Monday 18 November 2019

Dear Mary: Lives of my children have left me feeling lonely and depressed

I'm a widower with three children. I lost my wife through cancer when the children were still at school.

The eldest is married with small children, but his wife says I am too old to babysit. The second is still single and had to emigrate owing to the downfall in the economy. The third child is married, but broke up with his wife and is continuing to pay the mortgage. The house was in both their names and to remove her name lost me money as well as having to pay the solicitor. My son uses very colourful language when speaking about her, with the F-word very prominent.

He met a woman last summer and only informed me in January that she was pregnant. She has two other children.

He swore to me that, on the birth of the child, he would have a paternity test, but this has not happened and that is why I refused to go to the Christening. The others knew all along what was happening, but none of them mentioned it to me. People in the neighbourhood were congratulating me on my new grandchild before they told me.

I had to finish off their education which was a job and a half, finish off my own mortgage and carry on without my wife. Neither my wife nor I would have had sex before marriage -- our parents would have killed us.

I am now very lonely and very depressed and just hoping each night God will take me. What advice would you recommend?

AIn a way, you have lost them all and that is what has made you feel so depressed. Your eldest child's wife has made you feel unwelcome, your second child is very far away from you and your third is in what you obviously consider to be an unsuitable relationship. The biggest loss for you was that of your beloved wife, and it must have been very hard to keep going after she died, and without any female influence in the household. But you did, and you should be proud of that.

Whether you like it or not, times have changed, and people have sex fairly early on in a relationship. They also live together, sometimes marrying and sometimes not, and have children with different fathers/mothers.

I appreciate that it is hugely different to when you and your wife were starting off, but that is how it is. You probably got a big shock when you discovered that your son's girlfriend was pregnant, and he was no doubt scared to tell you, which is why they kept it from you. But what are you going to do if and when he has the paternity test done and he turns out to be the father?

There is every possibility that this is the case, so you would want to make sure that you have not totally alienated him in the meantime. One of the greatest joys I see among friends and family is that of having grandchildren in their lives, but this so far has not been the case with you.

From the details you gave in your letter, you are in your mid-60s, but no matter what your age you need to have a conversation with your eldest son regarding his wife's dismissal of you as a person, let alone a grandfather. She is also depriving her children of having you in their lives as they grow up.

I'm sorry you are feeling so depressed -- only you will know if you need to speak to your doctor about this -- and it is awful to think of you hoping that you will die.

Have your sons -- all three of them -- any idea as to how you feel? I feel that if you had a better relationship with them all (and why not think about going to visit the one who is abroad?), then your life would not feel so difficult and you would not be so lonely. So try to think what you could do to improve things with each one of them individually and things may improve overall.

Submit your letters to Mary anonymously at dearmary.ie.

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