Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You can't make this stuff up (update 3/9/11)

A few months ago, Sis sent me an email asking what I thought about Dad's new girlfriend. Having not heard that Dad had a new girlfriend, she followed up by forwarding his email to her about the nice family who owned a convenience store and their lovely 32 year old daughter. (For those who don't remember everything I may or may not have mentioned about my father, he has been living in China for a year and a half.)

Shortly after that, I got an email from my father telling me that he was trying to help this 32-year-old woman, the relationship he with whom assured me was NOT romantic, get a visa to come to the US. He needed to know the date he got divorced from my mother for the application and wanted me to ask her.

There were several emails that bounced around the globe, until I finally sent a rather short one to him telling him that I would not give him Mom's phone number. She didn't have the divorce decree at her house and she wasn't going to go to the safe deposit box for him.

He responded a week later with a long email in which he assured me that "never in [his] darkest hour" would he ask me to give him information about my mother, knowing that it possibly endangered all the progress he has made in rebuilding a relationship with me over the past two decades. He had intended to send that email to my sister. (Hey, don't ask me to make sense of that. I'm just reporting).

I haven't responded to that one yet. I thought about just saying, "Don't worry about it. You email didn't change my opinion of you at all." Except that I don't have any reason to torture the man. So I thought I would just let it be for a while and then email him about something else, demonstrating that our relationship is unchanged.

Then this morning I got an email from Andrew. Last night he was bored. He Googled his relatives just to see what would come up.

My father married the lovely 32-year-old woman 6 months ago. You know, the one he doesn't have a romantic relationship with.

Okay, put the age thing aside. My father got married 6 months ago and didn't tell me.

The thing that makes this hilarious is that if I had made a list of things my father might do while in China, "marry a much younger woman and not tell us" could totally have been on that list. This is definitely in character for him.

So, now I am wondering what and whether to email my father. Recall at his last email he was worried that he had damaged his relationship with me by asking me to give him my mother's phone number.

I'm so tempted to send him an email with a link to the marriage announcement that Andrew found and say nothing but "Um, congratulations?"

Meanwhile, I am trying to find out what her name means. See, my first two step-mothers were both named "Bonnie" (I kid you not). If her name means something like "good" or "pretty" then we could just call her Bonnie the third.

Maybe I could ask Dad in that email I don't know how to write.

Oh, if anyone has any idea about the etiquette  on whether and how to congratulate your father on his marriage he apparently didn't want you to know about, please share.

Update: My father sent me an email asking me a question about his Kindle. That gave me an opportunity to write him and include a brief congratulations in the context of a longer email. That worked and saved me from the danger of sounding sarcastic.

In his follow-up email he only talked about the Kindle issues, not his marriage or bride or anything. That's okay. Odd, but okay.


  1. I would simply send him a short note of congratulations and not bother to point out that he didn't tell you.


    Dear Dad,

    Congratulations on your marriage to [whatever her name is].

    Love/Best Regards/etc.

    - Yondalla

  2. I just had to laugh at FosterAbba's comment - I say send it like that but without the brackets. :)

    Just kidding. But really, what a shock. I have no idea what I'd say. I really feel for you. It sounds like a really complicated situation.

  3. It seems like commenting on the marriage would just introduce stress or antagonize your Dad, right? And what would you gain from it? He's not going to change his behavior. So I say let things be; if he brings it up, fine. If he brings it up and lies about it, you can call him on it. Otherwise why add drama?

  4. I actually want to be nice to him about this. I am nervous that congratulating him will sound sarcastic when I don't intend it to be. I'm tempted to just wait until he tells me and then congratulate him. I won't call him on it though, that wouldn't change his character and future behavior either.

    He's 71 years old. He's pretty much set in his ways.

  5. Yep, you really can't make that one up. Good luck figuring it out.

  6. Well, in that case I'd either not mention it, or just say something like "I heard you got married; congratulations!" I.e. treat it the same way you would the marriage of an acquaintance.

  7. I hear you when you worry about coming across as sarcastic. If your goal is to maintain or improve your relationship with him, I think congratulating him should be more than just a sentence. Words and messages that are literally short can sound or be read as short-tempered. Good luck!
    Gail Underwood Parker

  8. I've only just stumbled across this blog, so I don't know any of the history surrounding you and your father... but I'm going to throw this out there.

    Marriage is the easiest way to get a person from one country to another. It could very well not be a romantic relationship, and the whole marriage could be a sham. I suppose he could have been lying to try to spare your feelings(???) but there's also a chance that he was telling the truth - and simply not advertising his marriage of convenience.


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