotiate airports, hotels and all the other sundry stuff that traveling entails.
Oh well…time to start looking at destinations and dates. If he wants to pay for my lost work hours, I might do it THIS year. And he’ll probably want to fly Business Class too…but bugger that. I’m an Economy Sheila: give me a taste of BC and I might never be able to fly overseas again.
You are the only one who knows if you can bear it or not. But you just might be making some geezer’s last few nice memories. If conversation is a sticking point, make a game of one-upping every point he makes:
“I was a great runner in my day!”
“You were in contention for the Olympics at one stage, weren’t you?”
?? “Um… well, I might have been if it wasn’t for the Labor government back then!”
“I hear those communists are using baby corpses to build bridges to Russia.”
Or your original plan of two cocktails at lunch and goodnight daddy.
So take a notebook or a small laptop (don’t forget the international wall plus adapters), and keep a diary. Maybe you’ll get something publishable out of it, and make a few hundred bucks.
He’s not under the impression that you speak some language that he wants you to be able to interpret for him when you are traveling, do he? Get that ironed out ASAP.
Is your father still living?
My father died 20 years ago, and my stepfather, who married my mother when I was in my 30s, is the only grandfather my son has known (well, he had his paternal grandfather, but he died when my son was 5). Anyway, my mother died last year (almost to the day), and my stepfather and I have stayed in touch, which is good, because he’s still “Grandpa” to my son.
It could be that the guy is becoming aware of his mortality and trying to straighten out all the relationships in his life, and one of them is with you. He wants to create a good memory with you, so that when he dies, this is what you will remember.
I don’t know how charitable you are feeling, but if you really don’t think you can stand to make the trip with him, say something like “I won’t forget you generosity in making the offering.” That might make him think he’s accomplished what he set out to accomplish anyway, and he’ll be less disappointed.
You know, he’s 88 years old. Regardless of how healthy an 88 he is, he may well be starting to reflect back on his life. And possibly, just possibly, he is starting to see that he hasn’t always treated others well. If so, he might be trying to make up for that. And you might be one of the people he wants to make up with. If that’s the case, it would be kind of churlish not to give him the opportunity.
If you really can’t stand to go overseas with him, why not offer an alternative? Tell him you can’t make this trip, but you’d love to re-connect with him - maybe get dinner some night after he’s back from the trip.