When your help is no longer appreciated by family members do you keep a stiff upper lip, or do you move on???

Alright, I don’t get family.  I mean I do, but I don’t.  How is that family can totally and completely misconstrue aid, and turn it into something petty?  Like WTAF.

Here’s the story, I don’t know if any of you have put the pieces of my life together yet, so if you haven’t let me give you the Cole’s notes version of it.

My dad had an affair when I was thirteen, as is always the case when people have affairs, they almost always get caught.  Often times an affair doesn’t destroy a union, what destroys the union post affair is coming to terms with whether or not there is anything in the relationship to salvage.  Where my parents were concerned there was nothing.  I don’t remember if I cried or what, when we were told that dad was leaving, but let’s put it this way, our lives were the better for it.  As it turns out “the other woman” did us all a huge favour; one that to this day, I’m still thankful for.

My mother never paraded a lover under our noses.  She committed her entire life, or so it seemed at the time to give us all the normal things that other kids got.  Dance classes for me, competitive hockey for my brothers.  My father barely contributed.  And that was fine, he had a new life, a new wife, and shortly there after three kids of his own.  My mother included them in almost every single family holiday, all the big ones and any time she hosted a birthday party for any one of us three.  She was the epitome of class, patience, devotion, and stability.  Later, much later, she met an amazing man, as in eighteen years ago, married him and has had the time of her life.  Luc is the best thing that has ever happened to her, and all the things she went without while married to my father are a distant memory.  She has met her great life adventure partner, and I couldn’t be more thankful that this is how her life played out.  She deserves it, completely.

My dad also got in his second wife his perfect mate.  There is nobody on this planet that I could actually see being as patient as Cheryl has been with him.  She stood by him through his alcoholism and has now enjoyed the last twelve years with him sober.  They’ve had beautiful houses in nice suburban neighborhoods.  It was the best outcome for everybody involved.

Why do I tell you all this?  I tell you because it’s important that you all understand that my two brothers from the first marriage and I have never harbored any ill will toward my dad and his wife.  Was it shitty when we “lost” our father?  Ahhhh, yeah.  Was it the worst thing that happened to us?  Actually no, no it wasn’t at all.  In fact I believe it was the best thing for everyone in my family.  Were us three “original” kids pissed when he had three more and gave them a roof over their heads, while we were getting evicted from ours?  Ahhhh, fuck yeah.  But did we ever make our three half siblings pay, at all?  No.  No we did not.  We happily attended birthday parties, and had them in our homes for summer BBQ’s, you name it.  They were after all, family, and children.  And where we come from “children aren’t responsible for the sins of their parents.”

Since all has been good for thirty five years, why now, all these years later as our father’s dementia progresses, and the three elder siblings with more life knowledge, financial know how, and resources are trying to offer up practical life solutions to their challenges are we being accused of acting superior???  Things that really make me go “hmmm.”

Life is busy.  Life is messy.  Life is complicated.  Life is also really fucking good at throwing us curve-balls.

Nobody has any time for drama, especially when this person is me, and is only trying to help.  My fifteen life plates are overflowing, I honestly don’t have the time to be lending a helping hand where I’m being accused of ulterior motives. But I mean come on it’s family, can’t we just all get along and trust one another as being on the same page, wanting the same thing.  The best for our father???

Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.


  1. Dear Shantelle,

    I’m sorry you find yourself in this challenging situation…not only with your father’s dementia and decline this brings, but family conflict as well. I understand you would be feeing disappointment and distress at being given the message that you are “acting superior”. It’s natural to think that you would all join together as a family and do the best things possible for your father.

    From what you have said in previous blogs, I have the impression your tendency is to tackle conflict head on. If you feel the need to ‘clear the air’, let your family know you are only trying to help because you are all family, not with the intent of “acting superior” or with “ulterior motives”. Perhaps in this case, as hard as it is, it may be best to just offer advice or help when it is asked for, and let your family members know you are there if needed.

    I hope there won’t be any bad blood over this and your family members all still relate to each other as well as before. It is a hard time for all of you, and emotions can run high…and everyone will have their own way of dealing with what is happening to your father. Sending prayers for all of you, for help to interact peacefully; and your father, as he faces every day ahead dealing with this illness.

    God bless you all.

    Love and hugs,

    Nattacia xox

  2. Trying times for everyone, no one wants to admit that they can’t do this on their own, pride always seem to get in the way. A shame really that they don’t seem to remember that you are family. You offered help, it didn’t go well, you have so much on your plate without this added stress. Let them know that you will always be there for them but give them a chance to work it out on their own.
    Sometimes a peaceful retreat is better than an all out battle.
    Lots of love Sxx

  3. End of life brings out the beast in people. I have a friend who is an estate lawyer who says people he’s known for years become emotionally unrecognizable when it comes to pre death healthcare and post death legal issues. I suspect your dad’s second family think of themselves as his “real” family. I don’t know what that makes you and your sibs. Give them some space to get over the trauma of the diagnosis and all its challenges. If they are nice people, they will eventually return to sanity. On the list of stressors, death and divorce are at the top. Sorry you find yourself in this painful and awkward position. I do hope they come around.

  4. baby doll, I moved on, cut them right out of my life, and I feel so much better for it….old memories haunt me now and then, but sincerely, I do not even miss the stress and walking on glass…..good riddance.

  5. Your singing my tune, Shantelle. This is what is happening in the U.S. between conservatives and liberals. I think everyone wants similar things–safety, security and a decent living. But, we get caught up in believing our way is the only way and then we villify the person with an opposing view. I hope your family can focus on what’s best for your dad; sibling feelings should be secondary. Have you considered hospice care? Those nurses and social workers are amazing and can help families through these difficult times.

  6. I’m so sorry you have to endure this kind of treatment. I guess they feel more “entitled” to take care of him than you, whether it’s financial, patient advocacy or whatever the situation. I hate to say this Shantelle, but, let them handle it. It’s going to be rough, it’s going to rip all your hearts out, and more than possibly, they will fight with each other. Let them! It’s not easy being a patient advocate for your parent(s). I’ve been through it. But, thank God, my brothers and sister agreed to do everything by consensus. If one of us did not agree, the others were there to sort it out. We didn’t fight with each other. We just did what was best for our parent. In this case it was my Mom. My Dad had passed away 5 years prior, so she was his advocate when he declined. But, we were there for her. Sometimes, it was stressful, well, most of the time it was stressful. But we had a union that gave us the strength to handle this together. We had 11 years of one of them failing, then the other. We never got a break. As a result, we all have some health issues that arose from this constant, intense stress over those years.
    So, whether you have a united front, or you’re fighting amongst yourselves, the stress of this situation will have an effect on the rest of your lives.
    Don’t let this happen to you Shantelle. Let them go, give advice but don’t insist on your way, because it doesn’t sound like, in the end, your union will be anything like it was before he got sick.
    You and all involved in this are in my prayers Shantelle. God guide you and help you all through this difficult time.

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