Day Twenty Six: Being the Third Child

My Dad. Long Beach Island, NJ, 2005.

Last night I got a little angry at my Dad.

He and my two sisters visited my Mom's grave and forgot to tell me about it. And he blamed me for not coming.

Over the phone, he swore that he told me about visiting Mom. Dad even got a little LOUD with me, if ya know what I mean. It took every ounce of self-control and patience that I possessed to not accuse him of losing his mind, because in that instant he was not making any sense. Why on Earth would I not want to come? Did I not drive all the way to his apartment the day before to help prepare for the 40th day Mass at my aunt's house? I could have slept over and gone to visit Mom with him and my sisters the next day. I would have looked forward to it. But he kept telling me that I don't listen, and it's all my fault, and that of course he told me because why wouldn't he. Which are all lies. A bereaved child would remember something as important as a planned visit to her mother's grave.

So I hung up the phone as politely as I could and called Elle to find out what the heck happened. She swore that it was not a planned visit, that it was a spur of the moment thing, and that Dad was simply confused. But even though it was a spur of the moment kind of thing, I asked why couldn't they at least call me to let me know they were going? Elle didn't have an answer. And when I heard this, I let loose a barrage of angry words. Of course I started crying, which made Elle cry, which made me feel horrible for making her cry.

It all boils down to being the third child and the game of telephone. Whenever a message gets sent through the telephone "line", it becomes distorted or forgotten completely. And the end of the Fabian telephone "line" is me, the third and youngest child of Pat and Norma Fabian. I am the last to know anything.

Most of the time, when this sort of thing happens, I pull out a story from our childhood to illustrate the deep the history of me being wronged in this way, the story of when I was in the first grade and my sisters forgot to pick me up from school. It's a bit childish since I'm an adult hovering around middle age. I when I recite the story, it's with a faux dramatic flair that elicits groans as well as laughs. Usually, I'm poking fun at a situation that didn't have such hurtful consequences, like when my Mom changed the time for our annual Christmas Eve party and no one told me. When I arrived hours earlier than everyone else--my Mom answered the door still dressed in her robe and she didn't even start cooking--I was more aggravated than truly mad. It wasn't the location or the date that was changed, just the time. No harm, no foul.

But missing a visit to my Mom's grave is hardly comparable to arriving 4 hours early to a Christmas Eve party.

Both Elle and Liza called to apologize, which was a relief to me. Sometimes I feel like my grief is not recognized by my family. Hearing my sisters say that they were sorry made me feel valid.

I have yet to call my Dad again. I can't talk to him when he refuses to say sorry. He lacks the humility to admit he's wrong. And he was really, really wrong.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel less self-righteous. But right now I'll allow myself to be mad at my Dad.

Oh, Mom. How did you put up with him all those years?