Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | August 29, 2012

Mixed emotions

This is a post about my father-in-law. It’s kind of a rant, but kind of not.

So my father-in-law and his wife came to visit. Thankfully they don’t actually stay with us, but in a hotel.

I don’t know anyone else who is able to talk so much and say so little of substance. They ask questions, sometimes, in between talking about themselves, but don’t listen to the answers.

His political views make me crazy.

He truly believes that he was successful all on his own and if he can do it, so could anyone else and why are they just standing around waiting for a hand-out.

I said something about how I couldn’t see how any woman could support the Republican party right now with the views many of them are espousing and he looked at me completely blankly, like I had said something about the party’s views on gerbils as pets.

He has a failure of imagination, which is probably not all that uncommon.He cannot conceive of another point of view besides his own. He can’t really imagine how other people feel and think and live. Although I suppose I’m guilty of this as well since I can’t really understand how he can hold his point of view.

He has always had women taking care of him. I have heard the story several times of how his mother would, after he was married, mind you, come over on a Saturday morning early with the bagels he liked and leave them carefully inside the screen door so as not to wake him or anyone else up. His mother adored him. His wife, my mother-in-law who died when girl child was a baby, was a passive-aggressive doormat who let him have his way in all things. His current wife is one of those women who fusses and clucks and fusses and clucks all about him all the time. So the women in his life have trained him to believe that he is by far the most important person around.
And yet . . .

He has so many things wrong with him – he has chronic lymphocytic leukemia; lymphoma; has had a quadruple bypass; peripheral artery disease; gout; plantar fasciitis; some horrible skin condition that seems to be a result of the cll and lymphoma which causes scaling, intense itching, and thinness of the skin so it breaks open and bleeds easily. There are probably a few more things wrong, but that’s all I can remember. He manages it all reasonable well and with good humor which is very admirable. He has a team of physicians at Stanford managing his conditions and so has exceptional medical care which between his insurance and his money, he can afford.

He is funny and charming. He truly cares about his family and wants the best for them and will do what he can to make that happen. He isn’t unkind or rude or unfriendly. He does think the Republican party has gone off the deep end getting involved with the fanatic religious right, but that’s a fairly minor issue for him when compared to the economic issues.

He frustrates and irritates me, and yet I feel deep sympathy for him.



  1. I love your well balanced ‘sort of’ rant.

  2. He’s probably just a victim of the era he grew up in. Subjects were not so PC back then, and many tended to follow in the views of their elders. Now we’re encouraged to stop and think, to filter, and to be more considerate in our views. Sometimes elderly people I know say things or have opinions that bother me, but I know they don’t mean harm… . : )

    • Oh, I know, Robena. I think that my parents have spoiled me since they both keep learning and thinking and moving beyond where they were when they were young. I hope that I can do that.

  3. great portrait of a complicated man– beautifully written. I love the idea of seeing the inability to comprehend another point of view as a failure of the imagination. that says it all.

    • Thank you. I had all of this pent up and needed to say it to someone. Thank you for listening!

  4. Yeah, I’ve got the same problem. So many people I love and respect who I also consider to be insane vis-a-vis their politics and misogyny.


    • There, there. Go have some amaretto and milk. Just realize that you’re teaching your children well and someday they will dive right in like my girl child did and back you up with facts and figures.

  5. I’m struggling with the same failure of imagination in trying to understand how otherwise decent people can be blind to the indecency of the party they espouse.

    • Yeah, I have that problem as well. I find myself looking at friends and family, and thinking, how? Why?

  6. […] his dad lives. He has been in and out of the hospital for the last month or so and now is back in. (Here is my post on my father-in-law.) His wife (my mother-in-law died 15 years ago and he has since remarried) is […]

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