My Dad’s coming this evening

August 8, 2006 at 1:49 pm | Posted in family | 2 Comments

Do you know anyone who, because they so badly want to be helpful and useful, talks him/herself into a regrettable situation instead of just keeping their mouth shout?

My Dad’s like that sometimes. He is a decent, hard-working, honest, working-class guy, and we have a solid, matey relationship, so we’re pretty comfortable taking the piss out of each other. I don’t take the piss out of him about this, though. It’s too loaded with potential fallout, something small which would just snowball if I ever brought it up, so instead I just say nothing, and silently seethe about it when it happens. Fortunately, it’s a relatively rare occurrence.

It concerns money, you see. Always a sensitive topic, never more so than when you don’t have enough of it.

The first time was about three years ago. Without going into details, Dad had to have two disks removed from his lower back because of an accident at work, and he spent many years pursuing compensation. His asshole fuckhead employers eventually took advantage of his good nature; after admitting that they didn’t have appropriate employee liability insurance in place at the time of his accident, they guilt-tripped him into accepting a cheque for a measly €30,000 by telling him that the entire company would go under if they paid out the hundred grand upwards he could’ve got if he took it to court. It angered me that he accepted this – to put it into perspective, a distant relative lanced a piece of steel into his hand and got €19,000 compensation, for an injury which healed after about two months. On the other hand, Dad’s got a lifetime of pain in his back and legs because of this, as well as having to endure constant, 24/7, pins and needles in his left foot – all day, every day, that annoying, niggly pins and needles feeling – can you imagine how stressful that is?!?!

Looks like I went into details after all.

Before I tell you this next bit, I want to clarify that I rarely, unless it was totally essential, asked for money when growing up. I never had all the cool shit that other kids did, or if I did, it was usually second-hand. I got my first job when I just turned 15, and have worked constantly since then, to this day. I’ve always tried to rely on my own money where possible. Of course, both my parents have helped me out at different times, but I don’t think I’ve ever been a financial burden on them. I’m not telling you this to elicit sympathy, or to make you say, gee, how honourable, just to explain that I have never taken the piss out of my Mam or Dad when it comes to money. My sisters, on the other hand…don’t get me fucking started. Put it like this: seeing how they just asked and got whatever they were looking for made me regret being so anxious about not putting my parents out. Example: when I asked to get braces to fix my teeth, I got a freebie Health Board retainer, which did fuck all; when they asked, my parents spent £2000 on each of them to get the whole orthodontia shebang done. I think it just comes with the territory of being the oldest.

Anyway, Dad told Linzi and I that he’d “sort us out” when he got his compensation through. This was back when he was expecting to get over a hundred grand, so when he only ended up with 30k, his expectations were probably dented a bit. So were ours, haha.

His back thing happened in 97. He’d been wrapped up in the compensation thing since about 2000. So, when Erin was born in 2004, a few months after his €30k compensation came through, Dad came over here, and he gave us a banker’s draft for £500. He’d been dropping hints for a while that he’d give the “sorting out” money to Erin, which was fine with Linzi and I.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that £500 was a great help to us, and we were happy to get it. But I can’t deny it; rightly or wrongly, we were disappointed. £500 is not a life-changing amount of money. It covered a few essential new-baby costs, but didn’t provide us with anything permanent, memorable. I hope I don’t sound like a selfish bastard, but we were gutted that everything that had built up in our minds over the past few years had turned out to be this. I had been looking at this money and saying, finally, we’re going to be able to buy a house somewhere nice, or maybe just improve our own place.

To be fair to my Dad, I know he was absolutely destroyed as well that this was all he could do for us.

Meanwhile, he helped my sister buy a car.

Right, cut to a few months ago, May, his last visit. We’d just moved house, and it has everything we need, except a garage. I have a LOT of tools, and I also have a small fishing boat (my grandad and dad used to be boat builders), so I need a place to store all this stuff. I was over the moon when Dad said that he would pay for the garage. Overfuckingjoyed.

It hasn’t happened.

While he was over here, I jokingly said that a 32″ LCD TV was on my wishlist, if we had enough money left over from the sale of the house. His first evening here, he got me on my own and said he’d like to buy us that TV. Again, I was delighted. Again, it didn’t happen.

Tell me if I’m being a prick, but it just irks me that my expectations are constantly being raised to where I know they have no right to be. It’s just, when you’re told these types of things, you can’t help but to have some sort of positive expectations…

I am, perhaps unfairly, selfishly, expecting big things of him this time – the shed and the TV thing are weighing heavily on my mind, and, while I won’t let them spoil his visit in any way, I won’t be able to get rid of that uncomfortable feeling that this might happen all over again.

He needs to consider the impact of these things that he says. I love him fiercely, and I know how sensitive he is about not having loads of money to lavish on us, so I can’t talk to him about it without sounding like a dick, and possibly damaging our relationship. I’ll just have to keep hoping he figures it out.

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2 Comments »

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  1. For now, until he “figures it out” just remind yourself, whenever he offers to buy something for you, that it likely won’t happen. He probably really does want to, he just can’t.

    My husband is like this. He doesn’t promise to buy things but to do things for people. He wants so much to help that he offers without knowing if he really has the time. He is so overextended that many people wind up disappointed by his failure to see his promise through.

    Remind yourself of his good intentions!

  2. Perhaps, the next time he offers, you can say, “Listen, Dad, I know you want to do stuff for us, financially, but it’s really not necessary. I’m happy to just to have your help working on *insert project of the month/year here*.” Try to let him know diplomatically that you know he wants to give you the moon but that you don’t really need the moon. It’s hard to find that moment and the diplomatic words sometimes, but if you ruminate on it a bit, I’m sure you’ll find a way.


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