It’s All About Me! Your Dead Dad Said So!

by admin on January 5, 2011

I’m not sure if this is funeral etiquette submission, or nearly a “gimme pig” submission, given the offender’s need to make it all about himself.

My ex-husband and I had about as civil a divorce as we could have had under the circumstances.  But one notable thing, my ex always had to be the center of attention, good or bad.  Even after our daughter was born, the birth and the parenting were all about him, not our child.  If our daughter was given attention he felt he deserved, he would do his darndest to re-direct it.

A few years after the divorce, he moved 10 hours away, and I remarried.  Thanks to referrals to a headhunter, a couple of years after that I got my dream job, about five hours’ drive from the ex, and five hours’ drive from my hometown.

Not long after our move, my father passed away from an aggressive form of cancer.  It was devastating for all of us, but my daughter (then seven years old) was hit particularly hard because my dad had stepped in to provide us moral support.  Dad adored her and she adored him.  They took walks together, tractor rides, picnics… the last coherent day he had (the day before he passed), she danced for him in the hospital’s common room.

I informed my ex of my father’s passing, and my husband, daughter and I went to Dad’s funeral and then tried to get back into a regular routine.

A couple of weeks after Dad’s death, I got an email from my ex-husband.  While the email is long gone, the words burned into my brain pretty hard, and I’ll admit, I’m still bitter.  Basically, it said, “I am sorry for your father’s passing.  If it’s any consolation, I had a dream the other night that was he so glad you moved closer to me, so I could be a bigger part of our daughter’s life again. He told me in the dream that he always liked me, and was glad I could be there for her.”

My first inclination was to note that, 1) Dad gave me the retainer for my divorce attorney the second I came around and asked for help, 2) my ex in fact was the one that caused the geographic separation, and 3) the location of my new job was just blind luck that it was closer to him, so he can shut his trap. Instead, I hit delete.

Oh, and as far as him being a bigger part of his daughter’s life?  Only when it’s convenient and fits into his schedule.  He’s backed out on time more than once, and she wasn’t even invited to his wedding.

He also sent me a “congrats on your pregnancy!” email a month after I miscarried.  But that’s another story.   I swear, Etiquette Dame, I do a damn lot of tongue-biting.     1209-10

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessyy January 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm

@bookworm

It was the ex’s business as HIS daughter had lost her grandfather. I think I would want to know about something that could potentially make my child extremely upset.

While yes, the ex had no relationship with the father, he had a relationship with his own daughter and THAT is why it is the ex’s business.

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Toni January 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Well, here I am responding right after Bookworm…so…back up everyone and I’ll try again:

As everyone has stated– at the LEAST, he needed to be informed of the death as a courtesy. But, MOST importantly, he needed to know something that so deeply affected his young daughter. Even if he only sees her “when it’s convenient and fits into his schedule.”

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Lizza January 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm

She never said the ex had no contact with the daughter – he mentioned in his dream that he would be able to be a “bigger part” of the daughter’s life, but nowhere is it said that they had no contact.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson January 5, 2011 at 7:45 pm

@OP — Your story reminds me of a saying I heard and — as a divorced woman — took to heart: “All married women are married to different men. All divorced women are divorced from the same man: ‘that SOB.’ ”

Yours exemplifies that.

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Jillybean January 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm

@bookworm – they share a child. His child’s loss is certainly his business. As a responsible parent she was correct to notify him. And no where does she say that the ex has no contact with the daughter at all. You really need to read more closely.

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Random January 5, 2011 at 8:37 pm

@bookworm

Because she didn’t cut him out of her life, they have a daughter together. She may not like him much, but she didn’t cut him off. He might not see his daughter much, but the loss of OP’s father affects her daughter, so he should definitely be told. You are definitely reaching for reasons to blame the OP.

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gramma dishes January 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm

bookworm ~~ The OP had never made a point of cutting her ex completely out of her life. She might have loved to have done so, but they have a child together, so cutting him out completely simply is neither possible nor (at this point) wise. She did NOT say that the ex has no contact with the daughter.

It was the ex’s business because the death of the OP’s father affected the child. That makes it very much his business.

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Maureen January 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

DGS – my heart goes out to you, dear soul.

OP – better off without him. I think you’re daughter is better off without him in her life, as well, but he *is* the biological parent. So easy for me just to say that and not be in your situation.

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Louise January 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm

@bookworm

“All I’m saying is that when you make a point to cut someone from your life, they’re gone. The ex had no relationship with the father to end. It was all with the wife and child. OP mentioned that distance was needed, so the ex has no contact with the daughter at all.”

I don’t see where the OP says she cut her ex out of her life or that the ex has or had no contact with his daughter — or at least any cut imposed by the OP. There was a big distance geographically when they moved hours away, but that doesn’t mean anyone was cut out of anyone’s life.

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Shock and Awe January 5, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Bookworm, even when my father refused to carry out his end of visitation, my mother still kept him up to date to major events in my sister’s and my lives. When my grandfather passed away she told him but he didn’t even send a card or call. When his father died when I was a little girl at least he had the decency to tell us. I hadn’t seen them in a long time but he still knew it would be the right thing to do to tell us. Honestly, my mother did everything right, she encouraged us to forgive him and be open to a relationship with him when we were younger. Once we were older we decided he was a jerk and washed our hands of him. I think the OP, like my mother, is taking the high road and her daughter won’t resent her later for “keeping her from her father.”.

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anotherloginname January 6, 2011 at 1:24 am

Hanna- Seriously, what bickering? The OP has the restraint of a saint!

Bookworm- I agree with the others. You’re just being deliberately difficult.

Incidentally, after my grandparents divorce, my Grandma continued to be invited to stay with her former brother-in-law and his family (and indeed she often did). My Mother went to her ex father-in-laws funeral. My ex’s parents still email me ocassionally. Even if she had cut off all contact with her ex (which she clearly hadn’t) that doesn’t mean he may not continue to have some form of a relationship with, or interest in, her family members.

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phoenix January 6, 2011 at 8:14 am

Hannah- what bickering? Are you reprimanding the OP because she was upset, nonverbally, to herself, over an email? Do you count being upset by someone and not saying anything as bickering?

I honestly have no idea what you are reprimanding the OP for at all, and you’re coming across as very judgemental and off-base.

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DGS January 6, 2011 at 10:27 am

@Maureen – thank you very much!

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Goldie January 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

Time for some Divorce 101, I see :)

The way I see it, as the mother of my X’s children, it is my *obligation* to keep him informed of anything relevant to the children’s lives, as well as have the children available to him at scheduled visitation times (the last one, from what I understand, I am required by law to provide). What he decides to do with this info and availability is his call, but I have to provide it.

Also, just because I don’t want to stay married to a person, doesn’t mean I have to cut him out of my life. If I cut everyone out of my life that I wouldn’t want to be married to, I’d lead a pretty lonely life.

None of this applies if the ex poses a threat to the ex-wife and/or children, but from the OP’s letter I did not gather that to be the case.

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Elizabeth January 6, 2011 at 11:27 am

@bookworm- where are you getting this from?
“My ex-husband and I had about as civil a divorce as we could have had under the circumstances.”
To me, and this is just me and my experience with my parents’ divorce, this says they are on speaking terms of sort. It make no mentions they cut contact or had to speak through lawyers only.

“Oh, and as far as him being a bigger part of his daughter’s life? Only when it’s convenient and fits into his schedule. He’s backed out on time more than once, and she wasn’t even invited to his wedding.”
This says he still has contact with his daughter, but he is just a jerk about it. I don’t know how much you know about divorce with kids, bookworm, but just because he slacks doesn’t mean she can. Especially if he is an attention whore. My father was one and his divorce with my mother was not civil. My mother had to “dot her I’s and cross her T’s” with everything that had to pertain to us and him (despite his lack of effort) or he would raise hell that she was trying to ruin his relationship with his children. He did a perfectly good job of that on his own, but that didn’t stop him from dragging my mother to court every time he didn’t get his way.

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Squashedfrog January 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

First of all, can I congratulate the OP on showing amazing restraint on what must have already been a stressful and difficult time for her. Every now and again, there is a story on here that makes my mouth actually drop open at my desk, and this is one of them. You showed amazing will power by not reacting to such an ego, I confess I would probably have hit the roof under the same circumstances.

If it helps any, as you mention when you think about it, it still makes you seethe, (and I can’t blame you), I think you did exactly the right thing by not answering him. You did not engage the crazy : )

In my experience, people with egos as big as that would immediately start exclaiming to everyone and everything how horrible and bitter you were to rebuke him for his obliviously superior insight into your situation! And after he condescended himself to help you too!

You see, I’m afraid I did not show the same restraint in an incident with a similarly egotistical and toxic ex (who Ive mentioned before on here). After we split up, I happened to run into a mutual (male) friend of ours in town, we popped for a platonic coffee and a quick catch up. It seems the ex saw us whilst we were out, and rang me that night (It was so odd for him to contact me I stupidly picked up the phone).

In sugary sweet tones, he said he’d seen me and MF, and how pleased he was as he’d been worried that I’d not been getting out enough after our split, as it must have been sooo hard for me (I dumped him!) He then said how good it was that there were people like MF out there caring enough meet up with me to help me get over it all.

Seriously. Im even getting flushed with anger thinking about it now, and it was over 9 years ago. I was so shocked at first I couldn’t reply as he came out with this, but then burst out laughing, said something like “Are you kidding me, Seriously?” and slammed the phone down (well it was a mobile, but you know what I mean!). The result? All of our mutual friends were duly informed by toxic ex how mental I was – how I’d contacted HIM to rub his face in the fact I was meeting HIS friends for coffee and laughed and yelled like a mad woman when he said he was happy for me. Tsk.. eh?

So well done Op for not engaging it. I think in the long run you may well have done yourself a favour. I wish I had!

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Paula January 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

If it helps any to clarify:

1 – I did notify the ex of my dad’s death via email. Largely because it’s easier than talking to him. Plus, I’ve learned over time to keep as much communication with him in writing as possible. However, the email he sent was a separate, spontaneous email communication.

2 – I notified the ex because, as a result of the move, my began seeing our daughter every one or two months. He was going to find out because my daughter was devestated for a long time. He needed to know so he could appropriately support her. When he lost two grandparents about the same time, he was considerate enough to let me know so I could be help her through the additional losses.

3 – Since the divorce, I admit I vent frequently. But when I deal with the ex, I keep everything as calm, dispassionate, and factual as possible. Just makes things easier.

4 – I only deal with the ex in matters concerning our daughter. I learned long enough he was no longer someone to count as a friend. I don’t hate him, but I hate dealing with him sometimes. While I would not trade my daughter for anything in the world, I kind of envy my friends who broke off marriages with no children and never had to deal with an ex again.

5 – I never even told the ex about the pregnancy that miscarried. My daughter did over the phone, and I didn’t know it. My daughter actually found out accidentally (overheard a conversation when we thought she was asleep in the car, we really should have been more careful), or we wouldn’t have told her until the first trimester was over. Since my daughter didn’t tell him about the miscarriage, he did send the email innocently enough. The timing just stung since I miscarried within five months of losing my dad.

6 – For what it’s worth, we have a healthy son now, nearly 3 years old. I got pregnant again six months after the miscarriage. He and his sister are totally batty over each other.

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Elizabeth January 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Paula, I am so truly happy your life has taken a turn for the better. It makes the story so much easier to stomach. Much more happiness in your future!

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irish January 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Eek, Squashedfrog, that’s a scary situation to be in! I hate it that people formerly in your life can affect how people see you by misinterpreting and downright lies. Hope none of the friends believed your ex-boyfriend.

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DGS January 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Paula – good for you! What a gracious woman you are, and what a terrific parent.

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gramma dishes January 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Squashedfrog ~~ I’m reasonably confident that your mutual friends know your ex well enough to know not to believe a word out of his mouth, at least as it pertains to you. Especially since Mutual Male Friend would certainly know differently!! All that happened in the long run was that your ex showed himself to be the donkey’s behind he actually is.

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Paula January 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Y’all are too kind. However, I don’t feel there’s much gracious about me! My older sister got all of the gracious genes. I got the leftover blunt and snarky genes, which cause me to spend a lot of time practicing tongue-biting. My sister also got all of our dad’s great Swedish genes – blonde, tall, long-legged. And I … (except for tall) didn’t! ;-)

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Just Laura January 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Oh Squashedfrog, I completely understand your frustration. When my boyfriend of 9 years became depressed and verbally abusive, I left. I tried to be as nice as possible, including telling him what a good person he is, how I hoped he would find a nice girl and be happy, etc. He broke several things that belonged to me and mailed them to my work. Even when I moved out of the state, he continued to call me to yell at me. He told his family and all our friends that I was a cold-hearted —, etc., and several people defriended me on Facebook. Thus I was faced with the decision to either let them all know that HE was clearly the crazy one, or suck it up and not badmouth in return, but have all those people think horrible things about me. I chose the latter, because I figure that real friends would have asked me for my side, instead of just believing one person. As you nicely phrased it, one shouldn’t “engage the crazy.”
Good one!

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Xtina January 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Paula—glad life has moved on favorably for you!

Another comment to add re: cutting the ex out of one’s life: if you have children with a person, they will be part of your life FOREVER, and there is no getting out of that unless you are under federal witness protection, otherwise in hiding because the person is violent, or the person is in jail. You can effectively cut a person out of your life completely if there were no children, but once there are kids, count on considering the ex part of the family (however much distance you may try to hold them to) forever more. It is not fair to your children to decide that YOU don’t want contact with that person anymore and thus they, by extension, can no longer talk to one of their parents. It’s selfish, and you’ll end up being labeled the bad guy in the years to come by the child for keeping them from the other part of the family.

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Kat January 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

@Paula – I feel you. My sister is tall, slim, athletic, and sweet. I’m “the funny one” :-p

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Enna January 7, 2011 at 7:44 am

With ex spouses it depends on the situation what has happened beteween them. Sometimes it is amicable, sometimes it is tense and other times they hate each other and you get different variations. The OP was right to inform her ex that her father had died. But from the sounds of it the ex isn’t really that interested in his daughter as he keeps backing out of visits and didn’t include her when he remarried. It sounds to me as if he is trying to point score. Now if he wants to be more involved with his duaghter then why not invite her to his wedding? Sending the OP an email congratulating her on being pregnant a month after she miscarried is NASTY.

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Goldie January 7, 2011 at 11:30 am

Actually, now that we have more BG from Paula, sending your ex an email congratulating her on a pregnancy *that she has not told you about and you have not seen firsthand* looks a lot like overstepping the boundaries to me. He should’ve kept his intel to himself :) Glad to hear that all worked out great for Paula and her daughter in the long run!

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Asharah January 10, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Anyone read “Doonesbury” last week? Mike was having the same kind of issue with his ex-wife J.J. at his mother’s viewing.

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Jillybean January 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Enna – it wasn’t NASTY – he didn’t know about the miscarriage – see Paula’s (OP) post updating. He’d heard about the pregnancy (but not the miscarriage) from his daughter, so he probably shouldn’t have commented at all. It was clueless maybe, and unintentionally insensitive, but not what you’re implying.

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Just Laura January 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm

LOL at Asharah’s comic suggestion – thanks for that! Here’s the link:
http://news.yahoo.com/comics/doonesbury#id=/comics/uclickcomics/20110107/cx_db_uc/db20110107

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Chanel January 31, 2011 at 5:45 pm

This reminds me of one of my childhood friends’ favorite stories about me. About 30 years ago, I was invited to my friend Mary’s house for dinner. Mary and I were in our early 20s, and it was Mary’s birthday. Mary lived at home with her parents, Polish immigrants. Also present was Mary’s sister, Irene and a few of Mary’s other friends. While Mary’s mother was bustling in the kitchen, the rest of us were sitting at the dining room table. I noticed some beautiful crystal, and admired it. Irene told me “It’s from Poland. When Mom dies, she said it will go to me.” Mary then pointed to another set, in the china cabinet. “That’s from Poland, too, and I get that when Mom dies.” Just then, her mom walked in, and put the main course on the table. Jokingly, I said, “Hey Mrs. S, what are you going to leave me when you die?” Mrs. S sat down, took a long drag from her cigarette and said, perfectly calmly, “Chanel, you pig, how can you ask that question?” We all burst out laughing, and to this day,
every now and then one of the friends will ask in a Polish accent, “Chanel, you pig, how can you ask that question?”

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