Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Dads Don't Handle The Tough Questions

Several days ago, my Grandpa's girlfriend was turned over to hospice. Her death was eminent and my husband and I decided it was important to share this information with Her Highness before she next saw my grandfather. That day was The Conqueror's birthday party so it was possible "Pappy" might stop in.

It is customary in our household that I handle the touchy subjects. Like Santa. And heaven. And friend trouble. My husband periodically gets it in his head that he has no credibility (he doesn't) with our daughter because he always defers to me when the questions get hairy. Last Saturday, in his opinion, was his time to regain some of this elusive credibility and break the news to Her Highness that Ruth (Pappy's girlfriend) was going to die- and soon.

He was gung-ho and prepared, he assured me. I convinced him to wait until I finished my shower because I was skeptical of his ability. I should say my husband is a wonderful man. (Hi, honey!) He is a great father. He, however, is a sensitive sort who tears up just watching our son bathe. Or our daughter dance. I love him for his tender heart but he is not the kind who can break bad news to someone very well. He. just. can't.

He started off strong by saying "y'know Ruth got really sick the other day and had to go to the hospital." Good job, honey! Keep it up! "Well," he stammers. Uh-oh. "Well," he starts again. "She is even sicker, sweetie, and isn't going to....I mean, she probably won't....well, Ruth may not get better." What?! She isn't going to. They removed her feeding tube. She isn't getting any nourishment. She isn't expected to live through this day. Hell, she may be gone already! "Yeah, Ruth may go to heaven to be with her husband." Our daughter is like, oh, okay. Fine. (Did I mention that RxMan is fighting tears?)

Like her father, Her Highness is a sensitive girl. She cries when I threaten to give the cat away. She cries when I put a note in her lunch box. Her reaction should be much bigger than this. So I say, "Her Highness, Ruth isn't going to get better." She sucks in a big, horrified breath and says, "What?!?! What do you mean?"

Glaring at my husband who is now stroking our little girl's hair and looking guiltily at the floor, I reply, "Ruth is very ill. She isn't going to get better. She is going to die, honey." Well, she melts into a puddle of tears, followed quickly by RxMan 'cause he can't stand to see any of us upset.

After I calmed the two of them down, my husband decided that it was okay to be the fun parent after all. This breaking the bad news and being the heavy isn't all its cracked up to be. And that is why my husband doesn't handle the difficult topics here....

(Ruth did die but not until Wednesday. I'd like to say I will miss her. I won't. She was a hard lady to like. I hope she's in a better place and is at peace. My thoughts and prayers are with those she left behind, including her sons and my grandfather who was truly smitten by her for some reason.)

8 comments:

Kellan said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Ruth passing away! I did like this post though - very sweet about your husband. I loved, "He is a great father. He, however, is a sensitive sort who tears up just watching our son bath" - he sounds just adorable and this was a good post!! Take care. Kellan

MamaGeek said...

I'm sorry to hear that news Toni. Wee have the same roles in this house. I get the tough, crap jobs somehow. Don't we all? Were these the in-laws that sent the robes? You said she was a hard lady to like (boy can I relate to THAT).

Did you really threaten to give the cat away? I heart you and your tough luvin' ways.

DIXIECHICK said...

Sorry about Ruth's death....sounds like your husband is a very tender hearted guy...my husband is the opposite...I try to handle things like you do, because he is a little too harsh, too strong....

RachelT said...

Isn't it funny how we fall into these roles that we don't neccessarily want, but somehow just become ours?? I am sorry for the news for your family, but also appreciate your honesty,

Nap Warden said...

All I have to say is sorry...

I don't know which roles Husband and I have yet, my team is so little...

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

I hope you don't think that comment you made had anything to do with it, right??

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

Oh, and you know perfectly well men are good for nothin'!!

Janet said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

We are fortunate that we haven't had to deliver much bad news to our children. Yet. The one time we did, we were all dissolved in a mess of tears.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.